Part One: The Benefits of Teaching Kids to Make Their Own Schedule
Can your kids make their own schedule?
It would be so cool if one more thing could be taken off the to-do list that busy homeschool moms have to do. If they would actually keep their own schedule, that would be even cooler! The secret is to help them create it and then, put them in charge of it. But there’s more to the picture than relieving pressure from come parent’s task list. Let me tell you a story that shows you why giving them responsibilities like making their own schedule can help them become problem solvers with the ability to work with integrity.
The biggest benefit of achieving control over one’s own schedule: A true story
We depended on a large garden to supply most of our vegetables. The garden was huge in order to feed nine people!
One day, I was working in the garden to get it ready to plant our Spring garden. I had tilled the soil and marked off where the rows should go. Then, I placed the packets of seeds at the beginning of each row that I wanted the seeds to be planted in. After that, I called five of my kids out to the garden spot to finish what I had started. My kids had worked with me for several seasons by then so they knew how to plant the seeds. So, I paired up the two oldest ones to plant a couple of sections and I paired up the next three boys who were very close in age to plant other sections.
I reminded them of a long-standing rule for chores, “This is how much I think you can get done in an hour. If it takes you longer, I’m sorry that you take so long. If you get done early, then you are done and I won’t add more to your list.”
What was I thinking?
I walked away and went inside to prepare lunch. After a few minutes, I suddenly panicked when I thought of their natural inclination to tease. I believed I would look outside and see them chucking seeds at each other instead of working together. I ran to the door and swung it open. But, I stopped in my tracks when I saw them.
The oldest two were quietly working their rows individually.
The three younger boys had formed a team. The oldest was pulling a hoe to part the dirt to the depth he needed. Then the next boy dropped the seed in the trench. The third boy was covering the seed that had been placed. I had never worked with them like that. I was amazed.
It takes work and determination on the parent’s part first
In the years before the garden story happened, I had worked hard to teach them to be a responsible part of our family. I allowed for lots of discovery time and gave them room to figure things out on their own. I didn’t always tell them the answer or tell them exactly how to do things. My goal was for them to become problem solvers. I equipped them and taught them, but I tried to leave the solutions for them to figure out.
Working together and having the ability to work independently had become instilled in them indirectly through having to be responsible for their own schedules.
This is part of a series called, “How to Organize Your Homeschool Life”. It’s hard to organize a lifestyle, especially since there are no two exactly alike! I took that into consideration when I wrote about the different steps to take in order to bring a sense of peace and stability into the home. Start with this first post that gives an overview of each stage of organizing:” How to Organize Your Homeschool Life“.
Why does keeping a schedule empower a child to become a mature, responsible adult?
Making their own task list or schedule is part of homeschool training
If you want your children to learn how to work independently, then teach them how to make their own list of tasks to be completed. It is only part of the whole picture but it is a very necessary one. Your child’s role in y our family will have a chance to mature when you create the schedule together. Then, he can be responsible to get his school work done on his own, or with little supervision.
One of the main goals of a homeschool parent is to teach their kid how to be accountable. Starting early with age-appropriate accountability instills character traits that will be with them for the rest of their life. Creating their own schedule gives them a sense of pride in completing their work.
Strong work ethic
Another benefit of being able to stay on task is the fact that a strong work ethic will instil another character trait that your child will hold as his own standard as an adult. Keeping their own list or log adds physical movement and mental acknowledgement of their achievements. The combination “seals” in a sense of pride in their own accomplishments.
Able to complete what is started
Learning to stay on task is a huge factor for most kids. They can be distracted with schoolwork yet concentrate on a video game so keenly that you may have to physically get in their way to break their concentration. It’s possible that curiosity has been stifled by over stimulating a different part of the brain. Let that creativity come alive with their school studies, not video games. Help them work a different part of the brain and develop a desire to know more and to work it out in order to achieve what they want to know more about! Satisfying their curiosity fuels the desire to keep going and complete the task.
Can all that really be done?
I know that all of this sounds idealistic, but if you allow curiosity to be stimulated, great discoveries can be made. When discovery is made (not told), then the satisfaction it gives becomes a desire to do that again. It’s the same “feel good” about winning that they get by achieving a level of a video game. With that sense of accomplishment, they can finish the task and check it off their list. They can move on to the next item on the list because they will crave that sense of accomplishment again.
