Reader Advice

Barbara’s Tips

Dear Teri:

Thought of you the other day, and thought you would enjoy this.

Our older son is almost 10. I had completed our schedule with the little paper squares (thank you for the kit!!) and was discussing it with him in our first test of the “new” schedule. He listened and then said, “Well, Mom, that sounds ok, but may I share with you what I would make if it were MY schedule to plan? Hmm… the goal in all this is to make them self directed, right?”

So I said, “Ok, what would YOU plan for yourself?” He then proceeded to lay out in excellent detail schoolwork suggestions and + and – consequences for the Monday-Friday schedule. And it was excellent! I had no quarrel. In fact, his plans had some margin time that were better than mine. I could see he was buying into the schoolwork and that he had thought this through. I told him I would consider his suggestions and get back to him.

Two hours later I got back to him and told him I was proud of his ideas. Turns out, he had written it out for me by then … so I pulled off my sticker tabs and re-arranged them according to his suggested plan. Voila! New schedule. And he is buying into it 100%.

Today he ended up with an hour of extra time. “I know, Mom, this is a test, right? You want to see how I will use my FREE time, right? If I will use it in a good way or not.” Hmm, wisdom coming out. “That’s right, kiddo,” I smiled. “Use it wisely or I direct it for you.”

He told me today that he likes working on the subjects on his own and then doing the schedule tutor Q&A time with me, which is only about 20 minutes. We discuss his history work over lunch.

I was really glad I built in margin to our subjects; if I have to deal with a heart attitude with the younger one, I know that I have time to deal with it and we are not 3 subjects behind. I also scheduled in two 15 minute reading aloud times with the younger one (7 1/2) as he needs the one/one time and he is the one with the strong will, choleric temperament. By scheduling those close times together, we get relationship time in the a.m., afternoon and also night time.

Thanks for doing such a great job in your book!


Importance of revising

Dear Teri,
I wanted to relate a short testimony about our experience with scheduling. If you remember last spring when I first heard your workshop on scheduling, I bought your book and we established a schedule for the rest of the school year. As I wrote you then, it worked so well it was a shame there weren’t more school days remaining! I did a summer schedule which, although we didn’t follow strictly, gave us a sort of ‘jumping off place’ for our lazy days. We don’t school in summer, but I took your advice and scheduled the extra time to work on discipline, character and chore training. I truly felt like we had accomplished something by the time August rolled around.

Unfortunately, I let myself get too busy with outside things (company, special projects, etc.) and when we were ready to start school, I devoted only a few minutes to ‘revising’ last spring’s schedule for use this year. It needed much more work than that as we had changed Thomas’ curriculum from a textbook-based program that allowed him to work almost completely independently to a literature-based plan that required much more time spent reading aloud with mom and sister.

We LOVE the curriculum, but trying to do it on the ‘tentative’ schedule I had thrown together was truly like putting“new wine in old wineskins” (and was just about that messy!). We struggled through fall with several major family events keeping me from seeing the real problem/taking the time to address the issue.

In mid-January, after our Christmas vacation in Texas was extended three extra weeks by Rob’s 81-year old mother being hospitalized in Houston, we finally came to grips with the situation. Rob graciously spent many hours one weekend with me re-examining our priorities, fine tuning our curriculum, and completely overhauling the schedule. The result: the last three weeks of school have ‘run like a top’ and been a great big hug from God reminding me of why I am doing this in the first place! A schedule is a marvelous tool, but using the wrong tool for the job can be very frustrating and not terribly efficient.

I cannot thank you enough (again) for writing your book and helping other homeschoolers like me to ‘relax’ and enjoy teaching knowing that everything important will get done. Please keep reminding other moms that schedules need revising whenever major changes in school/home life take place and it is more than worth the time it takes to work out a better plan. Some of us are slow learners.

Praying God is rewarding you richly for your great service to homeschoolers,

1/2 Hour of Cleaning

The reason that this book is so different from anything else I’ve ever seen is: 1) Geared towards ‘larger’ families 2) Lots of homeschooling advice 3) 15-30 increments where you don’t try to finish a project in one ‘sitting’. I don’t know if the last one makes sense so I’ll try to explain further.

Lots of times I feel I don’t even want to start a project because I can’t finish it. Let’s say ‘clothes rotation’. Well her ‘philosophy’ of scheduling would say to work on it 1/2 hour a day for a certain time and then in a week you’ve worked on it 2-3 hours. Well that’s a lot of progress. Or the fridge!! UGH!!! Not a job I like. Well if you worked on it for 15 minutes a day for several days you would have a sparkling clean fridge in a week.

I’m not finished with the manual but one thing we’ve started that has been a lifesaver is 1/2 hour of straightening/cleaning before breakfast, lunch, dinner and bedtime. Well that’s 5 people ‘cleaning’ 2 hours a day. It has made a HUGE difference on keeping up with the house. It is always tidy and ready for daddy to return home. No longer does it seem that he comes into a ‘war zone’ but rather a ‘haven’. He really appreciates it!!!!! Dennis tends to be more ‘organized’ than me (and I actually love to be organized and on schedule, I just couldn’t find anything that really worked) and so together we are really excited to implement this schedule.

