The other S word

Socialization is the s-word homeschoolers are tired of talking about.

Scheduling is the s-word homeschoolers say little about.

It's not hip or cool to admit it, but I like planning and scheduling. Just like putting everything in its place, I like putting everything in its time. I like waking up in the morning and knowing how to begin that specific day, I like being prepared, and I like ending the day feeling like I appreciated every hour of it.  To have days like that, I need to spend time scheduling.

I often work on schedules over coffee while the kids are in activities.
This is at an El Salvadorian place I love.
Great coffee, great prices, deliciously slow service.

There is plenty of encouragement in the homeschooling community, in my personal experience, to fill the days with socializing. I don't know why, but it seems like people cheer each other on to be relaxed, but don't cheer each other on to be organized. But as I go through my days with my family, I see that when we're better organized, we relax better.

Among Charlotte Mason homeschoolers, I do see talk online and encouragement about scheduling, but I don't know many CM homeschoolers in real life. Most people are quiet about their academic and housework plans, perhaps because they don't have plans or perhaps because they think it's a boring topic. I also think the scheduling topic may be taboo out of fear of criticism.

A mini serene scene in a crowded deli.
My schedule brings me serenity in this crowded city.

I questioned my scheduling self a few years ago, and I tried a free-form approach for awhile.

The result was we ran out of clean underwear a lot because we weren't home long enough to get a load of laundry done regularly. I felt guilty looking at the piles of great books and projects we neglected in pursuit of being free from schoolwork schedules. I forgot to do essential things and then spent too much time rushing to catch up.

I idled for unscheduled hours on park benches while the kids socialized with other homeschoolers. Then I went home and was tempted to serve cold cereal for dinner or order take-out because the uncharted day exhausted me.

The coffee-cup exhibit in the Flat Iron Building looks like how my un-scheduled life felt.

The unscheduled approach was touted to be spontaneous and free, but I found it tedious, sloppy, and not that much fun. With an un-scheduled life, I felt far more over-scheduled and tired than when I had a set plan.

Different people thrive under different conditions (thank goodness for that diversity) and I really did not thrive by randomly stuffing activities into our days as they came up, and, under my care, my family didn't thrive either. I know the journey is more important than the destination, but we weren't journeying through our days. We were spinning our wheels, spin, spin, spin.

The funny thing is, I'm more excited about spontaneous changes when I have a plan than when I don't have a plan. And when a disaster suddenly occurs, I feel stronger about handling it, knowing I will return to a routine after the crisis.

Colored pencils with the time on my schedule to use them....heaven.

I should say that my husband is a life-long un-scheduler, and I love him for it. He's Mr. Spontaneous and I'm Mrs. Scheduler, and we've learned to work together and marvel at how the other works. One approach to life is not better than the other, and some of us are happy with a schedule.

I like to schedule. There, I said the s-word.


  1. Oh, I'm with you. And, as you know, Mason's schools had very tight schedules that allowed for an amazing amount of learning in a short time - so that everyone enjoyed the free time all afternoon much more. Kind of like you just said. But I'm not judging anyone...

    Ring true,

  2. Oh yes, yes...a scheduler here too!

    Echoing Nancy: One of my favorite things about CM is that order does exist and is needed to accomplish such a rich education but at the same time it gives you that very much valued time for masterly inactivity and such. : )

  3. Sigh... I love scheduling. I do it quite well... it's follow through and getting others to go along where I falter. :)
    Have a happy new year- I'm going to spend mine scheduling and planning ;)

  4. Great post. I enjoy scheduling and interiorizing the schedule, and I also like the freedom to do things in different order or, as you say, make modifications on the plans.


  5. Followed a link to this post from Sage Parnassus.

    Loved your post! I've done both ends of the planning spectrum. I tend to do better with some structure, and so does my family. The happy medium for us is to have a plan, but always be ready for Plan B!

    Happy New Year!

  6. Ah, I love to schedule. And to live with a plan. I don't function very well flying by the seat of my pants.

  7. Wait. I thought my husband was Mr. Spontaneous and I Mrs. Scheduler...

    yep. My husband just this afternoon randomly offered me a "homeschool planning day" tomorrow! oh my goodness... so exciting.

    :) I've already been sneaking in planning moments here and there, but tomorrow I hope I'll be able to get the whole term planned!

    When I take the time to figure out the basics, print, plan, organize, it frees me up to be more spontaneous as time goes on.

    And you know I'll be posting about it soon ;)

    amy in peru

  8. We've gone to both extremes--very scheduled to unschooling, and definitely prefer the middle ground! We need some sort of structure to our day, or we all end up feeling grumpy and as if we accomplished nothing. One of the main things that draws me to a CM style of education is the idea that lessons can be short, engaging, and in depth all at the same time.

  9. Good post...I like scheduling too (-: and especially over coffee!

  10. You have a new look, too! Love it!


  11. Thank you to everyone for commenting and sharing some words about scheduling. Here's to the start of a great new year! (I think I need to come up with a blogging any tips?)

  12. We tend to do much better with structure. At the end of the day we can look back and see things that we have accomplished & feel good about ourselves that the day wasn't a hopeless case. We don't have a tight schedule, but a few things jotted down that needs to be accomplished to push us in that direction.