I am a scheduler at heart. I love color coordinated calendars. I love to know what is coming, what is expected and I typically thrive when there is more to do. HOWEVER. I also need downtime, time to reflect and process and freedom within my well planned schedule to breathe, reassess and just let us all be. Which is one of the many reasons I love homeschooling and the freedom it affords each member of our family.
Some new things we incorporated this year:
*Table time for the 3 year old - a lot of great ideas out there, but essentially 45 minutes - 1 hour where the 3 year old plays at a small table quietly with things only brought out during table time, so I can work with the older two on combined subjects (map work, Classical Conversations memory work, presentation preparation, etc.)
*Rotations for the big kids to play with the 3 year old - this worked in 30 minute increments, long enough for me to complete 1-2 teaching subjects with each of the older two kids one-on-one
*An electives only co-op because having a house of highly active boys, and needing a little differentiation in age-appropriate activities I will gladly pay $10-$35/month for science, PE, art and more. It has been a gift to us this winter/spring!
*Morning time! - time together every morning we are at home, which realistically boils down to 2-3 mornings/week where we read scripture, share a devotional, study a character trait, talk through an etiquette lesson, read poetry, and then a chapter or two from our current read aloud. We might cover map work or a few pieces of memory work review during this time. The only time I require them to give me complete attention is during Bible, devotional & character. After that, they are allowed to work on/play with something quietly while I read or we discuss. I try to rotate things in the basket that are available each week just for this time (dot to dot, cars, hand puzzles, jar of shells, etc). I love pambarnhill.com and appreciate all the things, especially her morning time suggestions/plans as well as A Handbook for Morning Time by Cindy Rollins.
Our schedule started off ...super scheduled. Time windows, back to back, and motivation to finish promptly which equated to a few free minutes outside or doing something of their choice. It worked well at first but I felt bound, without freedom to fluctuate between subjects if needed or give the kids a longer break if necessary; this was confusing to them to deviate from the schedule even if we really really needed to deviate from the schedule.
So then what? We adjusted :)
Before you read ahead to what OUR day looks like, this is in no way to try and force your family into our mold nor lead you down a path of comparison. Our "average day at home" is about 2-3 days a week. Full of mini breaks, moments of correction, and getting off track often. Each year when I evaluate our schedule I am constantly searching for ways to improve, whether adding more or taking away or changing it up altogether; that's all this is for. To show another means of "how".
Our average day at home looks a little like this:
7ish - breakfast
8-9ish - all morning chores/responsibilities completed; I read and puzzle with the 3 year old if he's feeling social :)
9ish - Morning Time! **I mean, sometimes morning time didn't start until 10. Sometimes I just needed longer for coffee. Or someone soiled clothes and I had to get a load of wash in, which means I didn't get dressed when I'd hoped. Or let's be honest, some days during this pregnancy I just plopped right back in bed and let the kids play. Be. Free. To wake up, assess the day, and reevaluate what best suits the needs and emotions of all those precious people in your house...including yourself :)
10ish - Snack & some sort of review/presentation topic discussion. Or a few moments for me to switch out laundry, take a bathroom break, check my email.
10:30ish - 3 year old plays on his own or has Table Time. This is a stretch for me because Table Time inevitably means playing with all the things in all the ways that make all the messes. I try to ignore and limit correcting/instructing if it's not a life or death situation. 2nd Grader goes to a quiet place to go through all morning work subjects that do not require my help (includes: LifePac, Handwriting, Math Worksheet, Spelling Worksheet, two pages of Review from his Classical Conversations Cycle 3 note booking pages). I work with Kindergartener on as much as I can get through in half an hour - usually starting with Math.
11ish - Kindergartener needs a BREAK or is sometimes finished for the day so he plays with the 3 year old while I work on 1-2 subjects with the 2nd Grader
11:30ish - everyone is cranky and begging for food so I send them outside or to their room/basement to play basketball while I make lunch
*in an ideal world we are finished with school by lunchtime. Some days this happens..others we all need food and a nap so we tack on some more later in the day.
12:30ish - nap time for the 3 year old! (and all the people said amen) Reading/spelling lesson with kindergartener if not completed earlier while 2nd grader has free time or works on something he didn't finish earlier
1ish - everyone has quiet time for an hour and a half...or longer if needed...
2:30/3ish - Finish up last 2-3 subjects with 2nd grader if it's one of those days, otherwise...freedom!!
The reality is - seasons change. Life with littles is tough! Give yourself grace, give your kids grace and worst case take them all to chick fil a and the library and call it a field trip + life skills lesson while looking for books ;)