Starting Homeschooling and Finding our Rhythm

Our Family Rhythm - An Everyday StoryI’ve always been a list maker, a planner, an organiser. I have more plastic containers than I’d like to admit and all neatly categorised. My husband likes to make fun of me, saying I have the strangest OCD he’s ever seen; meticulously arranged pantry…pile of washing on the floor….children’s art materials all lined up in a row in matching containers…overflowing wardrobe.

He can laugh but I know that I am definitely not a ‘fly by the seat of your pants’ kinda girl. I need to have a predictable, comfortable rhythm to my days.

Now I know you can be spontaneous and still have a family rhythm, but for me, and for Jack too it would seem, we need structure. Jack depends on structure. Sudden changes make him anxious and upset. He finds comfort in knowing what is happening on any given day and what’s coming next.

These last few weeks we have been trying to find our new rhythm, now that we are officially homeschooling, and I think we might have found something which fits.

These are the things which are important to our family and I wanted to make sure we make time for everyday:

  • Playing together
  • Coming together for stories or songs or music
  • Spending time outside
  • Time for rest
  • Time for the children to play by themselves
  • Focussed learning with Jack
  • Time for chores – including time for me to get the housework done
  • Preparing and having meals together

Then these are the things I wanted to make time for every week:

  • Project work
  • Spending time with friends
  • Music class
  • Gymnastics class
  • Spending time with Nanna
  • Own time for me

Our days seem to flow naturally into 6 parts:

  • morning
  • before morning tea
  • after morning tea
  • lunch/rest
  • afternoon
  • evening

Our Family Rhythm - Time to Play - An Everyday StoryThe mornings flow fairly easily, this is when the children play by themselves after their chores while I go through my housework list (yes, I have a daily housework list). We come together after this to share a story or some songs. By this time it is usually time to start preparing morning tea.

Our Family Rhythm - Art activities - An Everyday StoryAfter morning tea is a good time for Jack and Sarah to focus on an activity. This is when we’ll do some project work or an art activity or maybe head out for a class depending on the day. I try to make myself completely available to them during this time.

Our Family Rhythm - Making Lunch - An Everyday StoryThen we prepare lunch together and get ready for a rest. While the kids are resting I spend 15 minutes tidying up and 15 minutes cleaning and the rest of the time is for me.

Our Family Rhythm - Preschool Homeschool - An Everyday StoryJack has quiet time in his room for an hour, sometimes he’ll even drop off and have a little nap. After he has rested, and while Sarah is still sleeping, I find to be the best time for us to work together on some focussed learning.

Our Family Rhythm - Spending time outside - An Everyday StoryWhen both the kids are up, this is my favourite part of the day; we all head outside to play. We go for a bush walk or to the park or just in the yard. Once a week we’ll take a trip somewhere like the botanic gardens. It’s easy, the weather is cooler and the kids have come to rely on this as a way to spend the rest of the day.

Before Daddy comes home from work we come together again for another story or maybe some dancing. We tidy up the playroom and any other mess ready for tomorrow.

Daddy comes home and they are all his until bath time. Before bed Jack writes in his journal and we all read a story together.

It’s simple, nothing too complicated, but it’s predictable and it’s comfortable. The kids can relax knowing what they are doing. This seems to be working for us at the moment.

22 thoughts on “Starting Homeschooling and Finding our Rhythm

  1. I am still trying to find our rhythm with a baby (6 months), it’s hard because she doesn’t have a good schedule down, which means I am always stopping the flow of things with my four year old to care for her (obviously necessary, but frustrating). I have a question about your schedule. What is morning tea? Is it snack or breakfast?

    • It is much harder with a little one. When Sarah was a baby she didn’t have a very predictable rhythm either, Jack was like clockwork but not Sarah. It is frustrating, isn’t it?

      Morning tea is snack 🙂 We usually have morning tea at about 10:00.

