Monday, June 6, 2016

A homeschool routine that nourishes

In my last post, I shared about the ideas and philosophies I have been studying and working to incorporate into our family's journey.  This includes our homeschooling, but is really about our life rhythm, and applies far beyond what some would call "school."  My goal was a merging of ideas that would help me reorient our daily life so that it gave priority to the things we value as a family and established a more restful pace.


poetry tea time

The routine I have established has worked beautifully for over 4 months now.  The most convincing proof is how we felt approaching our usual June break.  Most years, I'm dragging us all through the last few weeks of May, and often we just give up and quit somewhere near the end.  This year, however, we have had such a nice rhythm and adequate periods of rest (see Sabbath schooling) that we were able to finish strong.  Don't get me wrong - we will still take the month of June off, and the kids and I are all definitely looking forward to that.  But we're not dying, crawling through these last few days devoid of joy or enthusiasm.  That, folks, I call a win.



Details! I had to majorly move things around to find a daily rhythm that works for us in this season.  Charlotte, who is 4, sleeps quite late, well past nine if I let her, but the older two children are usually up about 2 hours earlier.  So they have time to move through their morning chores and get a bit of independent work (a math lesson and some memory work) done first thing.  They are motivated to do this because then we get to head outside around 9:15-9:30.  My son in particular needs to move his body early in the day or he starts driving every one around him a little nutty.  His father is *ahem* the same way.  We either go for a walk, ride bikes, or stop at the nearby park for a short time.  We have been able to accomplish this about 4 days a week, even managing a walk in the torrential downpours we were blessed with this spring.  Sometimes we meet with other friends during this time.  This has helped my bouncing-off-the-walls-and-me-and-everything-else son to stop picking on his sisters so much. So good!

Snapshot of our routine, with a column for each child and me.

When we return home, we grab a snack and start our morning time.  (I’ve noticed that some people call their Morning Time Morning Symposium, which sounds quite lovely and sophisticated and I plan to put it to a vote before my people in the near future.)  Whatever you call it, I’ve talked about our morning time before here and the content is largely still the same.  This really is an anchor that has held since I was able to hook it in about eighteen months ago.  It helps me ensure I'm creating that atmosphere of restful learning I desire for my home.  Putting it early-ish in the day works for me right now because it happens before I wear out and my students' focus starts to slip.  It's where we learn hymns and poems, study art, read biographies and fascinating history stories, occasionally diagram a sentence, and have great conversations when it works (which of course is only sometimes).

If all goes reasonably well, by lunch time we have cared for our bodies (outside activity), taken time to worship (morning time), cultivated awareness and engagement with beauty (outside activity and morning time), cultivated excellent habits (chores, math, grammar, memory work, and physical care), enjoyed each other in conversation about interesting people and ideas (morning time), and enriched our minds (math, morning time).  Any of this sound familiar??  We are able to touch on a big chunk of our core family values by lunch time!

      
Two other things I have added are Independent Project Time and Learning Meetings, both of which happen in the afternoon.  I may have made those terms up, I can't really remember.  I did use this post from Simple Homeschool for inspiration.  Independent Project Time is just designated time for the kids to pursue their own interests, and also to finish up any work left over from the morning.  I made a big list to guide them as we began, and included things like research, creative writing, foreign language practice, Kahn Academy, typing practice, piano (Hoffman Academy), certain crafts, etc.  Charlotte considers herself just like the other kids, so she has a list too, which includes things like playdough, stencils, building toys, tangrams, etc, but she can also just play.  The kids love being in charge of part of their learning, and I love that they have the opportunity to practice cultivating their minds and savoring ideas on their own.

And finally, the other new part of our schedule is our Learning Meetings.  These rotate with the Independent Project Time and allow me to have a one on one meeting with each kid.  This fills a major need that I had been struggling to meet - getting quality alone time with each child.  I keep it light-hearted and cozy, but also use it to work on skills the child might need individual attention on or is excited about and needs guidance.  For example, this is where I work with Charlotte (preschool) on her reading and handwriting skills; Ava (third-ish grade) on her creative writing and English grammar in preparation for Classical Conversations Essentials next year; Wyatt (first-ish grade) on his reverse engineering or researching other topics he’s interested in.  This has also been the part of the schedule hardest to hold to because I tend to get distracted after lunch and also. . .I am tired in the afternoon! 


Adding in the sections I described above means many things don't fit any more.  You'll notice too that in my schedule graphic, there are blank spaces for margin.  Oh how I want to fill those spaces!!  Despite how well this routine has worked for us, I have to be very careful to guard my thoughts because I so easily fall into the trap of trying to push more into the schedule than time allows.  It's also hard because our activities do not fit nicely into boxes called "subjects."  Every homeschooler (maybe every parent?) fights an ongoing battle against the questions Am I doing enough? and Is my child behind?  When another mother asks these questions around me, I always quip, “enough for what?  Behind whom???”  But I confess to not handling the questions as confidently for myself and my own students.  I have to work at it.  It's worth the effort, though, when the result is a restful rhythm that allows us to enjoy each other and life as we move through our learning goals.  Most days. *grin*

In a coming post, I will talk about a few more things we have prioritized that help us continue "school" while staying in line with the values Mr. Cyrus and I have settled on, including our parent-child book club and poetry tea time.


Other posts in this series:





2 comments:

  1. I'm dreaming of trying out your beautiful schedule. As you know I have been admiring it for awhile. ;)
    I think I will have to add in one element at a time. I did just recently start the sabbath schooling schedule and am enjoying it as is Calvin. I bet if I printed out a schedule and posted it for the family to see I would be more likely to stick to it more regularly.
    I will keep you posted. :D

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, one piece at a time! That's how I did it, and the first piece in was the "outside time" in the morning, which was inspired by you! :) I agree posting would be a help. . .

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