The Duggar Family on Homeschool Organization

Are you a homeschool parent struggling with getting everything done each day? You're not alone. Most homeschooling families need an organized schedule to help them keep it all together. Take for instance, the Duggar family from Springdale, Arkansas. With 19 children, this Christian homeschool dad and mom have plenty of wisdom and practical experience that might give you ideas to improve your homeschooling routine. Although the first to say she's still learning herself, Michelle Duggar openly shares valuable insights she's learned along the way in an exclusive interview with Alpha Omega Publications. Find our questions and her answers below:

Q: How many hours of formal education do your children typically receive each day?

A: We spend approximately four hours a day in formal schooling in core subjects with additional music lessons.

Q: With such a large family, what time management secrets have you incorporated into your daily routine to manage the household workload?

A: We've adopted the biblical Titus 2 organizational principles of older children teaching the younger. Working within an assigned buddy system, each of our older children assists in helping with the needs of a younger sibling. Plus chores are assigned and posted on a master schedule on the wall so they all know what to do and work together to complete their assigned "jurisdictions."

Q: What is your daily homeschooling schedule like, and what method do you use to track what each child is supposed to be doing?

A:  Our day begins at 8:00 a.m. with personal hygiene, breakfast, family devotions, and a "quick clean" of the house. The younger children begin their individual lessons in phonics, math, violin, and piano with the assistance of their "buddy." In teaching their siblings, I find that the older children have learned so much more themselves. When they're done, the older children then start their individual studies in math, English, spelling, and typing. One of the older girls begins preparing lunch at 11:30, and we break at 12:00. Everyone helps cleanup, and then individual studies are finished. The babies go down for naps at 1:30 p.m. and then I and the older children study science, history, law, or medicine around the table from 2:00 to 4:00 p.m. As we study the same topic together, we use a "bus stop" approach. The younger children participate with age-appropriate activities but are released to go play as we go more in depth into the subject matter with the older children. During this time, we also memorize Scripture, learn hymns, and study godly character qualities. From 4:00 to 5:00 p.m. we break from our group study and complete individual studies or enjoy "free time."  Dinner is at 5:00 p.m., and everyone again helps cleanup afterward.  After another "quick clean" of the house, each child finishes music lessons or schoolwork. Snack time is 8:00 p.m., and then it's time to get ready for bed with baths and picking out clothes for the next day. Bible time with Daddy is at 9:00 p.m. and bedtime is at 10:00 p.m. Individual checklists which cover schoolwork, chores, music lessons, and personal hygiene let us see at a glance how each child is doing and keep our children accountable so we can reward them accordingly.

Q: What techniques do you use to handle discipline problems and keep your homeschooling on track each day?

A: The Duggar House Guidelines:
  1. Always use soft words, even when you don't feel well.
  2. Always display kind actions, even if you have been mistreated.
  3. Show joyful attitudes even when no one is looking.
  4. Have sincere motives with no thought of self-gain.
  5. Think pure thoughts.
  6. Always give a good report of others. Never talebear unless physical harm will come to someone. Use Matthew 18.
  7. Never raise a hand to hit.
  8. Never raise a foot to kick.
  9. Never raise an object to throw.
  10. Never raise a voice to yell.
  11. Never raise an eye to scowl.
  12. Use one toy/activity at a time.
  13. Never let the sun go down on your wrath. (Don't go to bed angry or guilty.)
  14. Amendment J.O.Y. Make serving your family a priority. Put Jesus first, Others second, and yourself last.
Q: How do you incorporate time for each individual child and his interests as well as make time for yourself?

A: To give each child one-on-one time, I take one with me each time I need to run an errand. As soon as we walk out the door, I start to ask how they are doing, what they're thinking, feeling, and so on. We believe in doing things together as a family, so we don't run to different activities for each child. We enjoy music, play baseball with friends, and do other outside activities together as a family. Since I'm a night owl, I get my alone time with the Lord when everyone else is asleep, in the "night watches" (Psalms 119:148).

Q: Where do you homeschool, and how do you organize your homeschooling supplies, educational toys, and each child's daily schoolwork?

A: We have a schoolroom/playroom with lockers and storage bins for each child. Plus computer stations are set up throughout the house for individual learning study with the children who use the Switched-On Schoolhouse curriculum from Alpha Omega Publications.

Q: How has Switched-On Schoolhouse benefited your family's homeschooling?

A:  The information and instructions are presented so well in Switched-On Schoolhouse (SOS) that the older children can work independently and rarely need help or have questions. That frees up more of my time and makes teaching math easier now, too. Plus the lectures and mini-tutorials provide clear and concise explanations of the concepts being covered. The children really enjoy SOS and look forward to doing part of their studies each day on the computer. My daughter Jessa has taken on the responsibility of administering and assigning the SOS lessons each day. Her siblings say that she is tougher than Mom when reassigning lessons that haven't been completed properly.

Q: What's the most important organizational advice you would give to a first-time homeschooling parent?

A:  Don't overextend, and go easy on yourself. When I first homeschooled, I tried to set up a conventional classroom but soon realized that wasn't going to work. Not everything is going to go as planned, and you're going to keep learning a better way to do things as time goes on. Most of all, have fun and just enjoy the gift of your children and the process of learning together.

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Comments(8 comments)

TAMARA L 06/07/2012 11:22:27

Thank you so much. This was extremely helpful.

Mom of 8

MICHAEL B 06/07/2012 13:00:05

Thank you so much!! I love the Duggar Family. I will save this information and use it often.It is so easy to get discouraged and depressed, but Michelle Duggar is such an encouragement and example to follow in many ways. Thanks LORA

ATUNJ S 06/07/2012 18:34:33

Atunji S.

Sharing a day in the Duggar's Family home school was a pleasure and very supporting of the environment that we are working to create daily in our home school experience..

MEGHAN A 06/07/2012 18:46:41

You are an inspiration! On the days I feel like I can't handle my 4 (#5 on the way) I think, "If Michelle can do it with 19, surely I can do it with four!" my biggest challenge right now is that my children are still pretty young, with the oldest being eight.

DESTINY P 06/07/2012 20:18:14

Wonderful information. Thank you so much!

TARA F 06/07/2012 21:23:40

I really appreciate the list of 'rules' - and believe that the Lord is using Michelle Duggar to help me learn to always endeavour to talk 'sweet' - no matter what. Having just had our sixth baby - and juggling all the ages - from teen, tween, school age and preschoolers - I can really appreciate the many ideas and experiential wisdom in this interview. Thank you AOP for making the happen - thank you Michelle for sharing and giving all these great ideas. Especially the 'older helping the younger' - whenever we have had these moments, it is precious and also it does 'cement' older lessons into the 'teacher's' mind. They can glean so much from that - just as I do while we learn science etc. A very balanced approach!

ROBYN A 06/07/2012 23:07:51

Thank you so much, I have been really down on myself trying to set up a classroom and upset if it does not work as planned.

MIRIAM T 06/08/2012 08:57:32

I really enjoyed Michelle's encouraging words. I homeschool a senior, freshman and a 3rd grader. I love the lifepacs and the sos curriculum. I love not having to go to servral different resources to plan our studies.

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