Monday, September 17, 2012

Mom Learns About Schedules

It is fun to research and dream about everything I want my homeschool to be. But no matter how much money I spend or how many great ideas I have, there must be a practical plan for the application of these marvelous intentions.

Enter the schedule.
Schedules on the First Day

At first, I blamed our new schedules for our rough first week of school, but I am now convinced that it would have been much worse without them.  Schedules are funny things. They are easy to make and hard to keep. An effective schedule liberates, but an ineffective one enslaves.

I learned something about schedules this year. I learned to schedule priorities in honest, practical time slots. This plan allows time for the important (Bible reading, reading lessons, etc.) and the urgent (emergency showers, leaky honey bears, etc.).

Don't Schedule Optional.
My schedule need not include everything I would like to get done on an ideal day. When it does, I am set up for failure, enslaved by a schedule that is only doable on the best days. (I know this by experience.) However, the schedule should include the most important things that I must get done. My most successful schedules allow me, at the end of the worst day, to be satisfied that my highest priorities were accomplished even if I accomplished nothing else. It requires me to think carefully about a potential activity vying for a scarce time slot to determine how important it is. If it does not make the cut, I am free to do it if I have time, but I am not allowed to feel guilty if I do not. Liberty!

30 Minutes.
The best way I know to ensure that only the priorities are scheduled is to use larger time increments. On paper, I give myself more time than I should need. Unforeseen events will occur. Obviously. I cannot see into the future. I want enough slack in the schedule so that when Thing2 comes in with a one-inch-thick layer of mud on himself and his clothing requiring an unforeseen shower and a heavy-duty load of laundry (read: urgent), I do not feel hopelessly "off schedule." If three 10-minute time slots have elapsed, I might never get back on track. However, if one 30-minute slot that contained one priority has passed, I can move on without much anxiety.

It seems more of a cycle than a two-step process. The only way to fit my life into 30-minute time slots, for there are not very many of those in a day, is to schedule only the highest priorities. The only way I will get the priorities accomplished is if the schedule is not cluttered with optional activities.

More schedule-related topics I am contemplating:
Why schedule?
What about routines?
Where does optional fit in?

I am very curious about what my friends' schedules and routines look like. Write a post and leave a link in the comments!

1 comment:

Amy said...

I'm thinking much the same way you are this year. I scheduled our priorities (history, reading/writing, cleaning the house, etc.) and then put up a board with a whole bunch of optionals that really should get done at some time (math, art, music,nature walks, etc.). That way if we do not have time for any extras one day, it's not a big deal. Also, if we have a whole afternoon free one day, we can spend the entire time doing any one (or all!) of those things! Thanks for linking this up to Trivium Tuesdays last week!