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Home Schooling: When Less Is More Part 2

  • JoAnn Dorrepaal Contributing Writer
  • Published Sep 15, 2005
Home Schooling: When Less Is More Part 2

Knowing that today's children are at risk because of over-scheduling, we want to take precautions to avoid falling into a lifestyle that is fast-paced and stressful. Even parents involved in something as child-focused as home schooling are under daily pressure by this world to conform. We must not even allow the good choices other Christian families make to draw us into commitments we don't need or have time for. The "main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing!" That clever saying sums up the first principle of time management for home school scheduling.

In his book "Ordering Your Private World" (1), Gordon MacDonald shares how he guards against over-scheduling each day. He puts in his schedule those things that are considered the "main things" for that day. Once they are in place, he has a certain amount of "free time" into which additional activities can flow. Once the free time blocks are full, he knows he cannot say "yes" to anything additional, no matter how appealing it may be. You as a home school parent must decide what the "main things" are in each day. From my perspective, as a veteran teacher, they are the Bible lesson and the core curriculum that you must cover. You might add to this daily chores that must be done. If you stay committed to covering your "main things" four out of five days a week, when the year is over, you will have accomplished the important things you set as your academic goal for the year. If you give in to the temptation to over indulge in spontaneity, then it is very likely that you will get to the end of the year with a sense of dissatisfaction about whether or not the "main things" were accomplished.

As someone has so wisely said: "The thing about life is that it's so daily!" Planning the core curriculum as the main event each day has an additional benefit. It forces us to develop an overview of our year in advance so that we can take advantage of that which is better over that which is good. When you carefully and prayerfully plan each child's core curriculum, then you will see it as the prize, the treasure to be mined out of the minutes that you are given each day. By doing so, you are modeling a valuable lesson for your children in time management. They will see you saying "no" to something good today, so that you can say "yes" to something even better tomorrow. They will begin to appreciate that Jesus wants to be Lord of their time as well as their other resources. This will help them handle their choices regarding use of leisure time as well.

God ordained a pattern of resting from work one day out of seven. Even within the six days on which we labor, periods of rest should punctuate our work. Jesus lived the ultimate "unhurried" life while here on earth. He took time daily to rest and be in communion with His Father (Mark 1:35). He invited His disciples to do the same by saying "Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest"(Mark 6:31). Here we see that the Father's work was not for Jesus and His disciples to do it all, it was to do the work He had for Him to do on that day. That is why Jesus was able to say in John 17:4 "I have brought you glory on earth by completing the work you gave me to do." He was about to accomplish the "greatest" work of securing our salvation. But He had also done kingdom work on the days he spent with the teachers in the temple when he was only twelve. He performed kingdom work when he did battle with Satan during his forty days in the wilderness. Doing what the Father has for us to do daily: that is our greatest protection against being overly hurried.

Mark 10:13-16 gives us another view of Jesus living the "unhurried" life. Here were some parents doing exactly what you are doing: bringing their children to Jesus! The disciples apparently thought the Master could be making better use of His time than spending it with these "little ones". Jesus disagreed. He was indignant! Out of his mouth came those memorable words: "Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these." And then we read: "He took the children in His arms, put his hands on them and blessed them." Wow! The Lord of all the universe, cuddling and laughing and praying over toddlers! What a picture of our Lord: he finished the work the Father had given him to do, which included having time for his disciples and these "little ones".

This is why every Christian parent must be on their knees seeking God and His way for their children for that day. God created our children and He knows what they need to grow and develop into healthy adults. They need blocks of leisure time as well as the daily discipline of school work, chores and responsibilities. They need the chance to choose an excellent activity over a multitude of good ones. They need to see Mom and Dad developing a prayerful plan and for the most part, following it on a daily basis. Will that allow for occasions when we flex and do something totally spontaneous? Certainly! And when those times come, we can enjoy them all the more because we have the confidence that we are on track with a plan God has given us for the year. With that in place, we can confidently say "no" to the opportunities that detract from what we see as "the main thing". This is truly when "less" is "more"!

[Editor's Note: Did you miss Part 1 of this article? Click Here to read Part 1 ]

JoAnn Dorrepaal is a born-again Christian and a teacher who lives in Norfolk, Virginia with her husband, Mark. During her career, she has worked with students in public schools, Christian schools and has also enjoyed some time teaching her own three children at home. JoAnn is a speaker, writer and advocate for today's Christian women to live the abundant life. You can email JoAnn at

1. MacDonald, "Ordering Your Private World," (Oliver-Nelson Co., Nashville, Tenn., 1984)