As I mentioned a few weeks back, our school days have been less structured than in the recent past (though more structured than other pasts) — as always our seasons are a balance of high and low tides (a term I’ve borrowed for years now from Melissa Wiley).
But throughout it all, I’ve come to realize that we naturally keep a family rhythm established when Wylie and Juniper where very small. This rhythm keeps things moving smoothly for our family throughout each season, creating a necessary structure in what may otherwise appear to be unstructured days.
Some people claim to dislike structure, but I suspect for most people, particularly children, it is comforting. Whether your philosophy is unschooling, structured homeschooling, or traditional schooling, I think most families benefit from having a regular daily routine.
For us it looks something like this:
Morning chores: get dressed, breakfast, feed/water animals, brush teeth, clean up from breakfast.
Work time: From day to day this can (and does) look like anything. I believe a child’s most important work is play, even as they age. So, work time includes any projects/games each child is looking forward to that day, as well as any homework for outside classes. It also includes a list of work I must get done that day for various committees and volunteer roles, garden work, house work, animal chores, cooking, or personal interests (depending on how much help the kids need I may not get to any of it!). If we’re in a high-tide flux then work time also includes writing, math work, nature study, and reading of some sort. We start work time by talking through or listing, some of the work we hope to get done that day.
Lunch: Usually left overs, snacky type foods, or child prepared.
We often use the hour after lunch, or even while we’re eating to finish up any morning work. Then we move onto reading.
Read aloud: we typically have 45 minutes to an hour of family reading from various picture books, and whatever historical fiction or novel we’re working through.
Independent play/work: This is the time when we schedule most playdates, or when we all just chill out and get whatever we want to finished up. Its when I do most of my work for my various committee roles or personal or family projects. The kids work and play independently during this time (mostly :).)
Clean Up: Unless we’re all outside working we try to stop our projects and clean up the house a bit before its time to prepare dinner. The kids each have a short list of chores to accomplish, and I take the time to wash up any dishes and get started on dinner prep.
Of course different days hold playdates, classes, sports practice, and more. Some days we’re outside all day, other days we do more arguing or screen time than reading and project work. Some days we really have to just get some groceries, or just go for a hike. But the overall all routine of our “at home days” remains the same. For me this is key. Too many days spent running about and I start to feel like I’m holding my breath to keep from drowning. For all of us, a day or two at home settling into our familiar rhythm feels like exhaling.