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the rhythm of our day

I’m not really a schedule kind of girl. I’m more of a “Hey, it’s morning. I wonder what we should do today?” kind of girl. But that doesn’t work so well with six children and homeschooling.

Years ago I read a book written by a homeschool mom that was about scheduling your day in 30 minute increments. I spent days making a beautiful color coded schedule to hang on our  wall so everyone could see what we were supposed to be doing at what time. The problem was that I turned into a drill sergeant. We were all miserable.

On the left is our daily routine just in case someone doesn’t know what he should
be doing. On the right is our family calendar , if it it not written on this calendar,
it doesn’t exist. The children have gotten good about writing things that are
important to them on the calendar.

What I’ve learned is that for me and my family a routine or rhythm works best. So I looked at the routines we already had and used those as the foundation of our day. For instance, we all eat lunch together, so lunch – whether it is at 11am or 1pm -is an anchor in our day. The same with breakfast and dinner.

{Before Breakfast}
Everyone is responsible for taking care of things that only they can do for themselves. Each person is supposed to wake up, make bed, tidy room, brush teeth and hair, get dressed, personal Bible reading, etc. Before breakfast is also the time for feeding the dog and chickens.

Our together time starts about 9am most days. During this time we do Bible reading and will do Rip the Page creative writing. After this Josiah will go do his independent work and the rest of us will do Mystery of History (3 days a week) and Christian Kids Explore Chemistry (2 days a week). On Thursdays we have co-op in the morning and on Fridays my guys mow so our together time will be when they get home and get cleaned up.

After our together time the rest of the children begin their independent work such as math, grammar, handwriting, reading, typing, music, co-op homework. I let each one decide the order each day as long as it all gets done. During this time I’m available to answer questions but I don’t actually sit and teach any of these subjects to my children. Some are on the computer and the others are pretty easy to understand. Most of the children do their work in their bedrooms, but I do have one (and  it’s not Esther) that I have to keep at the kitchen table to help him not get distracted.

When a child needs a break he will usually choose to play with Esther for 15-20 minutes. Which is pretty cool. I’m in the process of putting together a “fun box” for her to have during this time of activities she can do with minimal supervision.

Working on a little art in the afternoon

At some point near noon we’ll eat lunch. This is earlier on Tuesdays since the older children have Drama.
We usually have bean burritos or sandwiches for lunch. It kind of boring, I know, but it’s simple and filling.

After lunch Esther goes down for a nap (after reading books) and the other children finish any work that wasn’t finished in the morning. Then they can have free time to do pretty much whatever they want for a while. On Mondays I try to do some baking at this time  On Tuesdays the older children have Drama and I will probably do the hands on part of Chemistry with Benjamin during this time. On Wednesdays we get ready for co-op. On Thursdays we will go to the library and grocery shopping since we’re already in town. Fridays will be free for whatever – ideally some sewing and other crafts will happen during this time.

About 4pm I have everyone stop what they are doing and take about 5-10 minutes to work on their assigned room. Everyone but Esther has a common room that they are responsible for keeping clean and tidy. This room has to be done before any evening activities can be done. We’ve tried a ton of different ways of dividing up the work and this seems to work the best for us right now.

Christian and Josiah cutting a sheet to make cloaks for the Renaissance Fair.

This has been the biggest struggle for me since the boys have gotten older. For years, we ate dinner together every evening. We still do eat dinner together each evening….but not everyone is home each evening. Two evenings a week some of the older children are gone and are not here for dinner. So my choice is to either wait for everyone and eat at 8:30pm or eat earlier and then let them reheat their dinner.

After dinner we usually spend the time together either out in the garden or playing a game. There’s a show that the children like to watch on Tuesday evening… and it isn’t educational (gasp). Friday night is our most favorite night of the week… it’s pizza and movie night.

All during the day, when the children have finished something that needs to be graded or checked they put it in the grading bucket and in the evening I check all the work for the day. I only keep grades for my high schoolers. I also write notes on their work, such as “Show me your corrected work”  or “Why do you think this is so? Let’s talk.” or “Good job, Love Mom.” There is no way I will remember any of this the next day so these are the reminders.

This doesn’t always work perfectly, but we have enough wiggle room to allow for things that you really can’t schedule, like cleaning up a half gallon of spilt milk, or finding a cool snake in the garden and doing an internet search to find out what kind it is.

What about you, how do you organize your day? or do you?

This post is linked to Works for Me Wednesday, Not Back to School Blog Hop and Hip Homeschool Hop.

Thanks for sharing with your friends!

Holly (Your Gardening Friend)

Saturday 15th of February 2014

It sounds like you have the perfect amount of structure and wiggle room for creativity.

I especially love that Bible reading is a part of every day and done early.

Angi Schneider

Saturday 15th of February 2014

Thanks, Holly. The Bible reading really does get our day off to a great start.


Sunday 4th of September 2011

Ellen: The grading bucket has been a lifesaver. When I've graded something, I return it to their bucket or put it in their room depending on the child. So if the item is still in the bucket in the morning they know it hasn't been graded and they have permission to "bug" me so that they can do that days lesson. I'm glad you liked the post, I also like seeing how others run their homeschools. There is always such creative ideas out there.


Saturday 3rd of September 2011

Back again. I know which drill sergeant book you're referring to - it was frustrating so I gave my copy away. Thanks so much for this post. It's nice to see how another homeschooler breaks down their day, especially with older kids.


Saturday 3rd of September 2011

I like your grading bucket. I find that is one area that I fall behind. I like how you leave little notes for them so they can fix things themselves. I think I'll borrow this idea!


Thursday 25th of August 2011

Shannon: Probably the best I advice I can give, is try an idea and if it doesn't work for you or your family (and you'll know pretty quick)try something else.

Eddie: The 10 minute tidy is a life saver. My husband doesn't need a super clean house, but I do like for him to be able to walk through when he gets home without tripping over all of our "projects."