Topic | Time Boxes or Time Tables

This topic contains 10 replies, has 7 voices, and was last updated by  vikingkirken 4 years, 3 months ago.

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  • Benita

    I like the idea of time boxes. I tend to stress myself a little looking at the clock and panicking when we are not on time for each subject switch. Of course you know that I then pass that on to my kids which can lead to stressful school times.

    However, without assigned times I am afraid my older ones won’t get everything done in a day that they need to do. They tend to procrastinate subjects they don’t love and drag things out too long. Long bathroom breaks, long and frequent snack breaks, etc.. I was constantly nagging them – not very CM, I know!! So this past year my sweet hubby assigned times for them to complete each task. If it was not done in the allotted time, they moved on to the next thing and had to come back at the end of the day and finish any assignments not complete in that time frame. It did help motivate them. And I did not nag them at all.

    I work better with time boxes I think. But my older ones may only be able to get it done with time tables. Wondering how those who use time boxed get it all done with out dilly-dally dragging and nagging?!


    OH, I so need to hear some ideas, too!

    Along with this, how about some wisdom on how to handle the one child who needs a bathroom break – during the history reading.  And while that one’s up, another one decides to check on something.  And then while those two are out, another one whines or needs something.  Then number one child comes back….and then I need to holler for number two to come back.  By that time, number four is gone…..And there I sit, waiting for them all to come back so I can continue reading or move to the next subject.




    We use work boxes.  I actually just found out that was what it was called.  I always called it a “flow to our day with benchmarks” instead of a schedule.  I thought I made it up. Wink 

    First benchmark – School starts by 9:00 at the latest.  If you start early, you will probably finish early.  It didn’t take long for my girls to figure that one out.  The oldest usually chose to start early, the middle chose to read another book until 9:00.  Before 9:00 they need to have their morning chores done (varies by child but may include: brush teeth and hair, make bed, eat, read Bible, unload dishwasher, do litter).

    {Next year we will start by 8:30 because 9:00 ended up being too late.}

    They have a planner with their assignments.  Some say “with mom” and they are responsible to find a time to work with me.  {Next year I think I need to assign a specific time because they usually sought me out when I was in the middle of something else.}  DD11 and DD13 work assignments until 10:00.  I encourage them to do math first since it takes the longest but it is their decision.  I work with DD6 during this time.  At 10:00 (second benchmark) we meet at the table for family subjects and a snack.  We may have to wait a few minutes for someone to use the bathroom but once you are at the table, you stay at the table.

    After family subjects they work on assignments again until lunch (third benchmark).  I encourage them by praising them when they’ve finished something (and not “rah-rah” praise, but a genuine comment on their diligence, or quality of work, etc).  I don’t micro-manage them or remind them to work.  I really, really, really want them to learn to manage their own time.  This is so important if they go to college or are in the workplace or, most importantly, if they are a mom.  They know that when the assignments are finished then they are done with school.  If they dawdle, then the consequence will be less free time in the afternoon. 

    After lunch my DD6 has a rest time and the other two finish assignments as needed. 

    A couple notes:

    -Communication is important.  If they are taking too long, ask them why they think that is.  Are you assigning too much work?  Are they working in an area that distracts them (in front of a window with birds :-)?  Are they being lazy?  Are they waiting for you to remind them  to work?  Do they think if they wait long enough you will delete some of their assignments?

    -Put the responsibility on them to get their work done.  DO NOT NAG! Smile  Nagging takes the responsibility back from them.  I know, I know, it is hard. 

    -If needed, set an end time for school.  All unfinished work should be done after supper as homework.

    -Focus on the habit that they need to accomplish their work.   Diligence, attention, …

    Hope that helps.  We’ve always done school this way so it is kind of second nature.  I hope I explained it accurately.





    Sounds like a dream. I have the same problem Karen has. Sometimes, someone has to use the bathroom and it all falls apart while they are gone. 

    Also, I have a problem with fatigue; so my kids aren’t learning timliness or as much responsibility as I’d like. I mean, sometimes I just can’t, you know. So I think they don’t have an example of “I can” or “I will”. Now, even though the fatigue isn’t my fault or choosing, the example there is still me not getting things done or getting up early enough frequently.

    How do I make them see that they have to even if I can’t?

