I’ve been reading a lot more about Charlotte Mason’s homeschooling methodology lately, and I came across a little nugget of truth that I think has widespread ramifications. The book that I’m reading says to make living books the heart of your homeschooling day, but to not be a slave to them. If you find a book on Greek myths but decide that only one chapter educates the child in the way you deem fit, then there’s no reason to read the rest of the book. Move on to something else.
This applies to our lives with our children when we follow a schedule. Having a schedule (or routine) with your children pays huge dividends. A schedule keeps our children focused and out of trouble. It keeps them active and entertained, away from boredom and mischief. A schedule helps us ensure that they are learning and living their best lives.
But just as important as it is to set a book aside when it has served its purpose, we should treat our schedule the same way. We must realize when it has served its purpose. And rather than toss the schedule out the window once our kids start school or once they seem “old enough” and require less direction, we would be better off revising our schedule. Our schedule only works as long as it’s effective in achieving our goals. If we start to ignore our schedule for whatever reason and then become exasperated with our children, we need to look to our schedule first.
Coming back to the title of this post, we also need to realize when the schedule is ruling our lives. We cannot become a slave to our schedules. The schedule serves us, not the other way around. This is the same with living books in Charlotte Mason homeschools. The books must serve us, not the other way around. So rather than toiling away at the same schedule (or book) that has lost its effectiveness, we are better off setting it aside and considering what our schedule should look like given our current circumstances.
Another thing to consider when reevaluating your schedule is the type of schedule-follower you are. Are you the type that will follow your schedule to the minute? Or are you more inclined to not follow a schedule and let your day flow as it may? I think there’s a happy medium there that works best. We don’t to be a stickler and rigidly have roomtime when a neighbor comes to the door to play. Nor do we want to have a super-flexible day where there’s no time for enriching activities like roomtime and sustained silent reading.
Take a minute and reconsider your schedule or routine. Is it serving your purposes? Is it making you the best parent you can be? Is it enabling you to do more than simply make it to the end of the day? Whatever the reason, take a second look at your schedule. Revise it as needed. And here’s a little hint: rather than type it up on the computer or write it up neatly in columns, just scratch it out in pencil. Think of it as your first draft. Follow your schedule draft for a solid week before typing it up or writing it out in pen. Make a concerted effort to follow your new schedule, but keep an eraser handy so you can change it as you go.