I love to plan. I love to create schedules. I love fantasizing about how they will improve our lives. I just don’t love implementing them. Reality never seems to match my fantasy. So when I began planning the spring semester in our home I made a change from my typical way of making a schedule.
“Start with the end in mind.”
To me, the end was my making my fantasy reality. I start with my fantasy what I think we should accomplish in our school year, then I build schedules and lesson plans to fit that fantasy. This time I started with reality and built a routine around that reality.Maybe that sounds like cheating. I mean, couldn’t that look like us watching TV all day long? That is so contrary to my understanding of what the purpose of a schedule is. I have always viewed schedules as what I needed to live up to, or a tool to help me live up to an expectation. However, that just didn’t work no matter how many times I applied that logic or how many times I made really cool schedules. I know it works for bus schedules. It just didn’t work for our homeschool.
“Don’t put off until tomorrow what you can do today.”
I can’t put off school every day. School is a priority for us. As Steven Covey puts it, this activity is something that is important, but not urgent. I want to spend time the bulk of my time in this category. During our first semester we put off school a lot. We had good reason which I will blog about sometime soon, but when we started this semester I knew I needed to get back on track. So the question that entered my mind was, “How can I provide structure to our reality so that we can make regular and reasonable progress?”Reality is that I have children who don’t always meet my expectations. They can’t always process the amount of information that I want them to process. They don’t always behave as I expect them to behave. I also have a life that doesn’t always fall perfectly into my fantasy would. Sometimes there is illness, friends in need, emergencies, or overflowing toilets. There’s some reality for you.
This reality has to be taken into consideration when planning our days. Instead of specific items, I block out times and have a variety of items we may address. The main thing is that it gives me the next step in our day. It keeps me focused on what needs to be addressed next so that I don’t drop the ball. It’s not so ridged that if we drop one of our routine items that it messes us up for the rest of the year, but it is not so liberal that we never accomplish anything.
“It takes 6 weeks to form a habit.”
We are now past the 6 week mark using what I hope will remain our 2014 Routing.
Disclaimer: I’ve written this as an hourly schedule, but I apply it as routine, promise. If we don’t start until 10:00, we shift everything out and I make adjustments where needed. Don’t let the time hacks trick you into believing I am anal in anyway about applying this rigidly. It’s now 9:27am and we haven’t started school yet. Two are still in bed even though I told them to get up at 8:30.
Sometime before 8:00 My quiet time. I get up anywhere from 5:30 to 7 and do anything from personal Bible study, working on my responsibilities at our homeschool co-op, or catch up with social media. I hate waking up to an alarm and often wake up long before my husband who gets up between 7 and 8. He works from home so he doesn’t have a commute like other husbands. Lucky guy. I like to start a pot of coffee and maybe get some breakfast too.8:00 Rise and Shine. I wake the kids, but they are responsible for getting dressed and getting their own breakfast unless it’s one of those mornings I feel motivated to make breakfast for everyone. The rule is that they cannot watch TV or play any kind of video game until school is done, so as soon as they are dressed and have eaten we start school. I do have to remind them of this rule frequently. They try very hard to forget and I often am not paying close attention. I’ve considered a lock and once I get motivated to set it up, I’ll be great.
9:00 - 11:00 Group lessons Bible, History, and Science. I try to do some Bible lesson, but I am inconsistent about this. This could consist of a 365 day devotional we are using or I might share with them my reading from my read the Bible in a year plan. After this, my too youngest and I start with Story of the World and then Zoology, which we do together. My oldest is independent for the most part and so she starts her lesson plan where she likes. She likes to listen to Story of the World and the Zoology reading so she usually does something that is lighter in nature or just stops while we read. I love that she still thinks what the younger kids are doing is interesting.
11:00 – 12:00 Math and Language Arts. We start with Math. Some days they fly through their lesson, some days it takes longer. If they get done quickly, they move on to their language arts assignments.
12:00 Lunch. Sometime in the noon hour my husband comes up from work after a meeting and asks for something to eat for lunch. This is my queue that I’ve waited too long to make a plan. The girls usually make lunch while I do some kitchen clean up although this has shifted back to me since we stared this new routine. I find I’m anxious for them to finish early so I would rather make lunch so they can get to a good stopping point. We’ll usually take a whole hour for lunch. The kids enjoy eating in the living room while playing a video game or watching TV. I eat at my computer. We could take this opportunity to eat together, but we just don’t.
1:00 - 3:00 Wrap up. I call school back to order and everyone fishes up what they have left. During this time they usually are finishing up independent work so I can do other things. They also work on any other supplemental or extracurricular course. If I see we aren’t going to be done by 3:00 I will jump in and go full force with helping them finish whatever they have left.
3:00 Chores, Errands, or Activities. If we are home I choose the areas in the house that need the most attention. I am looking for a good chore system. Some days we have band practice, music lessons, meetings, it just varies.
5:00 - 9:00 Dinner or Activities. After 5:00 our nights look different almost every night of the week.
9:00 Bedtime for the kids. My husband puts the kids to bed. Once he is done we usually watch TV, but I like to also spend time reading, writing, or researching if I’m not too tired.
There’s always room for improvement. It is my hope that we could be done by 1 or 2 each week so that we could spend the afternoon doing things outside of the house like visiting friends, but that just isn’t happening for us right now. That would also require our friends to be done. HA! Getting the kids up earlier is not an option. They need their sleep. They have been getting quicker at getting homework done. By consistently apply this routine every day they are starting to understand that I mean business. They love their free time so it has motivated them to stop wasting so much time.
The other area in our daily routine that needs to be addressed is meal times. Much more planning needs to take place. I’ve read a thousand blogs and books on how to meal plan, I just now need to take the time to apply what I have learned. UGH.
I also wish that I wasn’t so tired by 8:00pm. By the time bedtime comes around I am ready to collapse in a heap. I might make it through a half hour of TV, but then I’m out. Forget about anything productive. There are so many personal pursuits I have that I am finding it hard to make time for. But in my pursuit to acknowledge reality, one does need to sleep. Right now homeschooling is the priority for the bulk of my day. Maybe when these kids are out of here I’ll have time for things like learning how to plan new instruments.