Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Good stuff!

We will get back to our schedule soon, hopefully, but we wanted to share some really challenging and encouraging messages on the family which we recently discovered!

These are by an older brother, Robert Gessner. His words are full of wisdom and sincerity and have been a blessing to us.

First message Introduction, describing the fact that families today are in trouble.

Second message Regarding the problem of permissive parenting.

Third message Regarding the problem of encouraging covetousness and materialism in our children's hearts!!

Fourth message Regarding the fear of our family and children being different from the world and "What is planning your family life?"

We hope you can check them out! Please try!

The taping wasn't perfect, so one message cuts off too soon at the end and one seems to start late, but you can hear them fine.

The next couple of weeks we are doing a major project, and we'll update as we are able! We will really be enjoying the fall weather!!!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Morning schedule

As previously promised/threatened, we are now posting our current schedule.

After trying to make a PDF to post and not being able to figure it out, I asked Abi to take photos of our schedule on the wall, which we have covered in clear contact paper to keep from getting frayed and splattered. So, you won't make out the fine details, but just the general idea....which helps to keep things brief!

We use Microsoft Word, with lots of columns, printed horizontally. I use the Word Art feature to label big blocks of time. You will notice a few rows with fine print for Zak and Ben, who work at their own business during the day, so don't join in for all of our daily activities. Ben still does do chores, and Zak largely helps in supervising little brothers, though he has been known to plunge a toilet or split wood on occasion.

The fine print above is who wakes up the little boys and gets them dressed!

The first three rows represent one hour each. The rest of rows on the schedule are in 30 minute increments, even though they may have more than one activity per block.

So, we start our day at x o'clock. Ha ha. Early risers like to get up by 5, though we do not always make it for that hour. Those who do have uninterrupted quiet for doing some or all of their Bible copy, which the rest of the family does later in the day. It allows quiet time with the Lord. They also have personal grooming time, enjoying a much shorter wait in line to use the facilities.

We wake up the next group at 6, and then things begin to get more lively. There is sometimes cocoa or mint tea involved in this time slot.

At 7, we start morning devotions, which includes learning and/or reviewing Bible verses which we have studied using the Verse A Day method. We usually start with some songs and end with prayer.

After devotions, in our 8 to 9 slot, we have several components that can shift around to suit our needs. Someone prepares breakfast. Now, sometimes the preparer had the foresight to stick this in the oven earlier. Sometimes they have to prepare it and bake it, and we have more time to do the " Daily A.M. Chore Packs" before we eat. And sometimes, breakfast is just yogurt with dry oats and Grape Nuts, so it takes no time at all to prepare. So the contents of this slot can be modified as needed.

On the schedule, we have things kind of modularized, so there is not a lot of detail on the main schedule. We do have lot of instruction sheets posted around the house for the details, so as not to crowd the schedule. Here are some explanations:

Morning Routine - everything pertaining to bedroom clean up. This is done first after devotions, before breakfast.

Daily A.M. Chore Packs - daily chores done in the morning, some are on rotation, each child has their own Chore Pack, which Mommy produces using Chore Ware. (During this time, Mommy and/or one of the big sisters circles the house with their Chore Checklist. This is produced through Chore Ware, and is a work of art!) Chore assignments are scientifically designed to minimize slow downs in the bathroom. Daily A.M. Chore Packs do not include meal clean up; that is on a separate Chore Pack called "Meal Cleanup". Chore Packs are the signature components of the chore system in Managers of Their Chores...
Mini-review of Managers of Their Chores: A Practical Guide to Children's Chores by Steve and Teri Maxwell.

This book lays an excellent biblical foundation for the use of chores in teaching servanthood to our children. It gives lots of suggestions and examples for specific ages and such, but the practical part of it, in our opinion, is how it combats the world's idea that "kids need to just be kids". You will probably not be surprised at the results of their poll of homeschool moms in which they compared moms who had chores as children and those who did not have chores: which group felt most prepared for their role as mother?