      • I agree 🙂 I found it easier to work Jack and myself around Sarah’s rather unpredictable (and rather demanding) schedule than to try and work her into ours. Definitely try to be easy on yourself and go with the flow 🙂

  2. This may sound silly, but reading your post has made me feel much better! I am also a list maker but have not noted down our schedule as such, and just by reading yours, which is very similar to ours, it has made sense of our day. I am now off to write down our daily schedule, purely to keep my orderly mind at ease (and perhaps help daddy out if he has to ‘run’ the day occasionally). Thanks : )

  3. It is so nice to find that rhythm – it does make the days flow quite nicely and without much fuss at transition times. I envy your mornings where the kids play by themselves while you get your chores done. My little one has decided (post-holidays where he had his daddy and me available to him constantly) that he just has to have me play with him all the time. I am getting frustrated that I can’t even get little things done. The only thing that seems to be working at the moment is getting him to help me with everything but sometimes this just isn’t possible. Any suggestions??

    • To be honest it did take a while (probably close to a year) for the kids to be able to play by themselves in the morning for such a stretch of time. I have a little felt board and activity cards which I use as a visual reminder of our day. One of the cards says ‘Jack’s playtime’ with some drawings of him playing. This is when I would clean. I would remind him, ‘Jack this is your playtime. I am cleaning now. When I have finished cleaning I will come and play with you.’ Eventually he understood. This visual reminder has worked really well for us. Maybe something like that might be helpful for your little one.

  4. I love this glimpse into how you manage the flow of your day. I think once my son got used to the idea he would probably bloom under such structure. Unfortunately Organization is not my strong suit and we are often just flying by the seat of our pants. A difficult pregnancy with months of incapacitation due to morning sickness and off again, on again, bed rest hasn’t helped matters. I hope once we get beyond the stage unpredictablity with a newborn we can implement something like this. We will be sending him to preschool this year as soon as he turns 3 in a couple of months because they offer therapies he needs and with the baby I know I won’t be giving him the attention he needs throughout the day. Next year though I hope to begin homeschooling and will seek to implement a regular schedule like you spell out here.

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    • What are you selective about? It’s quite funny, isn’t it? There are things that I can just let go and they don’t really bother me but then other things get under my skin so much that they can actually make me a little cranky if i don’t have it just right haha 😀

      • I feel like we are on our way. Jack is going in leaps and bounds. I went onto our National Curriculum and looked at the learning outcomes for preschool and decided to skip through to Kindergarten instead which is one of the wonderful things about homeschooling. More and more everyday though I think we are becoming unschoolers, well Project-based unschoolers 🙂 I met with the local homeschooling community at their beginning of the year picnic and was thrilled to see so many people there and so many young kids for Jack to play with and maybe become friends with. I am really happy with how it is going so far 🙂

  7. Lovely post. Just reading it sounds so peaceful so I am sure your rhythm helps your children feel safe, secure, and happy. I think most kids thrive on predictable schedules. I love that you have lots of time for free play built into your day. We have a lot of free play at our house too.

    While I am not nearly as organized as you with our belongings and environment, I, too, am rather attached to our daily schedule. I find when it gets thrown off, someone ends up not functioning very well and that person can sometimes be me. =(

    • Thank you for sharing! I love posts about rhythm…so inspirational as we are always making little tweaks to help our days run smoother! Would you mind sharing what time dinner and bedtime are? Do the kids eat before Daddy gets home? I feel like you fit in so much after lunch! Are you outside for several hours? My son is in a morning Montessori toddler program this year and I am currently torn about whether to send him back next year or keep him home! Hearing about someone else’s day with a 3 year old gives me inspiration and confidence that I can do it! 🙂

      • You can do it 🙂 Daddy gets home from work at about 5:30-6:00ish. We all have dinner together just after 6:00pm. We like having dinner together, it’s a nice way for us to come together as a family and talk about our day. I usually plan a week’s worth of dinners so I am a little more prepared each day and save some time. The kids have a bath straight after dinner and then off to bed for stories and journal writing.

        For the afternoon, Jack has usually finished resting by about 1:00. We usually have another hour together before Sarah wakes up so this is when we can work together doing some focused learning (I have some learning goals for him which I got from our National Curriculum foundation – kindergarten – year). Sarah is usually up about 2:00-2:30ish. We usually spend at least 2 hours in the afternoon outside. It’s nice. I like spending the rest of our days outside. 🙂

Thanks for coming by. I do love meeting all of you who follow our days.

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