    Plus, my husband is an airline pilot that usually works reserve; so we never know when he’s going to have to work or not and his sleep is never consistent. All their grandparents are retired, the uncles that live in town are out of work, etc. So they don’t even know anyone who has a consistent lifestyle. They can’t see the importance of it I think. My 14 yr old is starting to see, but is struggling mightily with making it happen because of it all.

    I would love love love consistency. My husband says that even if we start at 10:00 every day that would be consistent, but I’m talking about people not even getting dressed in the morning until I tell them to. We’ve tried so many times to say, “Ok, this is it, you have to be ready. . . It’s just what people do. ” But we always slip back, and I don’t have the mental energy to ensure it. Also, if I start the day with a disciplinary action because people aren’t ready, it all blows up–we’re too emotional here.

    So as not to hijack the whole thread–I do agree that time boxes are better. We started this year already and it was with a tight schedule. We’ve never done that before, and it caused a lot of stress. I prefer to say we’re going to do these things before lunch and these things after, and we just do them in whatever order we feel works best that day.



    That is helpful. We have done something somewhat similar. I like the idea of doing a little independent work and coming back together for family work around 10. That gives a benchmark as you say and a reason for them to try to have a couple of things done before that meeting time. I was doing it right after breakfast.

    To add to what you have said, I like them having assignment sheets so I am not telling them what to do. Whether it is a Organizer printout or your own spreadsheet(which is what we have done), they know what is expected. We also instituted finishing leftover work later in the day. That helped. I needed school to be done by a certain time.

    We were starting at 9, but also thinking of backing up to 8:30. We have eaten breakfast at 8:30 during which time we do Scripture Memory and then slide into SCM Module family work for that day. I think maybe then I will have them do independent for a bit and then come back together for the fine arts component of the day around 10ish and then back to guided or independent work.

    I do the post office and banking run for my husband’s business every morning and he likes me to do it early but not too early as the post office usually doesn’t have our box filled before 9:30. So I have to schedule a time in the morning for about 25 minutes where they are all independent and I can run that errand.

    Wondering how others are sure to work in free time, computer or project/handiwork time and time outside. I want them to go out after lunch for about 30 minutes. My youngest goes out during the morning work for about 30 minutes as well. I really want even the oldest ones done by 2:30 so they can have a break before we come back together for tea and literature at 3:30 or in case of errands and the orthodontist(our second home these days!).



    I’m so sorry you are struggling.  ((Hugs))  Don’t envy my day.  I didn’t mean to make it sound so easy.  We have our struggles…Wink  While your kids may need to lean consistancy, mine need to learn flexiblity.  And so do I!

    One of the pieces of wisdom from Laying Down the Rails that I’ve gained is to pick one habit and work on that.  I tend to bite off more than I can chew. 


    I like the idea of tea and literature at 3:30.  I usually eat lunch first and read while they are eating.  But, I like having that “benchmark” at the end of the school day, instead. 


    I like Jenny’s method, too.  I’ve tried to organize our day like that — family together, apart (or with me), family together, apart (or with me).  My other problem is my husband! Not really!! But he works from home.  So, he comes in and “interrupts” – he needs me to do something or it’s meal time (it varies from day to day.)

    I know for sure that some of our problem is not starting early enough.  My husband is in around 8:30 for breakfast.  Sometimes the girls are up, sometimes not.  But if I could discipline MYSELF enough to get them up and have them do even one thing independently, that would be a big help.

    Sometimes I feel like it takes ALL DAY to do school – because we stop for snack (and read aloud/rest time) and then stop for dinner and then take a moment to switch laundry and then… all adds up!  


    These are some great ideas here. But when do you fit in chores and laundry? I try to work them in throughout the day but then it makes our school go later than I want it to and we rarely have time for handicrafts like I would like to. My dd9 has a schedule for his work and he is consistent but the rest of our day is not.


    Yes, Wings2fly — because I snatch “moments” to do laundry or quick do some meal prep, if the girls aren’t working independtly, they run off.  Or they run out of independent work and then they run off while waiting for me.  And then school drags on forever!!!! 

    I’ve often wondered if my husband went away to work, would I somehow get all the school work done before 3? And then I’d do laundry and have them do chores also after 3?

    I think I need to get the Laying Down the Rails thing you all talk about and learn it myself!!!


    I use a chart with TENTATIVE time blocks, but I don’t believe it’s necessary to rush through the day, push through a lesson, or make certain everything is completed IF dawdling and disobedience are under control. I don’t use extra school work as punishment. To me, that risks having the children decide that learning is punishment and is to be avoided…that graduation means freedom from study and learning.