An example of how he is working with the schedule and ‘helping’ me with a 1 hour alone block for ‘mommy’ is reading out loud to the kids every night for one hour. We do Bible reading right after supper and I’m cleaning the kitchen and listening as he reads. Then from 6-7 he reads to the boys and I have ALONE time! It is so wonderful (even though I nurse Stephen for 1/2 hour of that time I still thoroughly enjoy my time while the boys are with daddy).

Beth’s Tips

Hi Teri,

One handy thing I’ve found with using the kit is that I posted the large Master schedule on the wall while we’re still in the “tweaking” stage. That way I can still rearrange things quite easily. I even put a blank sheet of paper beside it to jot notes about things I might want to consider changing. Using the kit is also a great way for the kids to have some “ownership” in the project. After all, who else is going to cut out all those little squares! My children loved choosing their colors and then cutting out their own squares.

Perhaps the ease of rearranging is a big key to success. Like you said—all that erasing gets old and I think in the past I’ve failed at a schedule because I’ve never taken the time to perfect it. It was just too much hassle!


Deb L.

Hi Sarah,
I just wanted to thank you for writing and to let you know how the “manager” is working in our home. We are a family of seven. Our children are 15, 11, 9, 5 and 18 months. I found that the 1/2 hour intervals made me a little uptight each day, as it was very difficult to stick to it exactly. Every time I looked, we were “behind”.

By the middle of October I decided “this isn’t working”. So I sat down with all my little colored peices of paper (which I think is a great idea, by the way), and ex-changed them all for the larger “ one hour pieces”. TaDa! I came up with something that works for us! I just scheduled more loosely. 7:00-9:00-devotions, prayer, dress, chores.
9:00-12:00-math, language arts, time with my 5 year old and baby.
12:00-2:30, lunch, recess and a walk.
2:30-5:00, other school subjects, dinner prep., baby’s naptime, my chores, etc. anyway, you get the picture. It works wonderfully (usually!). I just thought you might want to encourage a discouraged mom, if the 1/2 hour segments don’t work, try for larger blocks of time. It does wonders for keeping me from feeling “behind” and yet, we are accomplishing more with a schedule.

May the Lord richly bless your day.
In Christ, Deb L.

Becky’s Tips

I have found ways to refine my schedule all ready. I have always planned my meals each week; now I plan my meals each month, using crock-pot recipes, mostly (unless company’s coming). So I throw everything in the crock-pot during my morning chore routine (10-11 a.m.). That way, supper prep is only about 15 minutes (kids set table, I make a vegetable). I have a wonderful slow cooker recipe book, not just stews.


The Secret Behind Scheduling

Hi Teri,

Something very fascinating has happened to me. I have discovered the source of my discouragement. My problem is that I am not spending any quiet time with the Lord. I haven’t for years. Just the “fly by the seat of your pants” kind of time. You know, I just can’t wing it after so many years. I wasn’t drawing near to Him and I had conceded that all of my homeschooling friends had the same problems that I had. We were all just burned out and overburdened. The truth is that I started this all on the Lord’s strength, and was trying to just “coast along” after so many years. It wasn’t working.

I have been so guilty of worrying over everything! I know now that I must carry everything to God in prayer. And leave it there. And trust.

He is so able to take care of everything that concerns me, my family, my future. Why do I forget? Anyway, just thought that you would understand how such a simple act of faith (mustard seed) could relieve such a heavy burden from my shoulders. WHICH will now be possible because I have it scheduled in my day, first thing. I called it “Tea time with the Lord.”


What Do Children Think

Today, my four year old, Sarah, said, “We didn’t do the schedule today. Why? I like the schedule!” That was nice to hear. I’m hoping to have it back in full force starting Monday.


You should hear some of the things some ladies are telling me! One lady has never had her children do pretty much any chores. Well, her children are loving their schedule, and chores!


The quote of the day: (Kate speaking) “Joe! It’s time for cookies!” (Joe responds) “Not now, Kate, I’m vacuuming!”


I just had to share my “quote of theweek” with you. Yesterday Kate went up to the schedule posted onthe wall and said, “Ok, Mom. Now what do I do—and I don’t want free time.” She’s getting such a kick out of having so many fun things to do. Since THE SCHEDULE we’ve made play dough and we play with it every day—she’s finger painted; she’s had oodles of stories read just to her. We read aloud all the time, but she has to listen to books for the older kids. Now she gets her own. And I actually sit down just with her and do “pre-school.” What fun we’re having.”

How to help a non-reader“read”

My non-reading child was frustrated because I had to read the schedules to him. I solved the problem by drawing pictures in the squares for him.