This book will encourage you to think beyond the laundry room floor and into your child's future. Highly recommended! End of mini-review.
Laundry catch up is there just so we can make use of time left over if chores are done quicker than usual. It happens. "Check laundry" refers, of course, to the moving of the laundry from one machine to the other.

Finally, Meal Cleanup Chore pack is a special routine which encompasses not only kitchen and dining cleanup, but bath schedules and general house cleanup (tidying areas).

And that takes us to 9:30....

When we first attempted scheduling, we had the various children in various activities and it was very complicated. Dave suggested we make things kind of modular. So, we start with Bible copy for just about everyone. Our oldest sons are working most days, so they have time allotted earlier for their Bible copy and head downstairs at this point (sometimes earlier).

During Bible copy time, we are trying to emphasize accuracy and checking our work, so we have things broken down in more detail for partners in checking. They do a certain amount of work copying, and then we stop in time to select a favorite verse, which is written in a different notebook with a comment, and shared in evening devotions. (We are currently trying to revive this portion of Bible copy, as we have neglected it for awhile!)

The dynamics of having the children partner for Bible copy are wonderful! First, there is the potential for deepening sibling friendships. (We say potential because we are always wanting to work on making these relationships what they should be -- not that they are perfect already!) Second, the checking is helpful teaching time for younger children and reinforcing time for the olders. With older partners, who are closer in age, it just makes it "fun" to spot errors and omissions. With Bible copy, we have seen the need to really emphasize checking almost as much as the copying: both penmanship and accuracy.

The blue text in the far right column refers to one-on-one time with Mommy for the younger children. We rotate turns, except for Gideon, who is learning to read, and this includes oral reading of the Bible, phonics, calendar work (recording upcoming events, checking off days, counting down to birthdays or events), practice with penmanship or copywork, nature walks, organizing projects, making shopping lists and sometimes artwork or letter writing.

Joanna (or another big sister) usually keeps Joshua (2) during her activities, and he does chores with her and sits with her when she does her Bible copy. When she's copying, he looks at book and plays with blocks. We simply do not permit him to roam the house, unraveling toilet paper or drawing on walls. But during the majority of his day, rather than looking for toys or videos to occupy him, we are learning to occupy him with real life! He loves it! What a concept, huh?

After Bible copy, we do some clean up and laundry folding and putting away. There is always laundry to put away! Since we have a room dedicated to laundry, we can just keep it moving without having to have it all finally put away so we can use the space for something else. That is an example of how our schedule is affected by our living space. Years ago, we had a dedicated school room, so things were kind of left on tables, but we no longer have that.

Actually, we don't mind not having a dedicated school room because we want our home overall to be conducive and used for learning.

Comida means lunch! We allow 30 minutes for actual eating, so we have to wrap up discussions. We are blessed to have every meal together as a family. Dave's mom, early on in our family, made a good case for not eating until every family member is at the table. We are so thankful for that input!

Again, the Meal Cleanup Chore Packs, again, include chores that are not necessarily related to kitchen cleanup. They can be straightening rooms, or taking a bath.

While it really helps to have things minutely detailed so that everything is in a certain sequence, we find it necessary to keep things a bit more flexible, since we have children paired up and things often come up that make it more convenient to vacuum or mop out of sequence. And of course, if we drop a Corelle bowl or have a toilet overflow, that REALLY impacts things in our day! Again, the schedule is just a tool to make sure we are hitting the priorities, but sometimes God allows things in our day to work on EXTRA priorities, like giving thanks in all things!

Lunch cleanup finishes at 2 PM, and we'll continue on in our next post with that. In the future, we hope, Lord willing, to share on how we fit in various errands. We will also solicit comments on how people keep track of their toothbrushes! (Does anyone chain them to the wall???? We are clueless!)

