The first two weeks of school are complete. Only 32 left!! While most students are counting down the days left before they start back to school, the Zbylot kids are counting down how many they have left before next summer. Yes, we start back to school early and we do for a multiple of reasons. One reason is we get out before everyone else in May and can enjoy some of the summer activities before the summer crowds hit. All that said I wanted to give an update about how our 2010-2011 school year has begun and what God is doing within our family.
Each year I fervently pray and put together a family schedule for us. I have done this from the very beginning when we first decided to homeschool. I have used a wonderful book, Mangers of Their Home, that gives examples and a method for setting up a family schedule. Over the years, I review the book during the summer and then tweak it according to our family's needs. This year as I was reading through a different book, the Holy Spirit really burdened my heart about how fast the kids were growing up and how much time I spend with them outside of homeschooling. Let me clarify. I am officially teacher for about six hours every day. Then of course there is the daily chores and cooking and cleaning that has to take place. God wanted me to examine how much time I was truly spending with each of our children just getting to know them for who they were and the uniqueness God has given to each of them. This conviction led to slotting 45 minutes each week for me to spend one-on-one time with each of our children. Scott also has 45 minutes each week with each of the kids as well. My initial goal was to have an hour, but we ended up with 45 minutes. After I get everyone's schedule put together as far as when they do what, I let Scott look over it and offer any changes or additions. Once we had agreed on the schedule we put it into practice the first day of school.
The kids were not too excited about having something to do almost every hour of the day this year, but as they have gotten older their school work takes longer. They also didn't realize that some of that time would be spent with one-on-one time with mom or dad. Our first day of school went well. In fact, everyone seemed to enjoy it. It is always hard to get back into a routine and a new one at that, but the kids did well. Scott had still not gone back to work yet, so having him at home helped a little too.
To my amazement and almost sadness that I haven't done this sooner, the kids most favorite and most looked forward to time of the week is their individual one-on-one time with mom or dad. Throughout the week they will look at the schedule or ask when their mom and me time is going to happen. They plan all week about what they are going to do during their special time alone with me or Scott. Each time I am with one of the kids alone, I get to see the creation God has blessed me with and how much he desires for me to help train them in the way they should go (Proverbs 22:6). Sometimes we play Legos. Sometimes we throw the Frisbee. Other times we cook, play the Wii or just watch a movie. It doesn't matter what we end up doing, it always opens up great conversation that we would not necessarily have had if we had been all together. In fact, according to Nathan, I am getting better at throwing the Frisbee! :)
Our family schedule also has two other special times that I have been encouraged by. We have always wanted our children to have a quiet time in the morning (a time where they just sit and read the word and pray before their day begins.) This year, I put it on the schedule. First thing in the morning, Hannah and Dawson each read from their own devotional book. Since Nathan and Peter need a little help reading and neither Scott nor I are available in the morning to help them with that, Nathan and Peter listen to a chapter read to them from the bible on www.biblegateway.com or from the mp3 player. This has worked really well. After they each finish their quiet time they come and tell me what they read about. This has been another blessing for our family as it has helped all of us begin our day with the right priority and attitude.
Last, our family schedule has a family worship time at the end of the day. This time is set aside right before bed where we gather together and sing worship songs off of www.youtube.com or a worship cd. We discuss what was good about the day and have a time a prayer. We wanted to have a time together as a family where we could just relax and worship God through song and prayer and end the day he gave us. It has been a great way to relax and enjoy one another one last time before going to bed.
I guess I wanted to share all of this because it has been such a blessing to me these last few weeks. It has always been on my heart to spend more time with the kids (outside of schooling), but have never really found a way to make it work. By actually writing it down and putting it on the schedule, God has allowed it to become a reality. I have seen the longing my children have had to spend time with me uninterrupted doing something they are interested in. I am looking forward to the next 32 weeks. It will be fun to see what I get to do with them each week as they come up with new things to do for their mom and me time.
"My goal is to know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, assuming that I will somehow reach the resurrection from among the dead. Not that I have already reached the goal or am already fully mature, but I make ever effort to take hold of it because I also have been taken hold of by Christ Jesus." Philippians 3: 10-12