As I've been planning for our first quarter of our first school year, I've been thinking a lot about how I order my days. How will "doing school" fit into our days? How will my routines change? I realized that while I'm not a terribly organized person, and my days don't always go smoothly, I already have found an approach that works for me. For some people, a detailed schedule works. For me, a flexible routine works better.
What is the difference between a schedule and a routine?
A schedule has a time for everything and everything in its time. Breakfast is 7:30, Cleanup is at 8:00, School starts at 8:30...and so it goes on through the day.
A routine has a certain order to do things in, but no specific time. However, often a routine can be anchored on happenings that occur at approximately the same time every day, such as meals and bedtimes. Before breakfast, we make the beds, get dressed, and start the laundry. After breakfast, we do the dishes and start school. The events of the day happen in flexible periods of time, instead of specific times.
While I love the idea of a schedule, my perfectionism would cause it to be extremely frustrating for me if I did not accomplish what my schedule set out. It would make me feel like a failure every day when things would happen to throw off the schedule. And since I have three boys aged five and under, flexibility is essential.
So my school days will continue in the same routine as before, but with a few short lessons added to the time period after breakfast and before lunch. I also plan to post our routine on the wall, where my children can see it and know what comes next.
For SA and JJ, their morning routine will look something like this:
Before Breakfast: Get dressed and brush teeth by themselves (This is new to our routine. I will be teaching them this habit to try to make my days go smoother. Natural consequence: we don't sit down to breakfast until everyone is dressed and ready for the day.)
Devotions using Leading Little Ones to God (already part of our routine)
10-15 minute Read Aloud Time (already part of our routine, but I will be adding some new books to our rotation)
Play outside while Mama does the dishes and starts the laundry (already more or less part of our routine)
Come in for a short (10 minute) math lesson (new to our routine)
Play inside or outside while Mama advances the laundry and sweeps the floor(already part of our routine)
Short (10 minute) reading lesson (new to our routine)
10-minute writing lesson (new to our routine)
Pick up toys (Regrettably, this is new to our routine. But we will remedy that!)
Routine is all about having a flow to your day without locking you into specific times for everything. There's no worry if the kids play for 10 minutes, or if they really get into it and play for an hour. (Remember, my oldest is only five. I feel that this time for free play is still very important.) The object will be to gently introduce new elements into their normal, everyday life. (I say "they", because I know my 3-year-old will also be getting into everything my 5-year-old does.)