Organizing Our Days: Beautiful Benefits of Scheduling

I shared last month my excitement to persevere as we broke the summer mold with our new schedule for the school year. My family was excited by this challenge as well, because, as I was planning and praying over our activity worksheets in preparation for the new schedule, I was sharing all the benefits we were going to reap from said schedule. Our schedule was to be our personal assistant and would give us a time for everything “under the sun” which God is requiring of us and we hope/want/need to accomplish. It was important for me to help them see the joys of scheduling, which enabled them to endure as we jumped into a new schedule with both feet!

We chose to mostly schedule in half-hour blocks, and I’m taking an approach to our days by dividing them up into three larger blocks of learning with breaks in between to be outdoors, to move our bodies after sitting, and to rest our bodies as well as our minds. I also chose the half-blocks because we have young children in our homeschool, and they benefited from a change in focus after 30 minutes. What fun and active days we are having! And, with our schedule posted for all to see, I don’t get lost but accomplish so much on a regular basis. That’s worth sharing about!


I want to preface with what a schedule is not! This helped me in my development of a balanced day. A schedule is not a burden or a taskmaster, but rather a schedule is a friend and our personal assistant. When you tie activities to specific times, you won’t waste precious time. This makes a schedule a recipe for your day, a recipe for success!

Benefits of Scheduling:

  • Children have purpose throughout their days, which means less time for finding themselves in trouble (doing what they aren’t supposed to be doing) or bickering.
  • A schedule that the family learns and carries out regularly covers for us when Mom is sick or away for the day. The children learn how to carry out the day, and thus don’t always rely on Mom alone to be told what to do.
  • This brings me to the aspect of a schedule being a stress relief to Mom. How many times when you’ve functioned on routine or rhythm in your days have you had little ones asking, “What are we doing next?” “Mama can I play now?” or “What are we doing now?” When we keep a mental flow to our day, our mind is always working to assess what needs to be done now or next and what is most important. The schedule lays it out for you so you can point the children there and encourage them to persevere until their scheduled “free” time. Soon they stop asking because they already know! I tell you, this was my biggest relief in scheduling.
  • Lastly, I want to share that a schedule helps us accomplish our priorities. When we have a schedule, we have prayed over and allotted time for the things God is asking of us. We can say no with confidence to those things that come up that we feel we might need to squeeze in but don’t know where. I have allotted time in my day as well to do things I’ve always wanted to do, like sew! We are doing sewing one to two days a week this school year, because we hoped to last year but never were able to accomplish that priority. A schedule gives us the allotment of time to accomplish our priorities, because we give time to each task and thus don’t waste time we can be using for these exact priorities.

Ecclesiastes 3:1 says, “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens.” I love verses 9-11: “What do workers gain from their toil? I have seen the burden God has laid on the human race. He has made everything beautiful in its time.”

Remember God’s burden is the one that we want, not our own. And, the Bible has something awesome to say about His burden, which is “light.” It says in the above verses that God has made this requirement beautiful! A schedule for your family that you allow God to design will bring your family many benefits!

What do you experience as a benefit for scheduling in your homeschool?

Pray for beauty in our home schools this year as we schedule our lives after God’s plan!

Blessings,
Allison

 

Summer Reading Program and a BookList!


We really enjoyed this school year and I feel like I’m just starting to get the hang of this homeschooling lifestyle. We love taking a “one-room schoolhouse” approach and have enjoyed learning together with a range of ages this year, from two years old to almost eight.

We are getting ready to move this summer, and so I have been struggling to keep up with my best efforts on homeschooling regularly. We do more of a relaxed year-round schedule, but I am a person of regularity and I definitely am struggling in this area at present. I was brainstorming what to do as a focusing theme for the summer to keep us going, and all my children have really been enjoying our read-aloud times, so I decided to make that our “school program” as we move into summer. I want my oldest to read 20 minutes/five times a week with me, and that way we will have focused one-on-one time as well as be learning and keeping our reading skills up! I plan to continue to read to my youngest in her room before naps. I also plan to move to reading with my middle son after that. My middle child often jumps in on both read-alouds with brother and nap time stories with sister, but I am looking for opportunities to read to him one-on-one as well. (The challenges of being a middle child!)

We sat down and made a list of things my oldest wanted to read about or specific books we have yet to read around the house. I’d like to work this list for my middle child as well. We also have taken a habit of evening family reading time, which motivates us to be home and ready for bed on time more regularly during the longer summer days. And, for those days we are in the car in the evening house hunting or heading home from a fun outing with family or friends, we have our audio books so we don’t miss out on that special time to read as a family.

I would love to hear what others are reading with their young readers that deepens your time together and their thirst for knowledge as they grow in their understanding of Christ.

