This seems to be the time of year when this topic gets hot - as everyone is trying to select next years books, plan lessons and decide what they can and cannot accomplish next year. So I am going to put down a few of my thoughts on how I schedule, since it is a topic I love (weird, I know). And really, I should say, this goes way beyond simply scheduling out school subjects. What I have learned is that my life needs a rhythm, and my kids need a rhythm, and so when I talk about routines, I am really talking about our daily life, not just our "school time." Of course, then we could get all philosophical about how really all time is "school time" and that LIFE is our school which makes the previous statements completely unnecessary, but we won't go there :)
First, let me share some of the wonderful resources that have helped me develop routines for our day. Managers of Their Homes (MOTH) is a great resource for anyone with multiple children who is trying to find sanity in scheduling. It is a complete system of how to prioritize duties, schedule children and their interactions with you and each other, and managing household duties while still having some time for yourself. MOTH can be intimidating, especially for those who are not into planning every moment of the day, but I love the giant planning schedule with colored blocks they have to help you plan what everyone will be doing throughout the day. Along the same lines as MOTH, but on a bit more relaxed scale, is a wonderful book A Mother's Rule of Life. Holly Pierlot was introduced to the concepts of MOTH at a time when she was in despair about her homeschool chaos. After struggling to find peace in her home, she wrote this book that really goes in depth into what she calls the 5 P's of our lives - Prayer, Person, Partner, Parent and Provider. This book is something of a spiritual journey, and I love her approach to a schedule, which revolves around first establishing the times of prayer for the day, then working all of our other roles around those moments. This has been a special blessing for me as our women's study group has been reading Beginning to Pray by Anthony Bloom.
Finally, the other book I really think all women and homeschool mothers especially should read is The Quotidian Mysteries. If you have ever felt depressed about not being able to "get it all done," or you feel sometimes that the daily chores of a stay-at-home mom are looked down on in the world today, this book will give you some wonderful encouragement. The term "quotidian" is from the Latin for everyday or daily, and in this little book author and poet Kathleen Norris speaks about her journey of realization that the "everyday" is what really matters, that here is where we find the things that God has given us to struggle with in order to turn our minds to Him. It is a quick read, and one I keep handy to give me a lift in those moments when I can't bear the thought of folding another load of laundry! What gave me the most peace from this book was the realization that I can never "get it all done." I am a "list" person, I like to check things off, finish them. The tasks I struggle with the most emotionally and spiritually are those that can never be finished (like the laundry :). So I have come to terms with the fact that I can never "catch up" or really finish my work, but rather this work has been given to me as a way to draw closer to God.
I will post again on more of the nitty-gritty of my own personal schedules, but I wanted to share these books first. They are the resources that slowly led me to develop the routines that are working for us and serve as an inspiration and encouragement to me as I stumble along trying to find my footing as a mother and homeschooler.