Creating a structured time for homeschooling

by Mary Ann on September 1, 2010

Structuring time, not content, is one of the Seven Keys of Success found in Thomas Jefferson Education: Teaching a Generation of Leaders for the Twenty First Century by Oliver DeMille.  If you look at the lives of truly great leaders you find three things in their education – time, mentors, and classics. No method of learning is effective without adequate time. Time takes structure!

So let’s look closely at this structured family time. What does it look like? In most of the home school families I work with it plays out like this or some variation of this: the family gets up and eats. Many families get organized, dressed and get chores out of the way. Family time begins with an opening of some kind. For some families it is a devotional with music, prayer and reading from their spiritual cannon. For others it is a pledge, show and tell, organizing the day or some combination of both.

At some point the parent reads to the children from a classic piece of literature that they have chosen. Reading time varies from 15 minutes to one hour and from one chapter to a whole thin book. It is different for each family and sometimes different each day. After that, in some families, children read to each other or each member of the family takes a turn reading in a classic the children have chosen.

Then there is usually free study time. For children in core and love of learning phase this is “play”. Marie Montessori said that play was the child’s work. The Spark Station  is really helpful for parents here, because they can keep things on hand that they would like their children to “play” with, to learn about, and to engage with. They have a means to inspire their children. This free study time can last from one hour to five or more depending on the family.

This structured family time has a lot of different names. For those educated at home it is “structured family learning time”, “school time”, or “home school”. On Sunday it is “at home, rest and worship time”. In any family it might be “family time”, either once a week or every evening after work and school, public or other wise.

Every family needs to have some structured time where parents and children can be together on a regular basis and parents can use tools and systems to inspire their children. Take a look at your weekly schedule and decide where you can structure time for your family and then be consistent about using that time. Allow your children to be able to count on it.

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