It’s “Back-to-School” time—time to finalize that daily schedule for the upcoming semester or year (if it hasn’t been done already). This had been an annual affair when I was homeschooling my older kids, but now that our focus is guided by God and the Mark 12 framework, I haven’t really had a set schedule anymore. When God is leading things, what kind of schedule could I possibly create?
Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. (Ephesians 5:15-17)
I realized it is much better to establish daily goals instead of a rigid schedule.
It’s true that our daily structure and routine during these first few years has been minimal, to say the least; we simply spend our days doing something to address the heart, soul, mind, body, and service to others. It’s been a wonderful “deschooling” process and something I needed in order to detach from my previous education-related dependencies (there’s so much we do that can easily replace God in learning). It was also a time during which my daughter and I could both grow into the more biblical roles of student and mentor.
I knew about 6 months ago that we had reached a new level. That’s when my daughter first started to express an interest in stepping up her game. She wanted to improve her reading and writing skills. She wanted to learn about different cultures and events in history. But, instead of turning to curriculum catalogs and websites (as I would have in the past), I went directly to God and sought His counsel. The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps. (Proverbs 16:9). Through time spent in prayer and waiting, the Lord helped me understand exactly how we ought to structure our days so that we could forward along with Him.
So now, we are building upon the foundation God established when my youngest and I started down this road 3 years ago. With only a few adjustments to what we were already doing, these are our daily goals going into the 3rd grade year (Colors correspond to the “jewel” she receives if that category is addressed that day):
In this new stage of learning, we’re fine-tuning the tools my daughter has already picked up and incorporating more focused and/or self-driven studies.
The benefits of a goal-based structure/routine over time-centered schedules are significant:
- There are no time limits, just the Mark 12 categories—activities are not restricted by start/stop times so we are not pressured by clocks.
- There is total flexibility—the order of activities doesn’t matter, although we always start our day with prayer/listening and certain mental activities are best done earlier rather than later.
- Everything can be moved around or set aside should the Lord present us with a different opportunity that day—changes are guilt-free.
- We don’t have to do everything in the category—these are examples of activities that could be done on that day, but we probably wouldn’t have time to do them all (especially if she becomes really involved in something and doesn’t want to stop).
- There is balance when it comes choices, independent time, and follow-through on commitments—my daughter has the time and space to be spontaneous, but she also has chosen studies that require regular attention (like piano practice or improving her spelling).
- Unit studies can be short-term or long-term—we are not bound by semester or year-long time frames so my daughter can pursue lots of interests or just a few. A study can last a day, week, month, etc.
In the end, we are able to be much more intentional in the things we do without giving up the peace and freedom we have. Not only that, but God has been, and remains to be, at the center of it all!
Of course, I had some questions regarding appropriate resources that could truly be used in support of our studies…but, that’s a topic for another post.