do you set a timer?

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    Hello ladies,

    I have been really wanting to focus, especially with my 6 yo boy, on paying full attention while working. This actually comes much more naturally for him than for me! He is constantly telling ME to pay attention. :$ I want to keep BOTH of us on task, so that our day does not go as long as it has been. So I am thinking a timer is our best bet. I am wondering how long is appropriate to set it for? I need reasonable time limits for his age, but also for our family time (from 6yo to teen-age) read alouds, science/history books, etc.

    Anyone have any real-life times to share?

    Thanks for the help!


    I have used timers at times, for both school and chores. For a 6-year-old I think 10 minutes per lesson is appropriate. What exactly do you do as a family? I have ages 8 to 14 and for read-alouds (fun/literature) we do 20 minutes. For history (just the 10 and 8) we do 20 to 30 minutes, but we read from 2 to 4 books during that time. I do about 20 minutes of science with that same set; the older boys do science on their own (30 minutes). When my youngest was younger he would sit in the same room with us and play quietly with toys or play-dough or what have you during family work. He would narrate first and usually had a few things to say, but not a deep understanding.


    I simply wear a watch. I note the time when I begin the lesson and just end the lesson gracefully when the appropriate time has passed. I will say something like “Let’s stop here” or “We will pick up here tomorrow.” If we finish before time, she gets a few minutes to do as she pleases which is usually playing with her little sister.

    I don’t even think my dd6 is even aware that her lessons are timed. It is a beautiful thing when the child grasps the idea of paying full attention and how it benefits them in so many other areas of life, not just their lessons.

    I highly recommed all of the Laying Down the Rails products. They have been an amazing blessing to ME and my family. 

    The days that don’t go very well can usually be traced back to my own lack of attention. I am directly responsible for ensuring that the habit of attention is fostered daily and practiced/discussed if we get off course. If I am distracted, my child will be distracted. Paying attention is something we teach our children, but we must exhibilt the characteristic ourselves.  Pray over it often because, as homeschool mothers, we have many responsibilites. For example, I will easitly be thinking “what’s for supper?” instead of our math lesson.

    Most of our lessons are 15 minutes. If the resource is a book to be read alound, the time includes narration. 

    Some of the lessons which take longer than 15 minutes are handicrafts, nature walk, drawing, art instruction, etc. (We do those after lunch.)

    Things that take less than 15 minutes are memory work (repetition), composer study, picture study, scripture memory, poetry readings, LDTR4C, handwriting, and hymn study. 

    Please be encouraged! It takes time to practice short lessons and the habit of attention. You will get better and more efficient the more you practice. Liken it to training for a sport! Imagine how much better you could be after one month of diligence in this area. It will come, but it does take work and focused effort. I have learned by trial and error and I am still learning more each day! 🙂


     This actually comes much more naturally for him than for me! He is constantly telling ME to pay attention. :$ 

    Ask yourself “What is keeping me from paying attention?”  

    For me, simplifying my life as been the key to increased attention. There have been many threads and discussions about simplifying our homes on this forum lately and I took them straight to heart. This process of eliminating eveything we don’t need in our home has blessed so many other areas of our lives.

    If you haven’t listened to Sonya’s workshop about this very thing, I highly recommend it. It helped me tremendously. When you don’t have clutter in your home, your heart, your schedule, etc., you have all this room to breathe and focus on the relationships and the responsibilities of life.

    The habit of paying attention is a challenge for all CM moms but it is a treasure to be found. 🙂 Please don’t feel like you are alone because you are not and you came to the right place for understanding and help. 🙂 

    I also recommend Sonya’s seminar called Reaching Your Child’s Heart. I review my notes from this recording often because of the wisdom found in her words. She addresses multitasking and it has resonated within my heart for so long now. When I find myself doing two things at once, I can hear her words playing in my head and it helps me cease with my divided attention. 

    As much as it hurts, the days when you are still doing school at 3:00 p.m. because of failed attention on the part of the parent and/or child will actually cause you to rejoice! You get this great opportunity to reflect back at how you mishandled the day and learn from your mistakes. It’s great opportunity even though it won’t seem that way at the time. Isn’t much of life this way? LOL

    Give yourself some grace and rest assurred that you can fix the problem. Don’t forget to use all of the wonderful resources here at SCM to learn about this and just make little baby step improvements each day.  You can do it! 

    At His Feet, Mollie


    I set a timer for Literature read-aloud – 20 min.  (my daughter will be 7 in a few weeks).  Because I know past that, no matter how interesting the story might be, I typically lose her attention.  But, if she seems engaged and is asking questions, I will go a bit longer.  Other than that, I have not seen a need to set a timer for any other school related stuff.  I allow her to work on Math for as long as she wants since she loves it.  (She sometimes askes to do more than 1 lesson in a day). 

    I have found that the timer is a LIFE SAVER in the evenings.  Once we get to dinner time, she dawdles, tries to get up constantly etc. so I give her 15-20 min. to eat depending on the food.  When her times up, she is out of luck if she did not finish due to goofing around/not eating.  Then She gets 10 min to finish the rest of her eveing responsibilites (vitamins, tooth care, etc.).  Before that, getting her into bed at a decent time, without constant nagging was a huge struggle!  The timer has taken away our need to nag and get upset. 


    We use timers and I sit with the kids (at the table) to keep them going and keep me from becoming distracted by other things. I try to limit my screen time and try very hard to not be doing anything else during our school hours.  Multi-tasking doesn’t work for me during school time. 

    Sorry this is so short, I only had a minute.



    Timers?  Sort of …. Not that I’m any example to follow.  We have them.  I use them for my lessons.  I should make the children use them for theirs as well but I’ve never figured out how to combat their frustration at how little of their assigned lesson is done in set time.  They like completion over efficiency I’m afraid.  Not a really great habit I’m sharing here but I am being honest.  I can not sit with them as they do their lessons.  I check them afterward or weekly in our Friday round up.  Everyone working at their own pace, different types of lessons to look over (some quick checks, some requiring detailed thought on my part) … I just can’t seem to do that as we go through the day.

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