Add Margin to Your Day to Receive New Mercy

A Heart of Dakota Life

Add Margin to Receive New Mercy 

Lamentations 3:22-24: It is of the Lord’s mercies that we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness. The Lord is my portion, saith my soul; therefore will I hope in Him.

Does your homeschool day have margin? If something doesn’t go just right, does your routine or schedule allow for that? Don’t get me wrong, I am a firm believer in having a plan for my homeschooling. Especially once I began homeschooling more than one child, a plan was simply a necessity.  However, my earlier homeschool schedules lacked margin. I found out the hard way, a schedule lacking margin lacks mercy. And if there is one thing we all need, it is mercy!

Add Margin to Receive New Mercy When Something Unexpected Happens

Have you ever spilled an entire cup of coffee all over your Heart of Dakota guide? Or have you ever had a contractor stop by with about a million questions about how you want to renovate your bathroom? Has your husband ever called for a model number he needs off your broken dishwasher? Have you ever had a child throw up in the middle of your homeschool day? Life is full of unexpected surprises – every day. In fact, it is the rarer thing to have a day with no surprises at all. By adding margin to your homeschool routine or schedule, you are planning for the unexpected. So when the unexpected happens, you are ready!  You have the margin to receive mercy in the event of an unexpected surprise.

Add Margin to Receive New Mercy When Correcting School Work

Do you have time planned to correct your children’s school work? When you look at Carrie’s suggested time allotments for each box of plans, do you add time to correct work? Even “I” independent boxes of plans require our attention as homeschool moms. By adding margin for correcting school work by making it a part of your overall plan for your day, you avoid having a pile up of correcting. So when your children finish their work, you are ready! You have the margin to receive mercy in the task of correcting your children’s work.

Add Margin to Receive New Mercy When You Have Appointments, Activities, or Errands

Do you have margin planned in your week for doctor appointments? How about margin for activities you plan to attend? Or how about margin for something you didn’t plan to attend but now want to? By adding margin for appointments, errands, and activities, you avoid getting behind in your schooling. So when your child has a cavity to be filled, your sister calls you for a play date with her kids, or you have to get groceries because there is nothing for dinner, you are ready!  You have the margin to receive mercy in the time it takes for appointments, errands, and activities.

So how do you plan for margin, so you can receive new mercy each day?

To plan margin when something unexpected happens, I add some cushion of time. So, for example, I might have my ‘teacher-directed’ block of time include ‘semi-independent’ work too. That way, I have extra time to walk away and deal with the unexpected. To plan margin when correcting school work, I add extra time throughout the day. By starting my teaching time by quickly correcting what’s already been completed, I plan margin for correcting. To plan margin for appointments, I set aside one afternoon each week. So, every Wed. afternoon, I know that is the day I will make appointments. Likewise, I plan for Saturdays to be my errand day. Every other Tuesday, I plan to have our children get together with my sister’s children. Finally, I plan for at least 2-3 weeks off each year for anything unplanned! Try planning for margin to receive new mercies this school year!  I think you may like it!

In Christ,
Julie

To use time is a duty

A Charlotte Mason Moment: 

“It is a bad thing to think that time is our own to do what we like with. We are all employed; we all have duties, and a certain share of our time must be given to those duties. It is astonishing how much time there is in a day, and how many things we can get in if we have a mind. It is also astonishing how a day, a week, or a year may slip through our fingers, and nothing done. We say we have done no harm, that we have not meant to do wrong. We have simply let ourselves drift. Boys or girls will drift through life at school, men or women through life in the world, effecting nothing, because they have not taken hold. They fail in examinations, in their professions, in the duty of providing for a family, in the duty of serving their town or their country, not because they are without brains, nor because they are vicious, but because they do not see that to use time is a duty.”

(Home Education by Charlotte M. Mason Vol. 4, Book 1, p. 173)

Try a mid-morning checkpoint for your older students

Teaching Tip

Try a mid-morning checkpoint for your older students.

Do you have any students in the guides from Creation to Christ on up?  If so, it is very helpful to schedule a 30-45 min. mid-morning checkpoint to meet individually with your student.

What do you do during the mid-morning meeting?

During this mid-morning meeting, I go over any work that the student has completed.  We fix and correct the work as we go over it.  I ask any questions noted in the corresponding boxes in the guide. I also have my student read aloud any written narrations or give any oral narrations scheduled for that day.  After we go over each completed box, I check it off in the guide and read aloud the key idea.

How do you close the mid-morning meeting?

At the end of the meeting, I do one of the ‘T’ boxes (such as Biblical worldview, composer study, art appreciation, devotional Bible study, composition, grammar, poetry, etc.) These ‘T’ box titles vary from guide to guide. For high school students, I go over ‘S’ boxes instead, as often there are not many ‘T’ boxes.  I end the meeting by quickly pointing out the unchecked boxes that are left to complete.  I clarify and give any guidance on those boxes, so my student understands what is left to be done.

What is the purpose of having checkpoints? 

The mid-morning checkpoint helps keep me on top of my student’s day.  It helps ensure my child does not fall far behind.  Later, while my boys are eating lunch, I check any work completed since the mid-morning checkpoint.  The checkpoint after lunch shows me whether my child has completed all needed work.  It also points out whether I need to briefly meet with my student after lunch to make additional corrections.  Then, I can have the child put any checked worked and corresponding materials away.

Try a mid-morning checkpoint with your student. 

If you don’t have checkpoints in your day for your older students, you may want to consider adding these in to your day!  Try it and see what you think!

Blessings,
Carrie

Should Charlotte Mason narrations immediately follow the readings?

Dear Carrie,

In our house, some time passes between reading and actually writing a narration in Heart of Dakota. Often my kids refer back to their readings. I understand that Charlotte Mason stressed the importance of their being only a SINGLE reading. So, here are my questions!  Does the written and/or oral narration need to follow the reading immediately? I am also wondering, can they refer back to the book?

Sincerely,

“Mom to 4 Precious Blessings”

Dear “Mom to 4 Precious Blessings,”

You asked some great questions, and I will be glad to answer them! Your first question is…

Does the written and/or oral narration need to follow the reading immediately, or does the time not matter?

The answer to this question really depends on the age of the children.  When kiddos are younger, it is advisable to have the oral and/or written narration immediately follow the reading. This helps them remember what they have read better. As kiddos get older, there can definitely be time between the reading and the narrating. In fact, Charlotte Mason advised spreading out the reading from the narrating more the older the kiddos get.  This is actually the more difficult skill, and it is  intended to be taught once students have had practice orally narrating.  Your second question is…

Can students refer back to the readings in the book as they are writing their narrations? 

This is another good question!  Due to the amount of names and dates in many of our readings, and the length of the readings, looking back at the reading while writing a written narration is helpful and advisable. Referring back to the reading helps so much with spelling and accuracy too! This is actually one of our spelling tips in our written narration skills checklist.  So, it is definitely alright for kiddos to use their living book as a reference for help in writing with proper spelling. Looking back at a reading reference-style wise is different than doing a second reading. Even though kiddos are referring back, it is still a single reading they are narrating from.  You’ve asked some excellent questions!  I hope this helps as you continue your journey with Heart of Dakota and Charlotte Mason!

Blessings,

Carrie

P.S. To find out more about Charlotte Mason and written narrations as a form of assessment, click here!

P.S.S. To find out more about training your kiddos in Charlotte Mason skills, click here!