Here’s some of our favorites so far, as well as wishful reads for this coming summer.

AUDIOS:

Pilgrims Progress (great for longer road trips)

Christian Heroes Then and Now series

READ-ALOUDS:

True Education Reader (we bought the third-grade set)

Singer in the Sand (mission family story)

Stories Worth Rereading (highly recommended by a friend)

Cabin Boy

Brave Men to the Battle

Waldenses

Old-Fashioned Camp Meeting

Wilderness: an Interactive Atlas of Animals (Costco find!)

other books on animals…

Hope you are encouraged to pick up a book with your child this summer to keep their interest in learning a positive one. We are always eager when August rolls around to get out our math manipulatives and start back into our other subjects. Praying your time spent with your children in your summer adventures is blessed, and I hope to hear what other families are doing to keep the love of learning alive while they take their summer break…

Blessings, Allison

Ending Our Day With Joy

I would call myself a morning person. This post is for those of us who find ourselves quickly deflating as we enter the evening hours…or perhaps find we do not have the same energy throughout the day, and need some brainstorming about how to spread the Joy.

In the morning it is easy for me to naturally have Joy. I mean, there’s so much to be joyful about in the morning! I’m excited to see the sun rise, a fresh beginning, and those quiet moments in the morning. My children wake up well rested (usually), and they also are bright-eyed and cheery.

After three o’clock rolls around, it often seems I find myself losing steam. This is when we have finished our last meal, helped Mama clean up, and now are transitioning to the children’s free time before our evening routine starts.  I decided to write this post because I recently realized that evenings have become such a chore for me. I was analyzing the difference between our morning routine and our evening routine so I might discover why I enjoyed one so much, but found an increasing amount of stress in the other. Our family’s better times are in the morning, but if you find mornings are more difficult at your house, you might use this approach in the same way, modeling after your afternoon hours instead. I’m eager to hear what others think and how they find Joy throughout the ups and downs of their day!

So, what is it about mornings at our house that make them so great? Part of it is that I have a plan — a plan that we have executed on a regular basis, and all family members participate so the morning runs smoothly, which makes it more enjoyable for this mama and everyone else too!

I believe the biggest contributing factor is that we start our mornings with personal quiet time and before we eat breakfast we come together as a family for family worship where everyone participates.

As I looked at our morning routine and compared it to our afternoon routine, I realized our afternoon really didn’t have much routine. So, when it’s time to get ready for bed, it often becomes rushed while not always having the opportunity and focus for a devotional experience to close our day. Out of this was born my desire for a more regular evening routine, so I might have the energy for an evening worship experience that blesses each member and prepares them for a better night’s rest.

I also realize that I cannot have a giant to-do list that is waiting to be done once the children are asleep. This causes anxiety for me because I want to be heading the same direction when I snuggle each of my little people and pray over them again individually.

I decided I must move my to-do list to a different part of the day, and what doesn’t get done before the children’s bedtime moves to tomorrow’s to-do list. This way I can enjoy my time with each child, one-on-one tucking them into bed, without the uncompleted list looming over my thoughts. I do keep my to-do list short and have three most important tasks each day I strive to accomplish. My other to-do’s are secondary and can be deferred.

I also include my children in helping me with as much as they can of “our” to-do list. Now before moving to free time in the afternoon, we evaluate what needs to get done or picked up or set up for the next day. We do our day together, and these steps are helping me to find Joy in ending our day together!

I hope this post encourages you to evaluate the times of your day where you find yourself in a lull, and maybe transplant some of that greatness from the other times of the day, or move challenges to a time of day when you have more energy and resources to tackle them. Praying we continue to seek ways to find more Joy in our homeschools!

Blessings, Allison

“Gentle under Provocation”

This quote spoke to me as a mother:

“The spirit that is kept gentle under provocation will speak more affectively in favor of the truth then will any argument, however forcible.” Desire of Ages p353

Have you ever found yourself arguing with a toddler? Maybe a 7 year old? Or a teenager perhaps… I will admit, I can affirm the first two and yet even in the midst of such conversations, I KNEW there was a better option!  So how does a busy homeschooling mother (or father) exude gentleness under provocation? Today I want to share the joy I find in challenging myself day-by-day, with much prayer, to be a gentle mother.

“The consistent life, the patient forbearance, the spirit unruffled under provocation, is always the most conclusive argument and the most solemn appeal.” Mind Character Personality vol. 2 p755

Does the mother hen in you ever find her feathers ruffled after a chaotic morning at home or a longer than planned afternoon of errands with every one in tow?  Does anyone else have toddlers that seem to wilt when errands run long?

