Heart-to-Heart with Diane

Hello and Welcome! Isn't raising a family the greatest!? I know I've got the best job in the world, just being Mom! I love sharing things I've discovered that make being "Mom" better, easier or more fulfilling, and that is what this blog is all about. Welcome!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Structure: A Beautiful Word

Structure—such a beautiful word, and such an essential concept! A structure is a framework on which to build. A skeleton is the structure your body's muscle and flesh hang on. A curtain rod is the framework that enables soft draperies to hang at your windows. The frame of your house—whether it is stone, brick, steel beams or wooden 2 x 4's—is what the walls and ceilings and floors are built on. Nobody would argue that structure is not absolutely necessary.

Likewise, structure is essential to a child's day. Homeschooling is a lifestyle in which we enjoy a lot of freedom to choose our activities and learning subjects, but structure is still vital. Consider structure in your home: do you have a good framework for your child's daily activities?

Mealtimes should be the most reliable event in your dally life. There is plenty of research that verifies the fact that family mealtime is critical to a stable family life, good transfer of family values, self-esteem in children, reduced drug use in teenagers, less teenage pregnancy, and more. Pick a time for each meal and let those times become the anchors of your day. All other activities should arrange themselves around mealtimes. It gives the family a chance to come together, to talk, to nourish their bodies, as well as socialize and love each other. If the family can be together at meals, it will really pay off in the long run.

Waking up and going to bed routines are very important. With them in place, children know what to expect. Family life feels reliable. Children are well rested and don't have so many emotional breakdowns. Mom can cope better. Sometimes I see children late at night out in grocery stores, just a-crying and losing it, and it really is no wonder. I listen to the parents scold them, but really it is the parent's fault that they are crying. Children need to go to bed at a regular time and expecting them to behave properly when their bodily reserves are expended, is expecting too much. 8 o'clock is a good bedtime for little children. Older children can go in their rooms and quietly read, but the home needs to quiet down at night. Off with the TV and the music. This can be a real challenge, but it makes a big difference! Any day in which we don't keep our waking up and going to bed routines is termed "vacation" at my house. Staying up late, not having a dependable bedtime, sleeping in, not knowing when the day is going to begin—these can wreck havoc in family life! Plus, sabotage your homeschool.

What is a "waking up" routine? Alarm clocks set (except for Saturday, our sleep-in day). Personal prayer—your first "good morning" to Jesus. (I teach my children to slide out of bed onto their knees in the morning). Scripture study first thing, still in pajamas, and before chores or breakfast. That's our waking up routine. Learning to take responsibility for one's self, contributing to the family's happy function, is a priority in the morning: grooming, chores.

Bedtime routine: Stories or games together, the house settling down and getting quiet, scripture reading, quiet talking alone with each child privately about their day for a few moments. . . these activities end the day and get children ready for sleep.

God's word can take any form you like, but getting it into our children's minds and hearts before they sleep and when they wake has made all the difference in my family. It gives them a stable set of standards and conduct to live by.

Now that structure has established the framework, we have those lovely long hours in between for some creative thinking and freedom! This doesn't mean freedom to do nothing. This means freedom to pursue interests, to choose to use your time wisely. Kids depend on mom to order their day, and as they grow, they learn to govern the use of their time and order their own day.

I think an ideal homeschool day would look something like this:

Wake up
Family Devotional
Chores (while breakfast in being prepared)
School time (3+ hours to enjoy learning!)
Quiet Time (some nap— including Mom, some finish up school work)
Afternoon time: service, outings, activities, play, hobbies, work projects, errands
Bedtime routine
To bed

Never underestimate the power of structure in your home, and in your homeschool. It gives us order, establishes a framework for children to rely on, and frees up time to enjoy life more fully.

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  • At October 2, 2009 at 9:02 AM , Blogger Jessica G said...

    This is a wonderful post. I always stuck to a routine when my kids were babies and as I grew I gave more and more of the responsibility of the routine to them. It's been wonderful and I find it less stressful than those parents that don't have routines. Thanks for sharing. It's encouraging to know there are others out there that love 'structure' too. :)

  • At October 2, 2009 at 4:59 PM , Blogger Tonia said...

    wonderful advice, thank you for taking time to share your wisdom with us!

  • At October 2, 2009 at 5:50 PM , Blogger Sue said...

    This is much easier to do when the children are young. I find that evening activites - no matter how valuable they may be (i.e. 4H, Bible study, sports, scouts) are the biggest detractor to a healthy morning routine. Evening activities make the bedtime routine late, then the kids (and mom) are tired in the morning. Things keep sliding, sliding, sliding as you have more and more older kids at more and more interesting activities. So many homeschool families are running like crazy during the days too - to plays, field trips, stores, co-op classes, etc. etc. etc. It is sooo, sooooooo important to spend adequate time at HOME - imagine that - homeschooling at home. : )

  • At October 3, 2009 at 2:05 PM , Blogger Henke Family said...

    Thank you for this post! I notice a huge difference when our family follows our "structured" routine.
    I am always excited to check your blog and read your wonderful insights! Thank you!

  • At October 8, 2009 at 9:40 AM , Blogger Carolina said...

    Thank you so much for your posts. I'm always reading them. I have been struggling to keep a meal routine. We do seat at the table together but it's never at a the same set time. Many days it's hard to figure out what will be for lunch or dinner. So far I've had all the intentions to put together a montly meal planner. I struggle with organization and I have been asking our Lord to help me in this are of my life. He has given my husband and I two beautiful children and I want to give them my best as a mom. This is my third year homeschooling our six year old daughter and look forward to continue with her and starting with our baby boy. The Lord is faithful and patient. Your post is an answer prayer. Thank you again.


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