Finding the Time

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I’m so excited to be participating in my very first “31 Days” series! All this month, join me every week day as I write about the place that we’re in: 31 Days of Classical Homeschooling in a Large Family!

Hands down, the question I hear most often is “How do you have time to homeschool all six of your children, clean the house, have a life, and keep your sanity?” Of course, the completely honest answer is “I don’t”! I know, I know! That really doesn’t give you any insight into how I do accomplish what I’m able to. Just remember though, all families are different – and the larger they are the more creative you’ll have to be to accomplish your purposes in day to day life. 

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I am going to tell you something: I have two secret weapons when it comes to getting ANYTHING accomplished on a daily basis: My MOTH {or Managers of Their Homes} schedule and my MLO {or My Life Organized} app.

Today, I’m going to share a glimpse into my MOTH schedule and how I created it to work with classically homeschooling six children. I am very time oriented, but pretty highly distractible at the same time so without a good solid schedule in place, I, and my husband, kids, and home around me, tend towards chaos. I can’t help myself! I love running off on tangents, taking unexpected days off, and taking time to relax and visit or create or even just sleep. However, my children need an education, my home needs cleaning, and my husband needs feeding so I have to master a little self-discipline in order to not waste every day away on unimportant tasks.

I actually waited WAY longer than I should to spend the $35 on the Managers of Their Homes book because of all the reviews that I read that said Mrs. Maxwell is very strict and demanding with how you set up your family’s schedule. What I’ve found is exactly the opposite. In the book, she is very straight forward and pragmatic about what type of expectations to put on your schedule, your kids, and yourself. She also gives lots and lots of room for error and growth, and lots of encouragement for when you feel like you have fallen short. It’s a bit expensive for a book, but ~in my honest opinion~ you’re getting what you pay for!

Scheduling Mom

When I made my first MOTH schedule, I was really, really detailed. As in, I had left myself about 30 minutes of time to relax and ‘be free’ during the day. My husband warned me as soon as he saw it that I would burn out in a day or so and he was so right! Even if you have a lot of things to do each day, start by scheduling your rest times… and be realistic about how much time you need to recharge throughout the day. For example, I have two 30 minute ‘breaks’ scheduled throughout the school day where I’m ‘supervising’ children instead of actually being right in the middle and over top of them. These times were hard fought for {and I still occasionally have to put my foot down and remind people that they are able to do it themselves from time to time!} and hard won, and critical to me making it through a day of schooling 6 kids on 6 different levels and 4 different grades. I also scheduled in 15 minutes in the early morning and an hour in the evenings for me to do whatever strikes my fancy… including sleeping late or taking a nap after Daddy gets home from work. {Mrs. Maxwell schedules things like ‘sewing’ or ‘writing’ specifically because that’s how she needs it to be but says that we should schedule our time to be the most appealing and efficient to us, not her.}

If you’re hoping to hear that schooling a large family is simple or quick, you’re at the wrong blog! I have plans and goals to teach my children to self teach some of their subjects… and more and more as they get older… but this type of education, at least when you have a lot of children and they are as young as mine {9,8,8,6,6,5} requires a serious time commitment. I don’t know any other way around it! Sorry! My scheduled school time takes between 7 and 10 hours each day. Some of that is one-on-one time with children; they each have time scheduled to cover anything that they personally need. Some of that is teaching family subjects to all six children. Some of that is supervising time- making sure everyone is on task, understanding assignments, and completing them in a reasonable amount of time.

Although my children are scheduled to complete work on their own, I am interacting with them almost constantly. They come to me with questions about things they don’t understand, and I go to them with questions to make sure they are understanding the material. I check most of their work as we go through the day… mainly because I hate having to sit down and use my valuable “free time” to grade papers. I believe in mastery not quantity {and have the luxury of homeschooling my children so I can enforce it}, therefore I also make them redo work that they’ve done incorrectly, sloppily, or with a really bad attitude. {Nothing teaches a better lesson about complaining and making everyone miserable about you doing your daily handwriting practice then having to complete it once, neatly, then having to do it again, happily and neatly! bwa-ha-ha!!}

Schedule Breaks for the Kids

Schedule your children regular free times, breaks, and movement as well. I schedule my kids movement {everything from play to chores} directly after the subjects they consider more complicated. So for my oldest son, he has a play time after phonics, and another after his catechism work because those are more difficult for him. His twin sister, however, has a playtime scheduled directly after her math work, then again after handwriting. It helps them refresh and recharge for the rest of the day, even if the break is ten minutes to run outside and jump on the trampoline!

