I'm so blessed to have so many great homeschooling friends living right in my neighborhood! I asked my friend Jennifer to talk about how she uses timers in her homeschool because I was genuinely curious. I often feel like we do NOTHING all day, but when I used to have a timer I would turn it on and off when we'd do our formal learning stuff and saw that it really did add up during the day. Here's what she had to say about timers:
"[My kids] use them all the time, for everything from showers to school work to cleaning their rooms. I bought 2 $5 digital timers from Walmart. The reason I bought them was because we do have a set curriculum through [my daugher's] Virtual Prep School (which I LOVE by the way... they use Calvert curriculum, we get books and computers and education specialists with no cost out of pocket!)
My kids started out very strong, even getting ahead in their work. On days where they're motivated, they can finish a full day by lunch time (starting by 8:30 or 9). They got distracted though. I love doing other things that are not the school curriculum. Crafting, adventures, anything they can think of to do. But they were getting sidetracked by their outside interests. I'm not the kind of mom who stands over them and teaches them. I trust that they'll do it and ask questions if they need me. I think they're going to be better prepared for college than many of their peers because they're already self-teaching.
Any way, now I'm distracted... lol... I got them the timers, said here, set this for 30 minutes when you start your work and see if you can beat the clock. It helps them immensely to know a time when they're going to be done with a subject. They also use the stop watch option sometimes for mad minutes type work. They love to race through and see how many they get right and in what amount of time.
I cheat too and use them for cleaning their rooms. We'll do 10 minute tidy time (ever seen Big Comfy Couch?). Set the timer for 10 minutes and see how much you can get done in that time frame. It's a game too. We keep resetting for 10 after a mom inspection, until they finish. "Cleaning in 10's" is more appealing than, ok kids, today we're going to clean our room. I think even though they can tell time, the timer helps them with narrowing down their work load into things they think they can accomplish on a speed clean.
They also have a speed shower competition. They use their stop watch function so we can time their showers. [My daughter] is the current champ!
I think as far as homeschooling vs. unschooling goes... it's a tool they want to use. I suggested it, they begged me to buy it. They own them, they use them. I never set them or monitor them. That's their job. I think time management isn't a bad unschooling subject, whatever the task at hand.
So, there you go, our timers in a nutshell.