To Schedule, Or Not To Schedule, That Is The Question?

“Create a Schedule.”

I have read so many books on scheduling that I could probably teach a university course on the subject. Just kidding. I will definitely leave that to the scheduling professionals. But in all seriousness, I go back and forth between having every minute of the day scheduled out and just winging it and seeing what the day has in store. Anybody else have these moments?

As a mom in my 9th year of homeschooling (pre-school totally counts), I have been so focused on my scheduling that I have had schedules broken down into 15 and 30-minute increments all the way up to bedtime. The children knew when it was time to: play with a specific sibling, have reading time, engage in kindness time (making cards to send to people), eat lunch, fold laundry, clean up, have online learning time, etc. For the few weeks that the schedule was in place, life was good, and the house stayed reasonably orderly. I felt like we finally had a good thing going.

But then the inevitable happens. LIFE. Someone gets sick, a child needed way more time to complete an assignment, we stay late at church, an evening event pops up on the calendar, etc. That’s life. But for some reason, maybe it’s a mental block, it’s always so much more of a challenge to get back into the swing of the schedule after the hiccup has subsided.

Over the years, we seem to have developed a cycle: find a rhythm (aka schedule), something disrupts it, struggle to find the rhythm again. That’s always been my biggest “struggle” with having such a strict schedule; it makes it hard to factor in the unplanned parts of life. But while it lasts, life seems to make some semblance of sense. Sigh

Then, there is the other extreme. Letting each new day take you on a journey, come what may. There is a certain thrill to living life as it comes. My scheduling friends may be cringing at that notion and find no thrill to it whatsoever. I completely understand. As a homeschooler, I know that I have certain freedoms that allow breaks to occur at the most seemingly random times of the week. However, there are some weeks where doing our learning sitting around the table just isn’t working.

Sometimes the children, and mama too, if I’m being honest, just aren’t into a typical “school” day. Maybe it’s such a beautiful day that we would prefer to be outdoors. Maybe we just need to step away from some difficult content and come back later with a fresh perspective. Maybe there’s a creative way to directly apply that difficult content in an outdoor activity.

Whatever the reason, I appreciate the ability to have everyone close their books and declare a field trip day without the (self-imposed) guilt and pressure of it not fitting into the schedule. Those are the days when some of our best learning happens. Can I get an applause from my Unschooler friends?!

What is the happy medium? Life cannot be lived only if it fits into a specific schedule, however, I also believe that structure is valuable and needed. Without structure, especially on days when getting outside isn’t possible, things can become quite chaotic, especially for the little ones. I would love to hear your tips on how you manage, schedule, and organize your school. What works best for you? Are you a scheduler? Are you free-flowing? Are you somewhere in the middle? What helps your life to make sense?

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