Scheduling Kindergarten

I, personally, schedule my kindergartener two blocks of time each day with me one-on-one for his school work {He gets two hours undivided, which is the most because he is not comfortable at all reading on his own.} Then we keep him occupied during the rest of the day with hands-on tasks, busy bags {and boxes}, worksheets, activities, computer time, rotating playtimes, etc. In the morning, he has 60 minutes to do his phonics, handwriting, bible, and sight words. In the afternoon, he has another 60 minutes where we do math, bible {yes… he does it twice!}, and grammar. He also is required to participate in family subjects {science, history, geography, character training, bible memory, etc.}. I schedule times where he is occupied with listening to older children read their assigned reading as well. He is also required to have “Quiet Time” in his room but is not required to sleep. Some days he will crawl into bed and doze right off, and some days he is in the midst of a quiet explosion of cars and army men and zoo animals. It just all depends!

Scheduling 1st Grade

I have two children in 1st grade, and at two different reading levels, so 1st grade is a bit of an amalgamation. The boys each get between 45 minutes and 60 minutes scheduled with me as one-on-one during the day to do their phonics and sight words, math, and bible. They participate in family subjects as well. And don’t shoot me for this one: they also have seatwork where they put their skills learned in one-on-one to good use. To me, my boys are still a little young to do any self teaching at this point, but they also rebel against doing too many ‘kindergarten activities’ to fill in the rest of their school days so we discovered seatwork. :- ) The boys are also required to have Quiet Time, and I split them up so that one is in the living room and the other is in their bedroom so they can actually rest.

Scheduling 2nd Grade

School starts to get easier{on Mom} and tougher {on them} once they get to about 7 or 8 years old. My 2nd graders have progressed onto having several subjects they complete on their own for me to grade in the afternoons {catechism, math, handwriting, typing, Bible}. They each have 30-45 minutes of one-on-one time with me each day for phonics, grammar, and spelling. Family subjects are in the afternoon, and the 2nd graders begin having their own worksheets, simple experiments, and projects to complete on their time, not mine, after the group lesson is completed. They are not required to take an official Quiet Time in the afternoon, although if I manage to have one they will!

Scheduling 4th Grade

My oldest daughter has it better and worse than the other children. She has a significantly heavier workload than the 2nd graders, more difficult books she must read and process, more complicated problems, more detailed lessons, and less time to get each accomplished. However, she has the most freedom in her daily schedule of any of the children. She has 30-45 minutes scheduled with me for grammar and spelling. {She’s starting Latin after Christmas so that will be with me as well!} Since her course load is heavier, I’m glad that her curriculum focuses on a few new areas each week. It makes it possible for us to have a longer one-on-one once or twice a week to teach the new concepts, then she is able to complete her assignments on her own for the most part. She is also required to participate in family subjects, with the added worksheets, experiments, and projects afterwards as well. She has free time scheduled into the afternoon instead of Quiet Time.

Crazy right?!? It’s a lot to keep in your head at once… which is why I always recommend writing down your daily schedule, especially if you have a larger family! Tomorrow in our 31 Days of Classical Homeschooling with a Large Family, I’m going to talk about how I manage to get any housework done around our massive schooling day, so don’t forget to subscribe so you don’t miss anything!

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3 thoughts on “Finding the Time

  1. Pingback: Day 6: Teaching Multiple Grade Levels | My Almost Domesticated Life

  2. Thank you so much for this! I just started homeschooling my son this year, and in a few years I’ll have three. I’m bookmarking this for the future and rereading it. It’s excellent. 🙂

  3. Thanks for the info! I, too, am a classical homeschooler and we are new to it all (I have a first grader). I look forward to reading more and learning from someone who is more seasoned than me.

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