To learn more about this way of teaching and learning read this article: The Best Way to Homeschool Your Children
What if my kids won’t complete their own schedule?
Don’t let your kid be surprised one day as an adult because they can’t retain employment due to an inability to be self-motivated. This is one of the best things about homeschool! You get to teach them things beyond the classroom.
Working with the child during their formative years is hard but necessary. Children need to be taught that their actions will receive a reaction, good or bad. Actions can reap rewards or consequences. You can both evaluate the list together if a reasonable effort has been made to achieve the items on the list Did he do his best but didn’t get it done? Adjust the schedule if you need to. Did he simply not get it done for lack of self-discipline? Help him with self-discipline by being fair about what you are expecting. Start small and work up to the level he needs to be. Reward the “wins”; be firm about the consequences.
Important part of the family
It’s important to feel valued as a member of the family. It translates into knowing self-worth in society. Being responsible for what you agreed on together will instill a value that will last a lifetime. In the action steps I describe below, your child will determine with you what his list or plans should look like. You will instill a sense of self-worth by simply meeting with your child, working the schedule together, and determining what can be achieved. Finally, give them the approval they need with a “job well done” when they finish the task.
An unexpected benefit: Parents learn to let go
Finally, you, dear parent, will learn that you need to let them grow in these areas of their character. Don’t squelch an important part of their growth by having to be in control of every detail and then, punishing them when they haven’t had the chance to develop the skill. The longer that you allow him to make his own schedule and accomplish his own goals, the more you will find out how smart your child really is! Empower them to be responsible.
Part Two: How to Work on a List Together
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Sit with your child and listen: team work
- Look at the planner together
- Determine which will work best for your situation
- Talk about what THEY think they can accomplish
- Ask them what THEY think will be a fair consequence if they don’t get it done
- Agree on the reward and consequence
- Put that in writing! Work on a positive statement to display where they can see it
Set up the Calendar
- Fill in the dates if it is a printable, blank calendar
- Fill in appointments and block the time
- Evaluate how to split the subjects next
Divide Subjects into chunks of time
- By the batch
- Set aside a large portion of time to get several lessons done at once
- Fill in the appropriate day you will do that
- Fill in the master calendar
- Record what you did in the proper column
- By Increments
- Divide the lessons into how many days it will take to complete them
- Fill in the appropriate time in each weekday (or list what needs to be finished that day but leave time allotments open in case one takes longer
- Fill in the master calendar
- Record what you did in the proper column (checkmarks work)
- Communicate often
- Ask for a verbal explanation for each action step (work as a team, not a taskmaster)
- Repeat it back to see if they understood what is now your expectation
- Make adjustments as needed
- Transfer the results to the record section
- Record the results every day as part of your school time
- Get in the habit of recording results every day
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Try your new method of planning and tracking for four weeks. Then talk with your child about the level of success the method had. Make adjustments if you need to. Talk about what worked and what didn’t. What was the best thing about it? What was not liked? What was frustrating?
Then, decide what it will take to fine tune it if changes need to be made.
Try a “plan B”
There’s always the option to try a different method If it really didn’t work at all and an unacceptable amount of progress was made. Some people like to get one thing done before starting another, others need a switch after a certain amount of time.
Here’s what I did with my kids. I taught them what worked well for me and then told them, “If you want to do it a different way and get the same results or better, that’s fine.”
Just giving them permission to be different made all the difference in the world. The secret is, they usually ended up coming back to what I showed them! But, sometimes, they had a better way.
One day, you will reflect on how this skill helped your child but you will love the long-term benefits that your child will have because he makes his own schedule and completes his goals.
Write to me and let me know how it is working for you. Questions? Please email me! I answer every email. You can find me here: [email protected]
Lots of love,
Veteran Homeschooler, avid gardener, and proud grandma
I believe that you can design a peaceful lifestyle while you homeschool, complete with a garden if you want, and meals that will make the best memories you ever could imagine!
I homeschooled seven kids through high school, starting them all with a lot of planned, hands-on activities. Then, I centered subjects around the activities. That gave them lots of room for their natural curiosity to be satisfied as they learned about God’s world.
Let me help you teach kids, grow food, and stay calm!
“But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be provided for you. – Mat 6:33 CSB