It has been a long, long time since the word “late” has come out of my mouth, and an even longer time since I’ve added it to the words “you’re going to be.” Yet this afternoon I biked with K to her B’nai Mitzvah class (an outdoor session, with masks) and found myself urging her on, the way I used to when we commuted to school. In the end, she was five minutes late; the class had started promptly. Apparently they missed the memo about Jewish Standard Time (15-30 minutes later than local time.)
I’ve been thinking about time all day as I plan our first month of homeschool for this year. I spent this morning up to my ears in curriculum, post-it notes, cue cards, notepads, and a huge roll of easel paper, trying to consolidate all the information in one place so I could make heads or tails of the plan.
“Couldn’t you just type it out?” Mr. December asked when he saw the markers and cards strewn all over the table.
“Nope,” I said as I highlighted a word and then jockeyed some cards into a new configuration, “I don’t know why, but for me there’s nothing like doing it the old-fashioned way.” He looked skeptical, but wisely said nothing.
I was trying to grasp how much of the homeschool work required constant adult presence, as opposed to intermittent check-ins. I used different coloured sharpies to write the name of each subject or task on a cue card: green for “Eema needs to be involved”, purple for Mr. December, orange for independent work, and magenta for family time. With that done, and with multiple cards for tasks that needed to be done multiple times each week, I arranged the cards on a big piece of easel paper and tried to create a somewhat balanced schedule.
But how to organize each day? Mr. December and I weighed the relative merits of more and less structured schedules. In the end I found myself leaning towards a mix of scheduled group activities (grammar lessons, read-aloud time) and something resembling the sacred (to Montessorians) Montessori 3-hour work period, where each child can choose what to do and when. It will, I hope, give the kids some practice in time management and goal-setting.
That might be a long shot, though. Do we all have the same capacity to learn to manage our time and be punctual? Or are some people doomed to a perpetual struggle with the clock? As in so many other areas, I really don’t know whether what we teach the kids will really make a difference in their adult lives. Some things, like personality, are just inborn. Is time awareness another one of those congenital traits?
If it is, my kids might have gotten lucky and inherited the punctuality gene from Mr. December’s side of the family. They’re so punctual that early on in our marriage, my in-laws arrived for dinner while I was still wrapped in a towel post-shower. They were 5 minutes early, which is pretty much par for the course for them. In my family, it’s not unusual to be 15 minutes late. You can understand my surprise, right?
Anyhow, Mr. December’s genes would stand our kids in good stead when it comes to time management. If they got my chronological awareness genes, on the other hand, it’s hopeless. Punctuality may be a virtue, but it’s not one of mine.