But before we click, we would like to remind you that our schedule, though we REALLY like it, is not perfect and we still have struggles and confusion at times. We also have peace and productivity at times. We are by no means experts, and we love to see what works for other people. It has taken us 12 years of trial and tweaking to get where we are so far. Each day requires walking in the Spirit.

This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh.
For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh:
and these are contrary the one to the other:
so that ye cannot do the things that ye would.
But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law...
But the fruit of the Spirit is
love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith,
meekness, temperance:
against such there is no law.
Galatians 5: 16- 18, 22-23

Our schedule is not "the law" but rather an expression of how the Spirit is leading us to live our days, unless God allows other factors to override. By persevering in his Spirit, we allow the Lord to grow his fruit in our lives.

We are always encouraged to seek to apply the words of our Lord in Matthew 6:31- 33 to keep our perspective about meals, laundry, and everything else:

Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or,
What shall we drink? or,
Wherewithal shall we be clothed?
(For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things.
But seek ye first the kingdom of God,
and his righteousness;
and all these things shall be added unto you.

Thursday, October 07, 2010

On schedules

A new friend was interested in our schedule, and so we are going to be sharing it. But we wanted to first have some introductory comments, lest anyone get the wrong idea. So, we will post these comments first.

First off, we are not "natural schedulers", but rather, we NEED a schedule!

We were blessed many years ago by the Lord bringing a book into our lives, Managers of Their Homes. It provided the practical, SPIRITUAL information we needed to convince us of the need to budget our time. Really, time is more valuable than money, and may of the same principles apply to budgeting time as money. In fact, many years ago, Dave was in a Christian men's group where a brother suggested that everybody bring their checkbooks and lay them open so they could be accountable for how they spend their money! It is by looking at this record that our real priorities are seen. Same thing goes for how we spend our time; it shows our priorities.

So, one of the biggest benefits of scheduling for us was not the schedule in itself. It was the benefit of prayerfully setting our priorities before creating a schedule. It was not a mom thing either. Both of us parents were involved (though one did more pencil pushing than the other), and that was also a huge blessing and help in being on the same page, so to speak. When we look at our schedule, we recognize that we have reasons for everything on it. So the exercise of putting our schedule together has been by far one of our most profitable accomplishments, because it forced us to compare what was on the paper with what is in God's Word.

Our schedule, and our adherence to it, is far from perfect. In our early years, we would detect deficiencies in the schedule, and lapse for weeks at a time intending to revise it. Then in desperation, we'd go back to the original schedule and find it wasn't that bad after all. Now it is far more ingrained in all of us, though we still need improvement in self-discipline and there are certain parts of the schedule that are still challenging for us. But, we really are thankful for God's wisdom and his Word for helping us to establish priorities.

Of course, every day is different and we want to keep in mind each day that the interruptions God allows are for our good. Discipline issues, illness, visitors, special or seasonal projects, plumbing emergencies, ministry...these are things that we want to be available for! We are trying to remember they are real life opportunities! They do frequently cause interruptions to the schedule, but as we learn to see them as God's tools in our lives, we don't get so stressed out by them. (Some of these interruptions can be plugged into the schedule, however, in the same way that you can combine errands instead of go out every time you need an item.)

The real problem with our schedule is when we get distracted by things that are not really contributing to doing what God wants us to be doing! In reality, it's the time wasting distractions, the bunny trails, and our lack of discipline that really mess things up! But God is merciful and we can always just repent, refocus and get back on track! When you have a schedule, its a lot easier to get back on track, because you have a track to get back on!

Anyway, our current schedule (which we will include in the next post, Lord willing) has been overhauled quite a bit since our first one 12 years ago. Things that bring about changes in our schedule include: having more children, having different aged children, shifts in priorities, our increasing ability to realize our goal of having the older children working with the younger (and vice versa!), a desire to teach our children as much as possible using real life tasks and events rather than those which are contrived and even the size and configuration of our house.

So next we will work on posting our current schedule, with some explanatory notes. (It takes a while for me to be concise in writing!) We hope that by posting this information, it will be an encouragement to someone.