“The servants of Christ are not to act out the dictates of the natural heart. They need to have close communion with God, lest, under provocation, self rise up, and they pour forth a torrent of words that are unbefitting, that are not as dew or the still showers that refresh the withering plants.” Desire of Ages p353

It goes on to explain that these are Satan’s methods,  but the harsh storm of words that may come from an inpatient mother can be calmed by our Heavenly Father’s perfect peace.  Such a storm can be stopped before it even begins. It gave us the solution right at the beginning of the quote, we must draw nearer to our Savior.  So I propose a very simple plan for more Joy and less SELF.  I got the idea from working with my oldest son on his penmanship. He writes out a verse each week, sometimes as much as one a day. Now I too am challenging myself to also write out a verse every morning.  I have written them on sticky notes to keep on my daily planner, as well as in a 3 x 5 spiral notebook that I carry in my purse. It can be written anywhere as a reminder of His Word in our lives throughout the day.

My oldest son and I just finished a topical study on the “Word”. What a powerful resource we have at our fingertips to overcome every sin in our lives and experience true joy moment by moment amidst both the storms and calmer waters.

So that’s my secret. A verse a day. Write it out. Look at it again. Read it aloud and share it with your children maybe over a meal, or again while waiting for your oil to be changed. You will be so impressed by such a simple task and the Power behind it, to be “gentle under provocation”.

Blessings, Allison

Cooperatively Compassionate

Have you ever found yourself getting frustrated with someone over their behavior? Perhaps a child, spouse, sibling, church member, retail clerk, slow driver in the left lane… I’m sure we all have different buttons that, when they are pushed, cause us to not always be the example of Christianity we desire to be. Today I want to share how we can have victory over our frustrations.

I love being a homeschool mom…

AND I don’t like when things don’t run smoothly…

BUT sometimes that’s just the reality of life…

SO I am thankful I have Jesus to get me through the storms and bring real peace into my soul.

It’s like that children’s song, Whisper a Prayer, with the repeating last stanza, “to keep your heart in tune.”

At times I feel like the Lord is whispering a certain character trait that I need to work on in my life. Lately He has been repeatedly bringing this one to my mind.  Thankful our Heavenly Father is such a patient parent; He never yells when we need to fix something. I think that the reality of it is because we can’t do the fixing. Only God can! He doesn’t fix our problems against our will, and we cannot do anything without His help.

“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me,” Philippians 4:13.

So, this catchy character trait is the one I’m currently wrestling with, and I am very excited to share about what the Lord is teaching me.

COOPERATIVE, adj

1.  Involving mutual assistance and working toward a common goal. “Every member has clearly defined tasks in a cooperative enterprise.”

Yes, yes, YES!!! Don’t you love the sound of that? I love that our church believes God is a God of order. God can bring order to our chaos; that is a promise He is willing to stand behind. Jesus understood the first law of Heaven is the law of order, and he demonstrated that in everything he did, even folding his bed clothes when he was resurrected and left the tomb. Jesus did not leave a trail of chaos. This has been an awesome object lesson for my children lately. I want them to think about what they leave behind them when they leave the table, when they leave their room, when they leave their toy space, and especially when we leave somewhere we have been guests.

“As He passed through the towns and cities He was like a vital current, diffusing life and joy wherever He went,” DA p.350.

COMPASSIONATE, adj

feeling or showing sympathy and concern for others

Someone recently shared with me that when we see the sins of others, we can choose to recognize them as common sins we too may have once struggled with. This helps us to see them/their behavior with compassion instead of frustration. This realization in my home has been transformational in how I view challenges with my children (and even those outside of my immediate family).  For example, we were struggling with my oldest to be thorough and attentive. I was catching him not completing his work or finishing his chores in detail (i.e. taking the laundry down but not sorting it, putting laundry in the corner of his bedroom but not hanging it up, not giving the same energy to his school work as usual). I was catching myself getting very frustrated about this new challenge which didn’t seem characteristic of him. When I heard or perhaps finally listened to my Encouragement to be compassionate, I realized my own struggle recently with thoroughness and attentiveness. This was very convicting for me, and I spent much time in prayer for my son and myself. I am excited to say we both are experiencing victory in these areas today through the power of Christ in our lives. This doesn’t always mean it’s your fault your child is experiencing certain challenges, but when we view them and their struggles as common struggles we too have faced or perhaps are facing, we are then able to feel and show sympathy and concern instead of irritability and exclamation.

So in summary, my challenge for us all is to practice COOPERATIVE COMPASSION, noun

Tender desire to assist others despite our common shortcomings (my own paraphrase)

With this approach, I think we will be better able to teach them to experience victory through order in their hearts. We can claim the promise of reaching a common goal and see it flow out into our new behavior!

“I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus,” Philippians 3:14.

Blessings, Allison