Last month I shared a tidbit from the fledgling Lindsay homeschool: we have a Poetry Tea with our children every Thursday morning during 'break time'. I like how this blurs the line between school and play. Of course, this is just one idea that may help some families develop a culture of learning and so can be adapted in other ways, but I am equally interested in the deeper question of how we approach learning and time. I recently read a good article by Dr. Christopher Perrin on Learning and Leisure, concepts that may appear contradictory in our busy world. In it, he points to the value of restful learning in classical education and the importance of allowing plenty of time for contemplation. Mastery of a subject cannot develop when a student studies eight plus courses. This article is well worth the read and thought. Our Poetry Tea may well be a practical outworking of this learning leisure theme.
While we are on the topic of time - and I don't believe this in any way undermines our previous point - let me comment on the value of careful daily scheduling. I know that time management is a major challenge in many Christian households and homeschools. There are days when valuable time seems to leak out through every seam. Sometimes the difference between a family that thrives and one that merely crawls along depends on how time is used everyday, in a thousand little things. Here are some quick tips for improving family time management:
1) prioritize personal and family devotions
2) create schedules and post them visibly around the house
3) regularly evaluate your schedule - does it match what's more important?
4) front load the day with the higher level activities; some children may find one or another subject (eg. math) helpful in preparing their minds to concentrate for the day
5) give time for contemplation and restful activity
Remember that schedules don't need to mean every hour of every day is tightly constrained with no room for flexibility. A schedule actually is what provides flexibility. Having a schedule liberates your mind from remembering everything at once because necessary activities are accounted for and have their appropriate time slot. You don't need to worry about task X because its time will come later. Above all, allow time for leisurely learning, reading and discussion with children at any age.
FUN FACT: How many syllables in the word 'time?" You probably said one, but in Shakespeare's day, it was pronounced with two syllables: 'ty-eem'. I learned this from a Monty Python sketch.