30 September 2009

MOTH: Managers of Their Homes

You may remember that I purchased a "practical guide to daily scheduling for Christian homeschool families" with my $50 Rainbow Resource credit, which I earned writing reviews of some of my homeschool books (see saga here).

Managers of Their Homes, or MOTH, as it's sometimes referred to, is a spiral-bound, 180 page manual on the why and how-to of scheduling a large (or small) Christian homeschooling family. Many books are written from a Christian worldview that can be read, enjoyed and used by non-Christians. MOTH, however, is not. After convincing you why scheduling is important (but you already knew that, if you're already searching for a scheduling system), the Maxwells give you "The Key to Successful Scheduling" (drum roll): it is for mom to have daily quiet time with the Lord.

Teri and Steve Maxwell are homeschool veterans, and they understand that homeschoolers have different needs than may be adequately covered by other scheduling methods. With this in mind, they have 5 chapters that address topics like interruptions and challenges to a schedule; they account for how a homeschool family's schedule can change from school year to summer-time; and they have a unique view on how to schedule in "Priorities." What qualifies as a "priority," you wonder... it is sewing, reading to your preschoolers, painting, scrapbooking. This is one thing I had never considered, that I am grateful for the Maxwells for pointing out. Their philosophy is this: If you always wait for a four-hour, child-free block of time to do what you think is fun, or a task you must do (such as taxes), then you may never get around to it. But if each day you schedule a half-hour dedicated to that task, you will do it much sooner. Such time is well-spent if it helps a housebound (sorry, homeschooling) mother do things that rejuvinate her spirit.

Another thing that the Maxwells thought of is scheduling time for everyone who is involved in an activity. If Jackson has swimming at 5 p.m., what am I doing? What are the other kids doing? This system makes you account for everyone, each hour. It helps you consciously decide to do math with your fourth-grader while the baby naps.

One thing that was a totally new idea was having older siblings watch the younger siblings while you work one-on-one with a school-age child. It fosters sibling relationships, independence, care-taking, and responsibility!

Features that I found to be helpful included a Q & A section at the back, in which Teri Maxwell gives advice based on her family's successful use of the system. Also encouraging were letters at the front of each chapter from one of the 24 families that "tested" MOTH before it was published.

On the down side, this book has 40 pages of sample schedules of the "test families." I found these to be of very little value when I made my own schedule. In addition, on every page of instruction, there are two-inch sidebars which are filled up with comments from the families who did the "testing" of the scheduling system. I found them to be distracting unless I focused on them at the end of each chapter, so they didn't break up my train of thought as much.

Also, there is a lot of focus on the final presentation of the schedule: cutting up different colors of paper for each child or parent, using sticky-tac to adhere the squares to the final paper. I think it's a lot less work and mess to just write each person in a different color pen.

Well, after using the scheduling system for about a month, all I have to say (ha!) is one word: discipline. Let me rephrase that: DISCIPLINE!!

Like any other scheduling system, it falls onto the shoulders of one person: the discipline of the mother to follow it. If you slack off, the kids wander off to the t.v. and the work doesn't get done. I felt at times exhausted just thinking of following my schedule for another 10 hours. It can be overwhelming to see all you have to do and are responsible for in one place! It is important to leave time to transition from activity to activity, to schedule free time. It makes it so much sweeter after you've had a day of productivity!

I'm so pleased you are reading Higher Education! Click on the post title to leave a comment!
Teresa (Tracy) Dear



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