Creating a Schedule

          Is any day typical for this age? When all my children were little, my world revolved around them, as I’m sure yours does. Every day held its surprises and keeping a schedule was a real achievement. Basically, I squeezed in school whenever I had the time. I am the type of person that needs to have order in my home before I can really sit and focus. However, other moms may choose to do school first and worry about housekeeping later. It’s really a matter of personal preference. My schedule may look different than yours though most of us are balancing similar tasks--basic housekeeping, bathing and caring for children, meal preparation and clean-up, paperwork, children’s activities, and exercise. You may have more or less activities to balance than I have mentioned.

          When you are planning for school, every minute counts. Organization is key. Over the years, I fine-tuned my own system. Here are a few things I learned.

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Firm Time Activites

          Decide on activities that must happen at the same time each day. These are your Firm Time Activities. These activities may include wake-up time, meals, baby naptime, outside time (playground, walk), afternoon rest time, and bedtime. These activities must remain as routine as possible each day. On your schedule, mark all these as Firm Time Activities. Now you have the scaffolding for your schedule.

          Now, let’s figure out all that you need to do between those firmly timed activities. List similar activities in blocks.

Daily Tasks that
Must be Completed

(but Timing is Flexible)

          Blocks of time needed for: housekeeping (making beds and tidying rooms, bathrooms, laundry, meal prep, kitchen clean-up); school; reading/quiet time for everyone (paperwork time for Mom); Mom’s exercise and shower time.

          Make your own list and put your tasks in groups. You will need to find time between the Firm Time Activities to get all this completed.

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Kids Playing with Chalk

Completing the Schedule

          The trick is keeping children happily and productively engaged (and not creating a huge mess) while you complete all your tasks; the next trick is finding activities to keep them engaged.

Activities to Keep

Children Engaged

          Here is a list of activities that happened at certain times during the day to keep my children engaged while I took care of my list of tasks.

         Playtime: Choose just a few collections of toys to be played with each day. If they can only play with certain toys on certain days, they don’t become bored with them. Also, by limiting the number of toys available, you have less of a mess at the end of the day! Here’s an example:

          Monday: Duplos and puppets

          Tuesday: Trains and Action Figures

          Wednesday: Blocks and puzzles

                Etc.

Kid's Playing Outdoor
Image by Tanaphong Toochinda

Educational Movies

          We loved our PBS shows: Arthur, Mr. Rogers, Clifford, and Curious George. Carefully sought out, you can find incredible educational series that will keep the children engaged. However, maintain a time limit. For us, it was about 1-1/2 hours per day, broken up. I tried to give up the shows completely, however, those days drove me crazy and left me exhausted and cranky. I needed the TV time to pull the house and meals together. So, choose your children’s shows wisely and use the time productively!

Quiet Time

          Books and puzzles are a wonderful habit! There’s nothing wrong with blanket or couch time. Everyone finds their quiet spot and no one leaves for one hour, except to use the bathroom. Mentally, it gives the children a healthy break from the constant sibling interaction and noise of the day.

Child Doing Art Activity
Image by MI PHAM

Now that the

Children are Happy

          NOW, while your children are engaged, you can get something done. Plan carefully, so when your quiet time starts, you are prepared to complete the necessary work. When you choose to homeschool, you have chosen to live a richly rewarding, but highly disciplined, lifestyle.

          Some days will be a total loss, but most days will be happily productive. If things are not going smoothly, it’s time to re-inventory. Maybe you are trying to do too much; maybe some homeschooling needs to happen when Dad is home. Take a look and tweak the schedule. Where there’s a will, there’s a way.

         When it is time to put your schedule to the test, know that it will not go perfectly. However, a basic outline is great! I used to be so frustrated when people would stop by to visit because I would lose hold of the whole situation, but you can always pull it back together again if you have a plan. Your schedule will probably not look like mine, and once you know what time blocks you need and what your firm times are, you can make a schedule and adjust as you go.

Routine is Empowering

         Routine is healthy! I found that my children were happiest (and possibly empowered) when they knew exactly what was happening and in what order. I would let them know the day before if the schedule was going to be different. The schedule created stability in our home. Everyone knew what was going to happen next and what was expected.

Happy Children

Sample Family Schedule

          This is the basic schedule I followed with my little ones when I still had kids under the age of six. I had two sets of twins right in a row, so lots of little babies to take care of!

It’s easier to have the children complete their workbooks and independent work early in the day. I found that my children required more attention as the day wore on, but when they were fresh and rested, they concentrated better. This is all dependent on nap time, which is prime time for completing school activities with your school-aged children. You may then choose to have them complete their independent work when the baby is awake.

You don’t have to do every subject every day. Doing a subject twice a week is fine. If you try to do too much, everyone is going to despise schooltime. Your child’s prospects for attending Harvard are not lessened if you miss a few days of math. You want them to love learning, so go with the flow. Do the best you can and relax.

We have happy memories of everyone piling onto my bed for bedtime reading. I loved it. A chance to put my legs up and just enjoy being a mom. The day was over and everyone was clean and relaxed.

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