In my absence, Firefly and I have had some conversation. She brings up a good question about the pace of high school.
We have become somewhat behind in our lessons and are having to try to get things caught up before the summer. I only have the two girls but with one in high school, finishing certain subjects on time has become a more pressing issue. I wish it weren't so. She wants to go to college, though, and I worry about her transcript being acceptable. I miss the more carefree days when the girls were in the early years. Maybe you can share your insight into these things when you return to blogging.
I, too, miss those golden days when we could follow the delight-driven bunny trails that beckoned of the beaten track of our studies. You know, making cookie dough sea-floor relief maps or sewing chitons and playing Hector and Andromache while reading the Illiad or laying out 17th-century style herb knot gardens or building your own computer or playing Abraham's version of Cribbage...
Still, beneath that seemingly endless stroll through all the wonders of God's works, there was always the determination that those delights should drive more learning. They were never merely time-wasters. So at some level, we were already aware of a terminus. We knew the endless character of those early days was an illusion.
In high school, that terminus looms large. So one of the most critical and least-recognized skills we need to give our children before they launch out is professional-level time-management. Without good time-management skills, our children will forever be at the mercy of other people's timetables. As I tell my son these days, "If you don't schedule your own time, someone else will." It is one of the most important habits of truly free men (and women).
Certainly, the drudge-work of meeting the deadlines necessary for a high school transcript figures into this. But there can be a high level of delight in time-management as well. Our children need to learn more than how to follow a schedule or punch a clock. They need to establish routines for life that allow them to breathe, to worship, to celebrate and to protect the time that nurtures relationships. They need to learn to imitate God's use of time in order to create and to rule.
Far and away the best time-management curriculum I've found is Gregg Harris's Noble Planner Time Management audio series (now available as an MP3 download or on CD), and it's companion, Seasons of Life. This series will help you to train your children to escape the tyranny of the urgent in order to preserve both joy and productivity by studying biblical models for time-management and productive people of the past. They walk your family through the process of setting goals appropriate to your seasons of life and translating those goals into manageable daily plans.
The next resource I'd recommend, which is specific to setting goals in high school with an eye to preparing for the next phase of life, is my own Countdown to College. The new second edition with expanded instructions for college and scholarship application, more examples, an FAQ section, and a new section on one-stop resume building programs, is now available at my online store and on the HSLDA Marketplace. I now have a companion CD that allows you to create professional-looking academic records on your own computer, and to search for scholarships using the disk's dozens of live links to scholarship websites and search engines.
Now there is a certain level of delight for young people in learning to use the tools of adulthood: daytimers, PDAs, Microsoft Outlook, etc. And there is certainly a level of delight for homeschool moms when we begin to see our children taking up ownership of their own deadlines, because we do understand that their ability to do this is a huge predictor of their future success and effectiveness.
At the same time, we want to be able to have time to reflect and to celebrate. I have been doing a good deal of research on the ancient Church calendar as a means of ordering my awareness of and enjoyment of God's goodness. It is a fantastic way to turn the rat-race into a dance of delight!
But that's a topic for another day...