    Where SCM’s planning tools resurrected the organization of our study resources, A Mother’s Rule of Life, by Holly Pierlot revamped our home organization years ago. It brought life back to my days as a wife and mother. I found a way to get to most things in a reasonable time frame and learned to delegate much of the household duties to the children. We have specific breaks in our routine that allow for chores. They may be daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, or yearly. I don’t fret about daily, weekly, or even monthly chores being behind. I get them caught up as soon as they come around again without fear of total chaos returning to our home. This took a while and required extreme diligence on my part. It was Habit training for me more than for the children. I will tell you that it was mentally, emotionally, physically, and even spiritually exhausting at times. Overcoming bad habits is hard work.

    The payoff is huge!!!!! It is worth it to nip dawdling in the bud. You do that by demonstrating it through your own actions. This was hard for me. It still is hard, but the alternative is miserable. From time to time, I get off track. But, I have a written “Rule” to go back to when I recognize that this has happened. It points me straight to the starting point. It’s a “start where you are with what you have” type rescue and recovery plan.

    I hope it might help some of you. It is written by a Catholic author, so some of the suggestions will not apply to many of you, but the vast majority of the book is a true blessing to anyone looking to restore peace and order to their days. The plan it helped me to find for our family will not be the same it helps another mother design. Just as the SCM planning resources and CMO or paper version will not look the same for each of us, a daily routine for famies of various sizes, ages, and needs will be different.

    Here’s a couple of nice blogs from Where the Blacktop Ends and Childlight USAa that speak to the idea of hurrying. They may not specifically address the question of time use, but they stood out to me as an important reminder that things being done slowly should not be a cause for fear. (slowly with diligence is different than slowed down by bathroom breaks and disappearing acts.) ;0)

    May God bless our use of time that we may use it for His glory,




    I also deal with fatigue issues–and if I do try to “push through” anyway (hahaha), I get cluster headaches and quite literally want to shoot myself.  So I’ve learned not to push myself too hard.  While I am definitely still figuring all this out (going into third year homeschooling), things are STARTING to work for me.  This year, I’ll have a 2nd grader, K-er, 3yo, and 1yo.  Our schedule for this fall is based on a WHOLE lot of adjusting over the past months.

    We do six 7-week terms spread out through the year, with 4-day weeks.  This allows a day off for errands, holidays (like a child’s birthday!), or a sick day.  That day can shift from week to week to accommodate whatever it needs to.  I only do basic straightening up, laundry, and cooking during terms.  ANY deep cleaning gets done between terms, or by loving family members if they’re feeling generous  😛  Oh, and we count VBS and weekend field trips with Daddy as school days, so we’re hitting the standard attendance numbers!

    School runs from 9-11:30; that includes a little flex time each day for rest and/or nursing breaks.  We do Bible reading and verse memorization over breakfast; living books for history and science over lunch; and chapter book readings over afternoon snack.  Laundry gets moved before each meal (I need the mental association to remember to do it!)

    Quiet time is 2-3:30; the littles and I either lay down or actually nap–this is crucial for me!!  If I know I have a rest period coming in the afternoon, I am more able to keep going in the morning.  The bigs do some independent reading and are then free to have screen time til snack.

    After quiet time is snack, then I have a 1/2 hour of chores.   Then after chores, by which time I’m exhausted, I sit down, watch cooking shows, and fold laundry while the kids play outside… which leaves me reasonably rested for the evening with the family.

    One HUGE HUGE thing for me has been doing habit training with my kids.  We definitely don’t have it all down where I’d like it, but the kids do know some basics.  Dd7 empties and loads the dishwasher… the kids help clear the table after meals… the biggest two put away their own clothes (not neatly, but as long as they make it IN the drawers I’m happy!)… the kids know how to use the microwave to make oatmeal or heat up leftovers.  I’m trying to work on a few things consistently at a time, til they are well-learned, before moving on to new training.

    Oh, and I make quiche, hardboiled eggs, scotch eggs, etc ahead whenever I have a good day with energy… that way I don’t have to get up early and cook to have a decent breakfast.  And we use our crockpot a lot!

    And if I’m totally whipped and flat on my back, we either do school in bed, or they attend the School of Netflix and watch National Geographic and How It’s Made all day 😀

    Sorry that was way longer than planned!  I hope it helps some!


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