When I first began homeschooling many years ago, I heard an elderly educator give her “One Third Plan” for how to plan a child’s day. I was intrigued!
Once I took my children out of public school into homeschooling, I really wondered what I was supposed to be doing with them all day long. I wanted with all my heart to raise them right and to teach them what they would need to be happy, faithful, upright people who benefited the world in which they lived. I couldn’t keep them busy in homeschool from dawn to dusk, but I didn’t want them free playing all the time either. I thought long and hard about it, so when I heard the “One Third Plan”, I was all ears!
According to this dear speaker, a child’s “workday” (aside from grooming, eating, sleeping, devotional), was to be divided into 3 parts:
This was homeschool—reading, studying, learning, experiments, writing, doing projects, practicing music, and other mind-developing pursuits. This can be the most fun part of the day. When my boys were young, they always begged to do home school instead of outside work on a hot day!
Another 1/3 of a child’s day was to be spent doing for others: helping those in need, doing chores for the family, working in the garden (to sustain the family and share with others), serving neighbors, friends, and community. This is the hallmark of a true Christian, and it is essential children learn to serve others while they are young. Talk about who needs help at the dinner table, brainstorm what to do, and then engage them in your efforts to do for others, and they will learn at your side.
The last 1/3 of the child’s “workday” is to be devoted to developing his own little business, and working for his own money. We spend our adult lives daily dealing with money, and meeting our needs through working, producing and purchasing. Learning to work and learning money handling skills as a child is vital. When a child can see the fruits of his own labor and knows the freedom of spending his money as he wishes (even wasting it and learning the hard way), a whole new dimension of accountability and confidence settles over his personality and there is tremendous growth!
My children have had a host of little businesses, from selling eggs, to growing pumpkins, making jewelry, running clubs, and teaching classes or lessons. They have done simple assembly work, house-sitting, taking care of pets and more. They have also babysat and weeded and had other hourly jobs, teaching them the necessity of discovering what you love to do, rather than trading your time for something you find dreary. Hourly jobs also taught them that education was going to make a big difference in their future lifestyle as an adult.
Late afternoons, when the workday is done, there is time for friends and free time. Evenings when Daddy comes home—it is time to eat dinner together, visit with each other, read aloud, play games, crochet, listen to music together, draw, build legos, and enjoy relaxing.
The culture we live in is one in which kids are seriously over-entertained, and isolated from conversation with family members. Pop in a DVD. Play X-Box. Listen to your i-pod. Text your friends on your cell phone. While I haven’t always followed it, I have often thought of the “One Third Plan” over my years of raising children. It wouldn’t hurt American children, even a little bit!
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