Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Getting Over the Free-Range Chicken Syndrome (Part II)

In case you missed Part I, here it is.

Here are a few things we have been doing in the past two years in order to address these Mother Hen needs.

First, I scheduled a wake up time. If they were tired in the morning, that only meant they would appreciate their bed time a lot more. After a few days of waking up at the same time, they adjusted nicely.

Second, The Little Way Chore Chart was born! A system built around St. Therese of Lisieux’s Little Way. A chore chart that teaches self-motivated industry, love for others, accountability, diligence and humility at the same time that it teaches them to run a house efficiently. It also teaches them the value of things. They earn tickets to cash in for different rewards either for themselves or to gift to their siblings. They can see immediate repercussions on the family if they miss a chore or do it poorly. They can also see their progress through the week right on the chart. (We’ll add a separate post that goes in to the details of the chart and the files themselves in case you would like a copy of it.) It includes grooming, house chores, prayers, chores which relate directly to other family members, school work, and bonus stars for helping mommy and doing things with a good attitude. It is very simple and they keep track of their own progress. This also develops a sense of honesty and honor.

The third thing I did was create a target daily time-line;
target being the operative word. In home schooling, life happens while you are living it. Because you are not in the car dropping them off here and there, there are lots of opportunities for spills, falls, fights and other non –scheduled events. That is why it is a target and not set in stone. Target Daily Time-line

The target time line allows us to move forward on our day in segments divided by prayers. We start with the rosary at 7:30 am and work our way through the different time blocks of the morning. The afternoon starts with the Angelus at noon and the school day ends with Divine Mercy Chaplet at 3:00ish. Then we move through the late afternoon until we get to the Angelus at 6:00pm which marks the beginning of our evening block. This block ends with prayers of adoration, contrition, thanksgiving and supplication, then a session of good night kisses and the day is done. This target daily time-line gives the children a clear view of what the day looks like. I have one for each day of the week and include extracurricular activities on each day as they are scheduled. Here is what it looks like: )

The fourth and last great change we made was the institution of uniforms for school days. Yep, you read it right, uniforms. This year I decided that the fashion show was highly overrated. I had also not had my laundry epiphany yet so the less laundry I had to do, the happier everyone at home would be. Now, getting dressed in the morning is joyful and efficient. There is no more looking for shoes to match or the other sock that goes with that outfit. No need to change from the dress to the shorts before going out to play. I don’t even care if they get grass stains or paint drips or holes in their pants. These are their uniforms and they were instituted for that purpose. It is carefree attire to be worn all day, no matter what the circumstances and I LOVE IT!
So in short, I have found freedom in structure. I have found peace in schedules. I have found growth in training my will to stick to this new way of home schooling so I can train my children’s wills. I have found that even with all the planning we do and all the scheduling we do, there are those days, sometimes weeks, that are just impossible and everything falls apart. However, I have also found that because I now have a plan, a solid base to go back to, it is a lot easier to get it all back in order and start over.
So the Ortiz Free Range Chicken Home School, is now measured and structured and we have more freedom to do the things we want to do because all the things we have to do have already been done. All with God’s grace, always!!
God bless,


  1. Fantastic! I can't wait to see the chore chart post. Mine are still very little (three 3 and under), but I can always use some more tips as we journey our homeschooling path.

  2. Just happened across your blog and LOVE it!!! I am VERY much looking forward to reading your "Chore Chart" post! And THANK YOU, for taking the time away from your family to share your homeschooling tips and experiences with people like myself.

  3. Cristina, Thank you for sharing with us about this drastic changes in your Domestic Church...I have a reader who e-mailed me with a question and I'm passing it along here:

    "Do you reprint the chart every week?"

    Tell us how you set up the big wall chart weekly or do you have it laminated (what I did).

    I started this chart (with rewards) and adaptations two weeks ago and our lives have dramatically changed! I am so OCD about certain things but all of them in my mind and repeating myself was just annoying! Now I don't even have to ask what needs to be done at what time of the's lovely! And my Management of the system has been diminished as my Assistant Manager (my almost 13 year old son) has taken over checking off the chart and reporting who needs tickets or not! It's lovely! He totally loves the order in the house and even the baby whose napping was all over the place (after getting sick) has now returned to his regular two naps a day...just lovely!!! Thank a million, Cristina!!! You are awesome!!!

  4. Hello Ladies!
    I don't reprint the chart every week. Our chart is set up on a cork board so we use pins to check off our chores. On Sunday I remove all the pins after handing out tickets.

    I reprint the chart when chores change. For example, my 9 year old had already mastered emptying out the dishwasher in the mornings and my 7 year old was ready to do it along with my 4 year old. So I upgraded my 9 year old to loading the dishwasher after every meal, upgraded my 7 year old to dishes and cups and added my 4 year old to unloading the flatware and putting it in the drawer. I will go into more details on the chart on my next post. Thanks for reading and sharing.
    God bless you now and always,