We said a sad goodbye to the grandparents (and to the RV) this morning and tried to fall back into our routine.
Routine. Schedule. Structure.
Words we associate with well-adjusted children and healthy parenting. I tend to agree that for the most part, some sort of schedule provides the framework for a productive day. And what about the argument that “Kids need structure?” I think that on a large scale, this is mostly true. My girls need the predictability and reliability of our home. But kids also desperately need unstructured time to explore and play and create. This doesn’t mean it can’t be part of the schedule, or a word I like better, rhythm.
We don’t have time slots dedicated to specific subjects. But I have realized that we do have a rhythm. It looks something like this:
- Quiet - We eat breakfast and read together
- Conversation – We talk about what our day should look like, what subjects we are interested in, and what we would like to do that day
- Exploration - Science experiments, art projects, documentaries, field trips, outdoor discovery, etc.
- Play - Unstructured play time, either outside or inside. Sometimes together, sometimes alone, and sometimes with their “kid pack“
- Quiet – At the end of the day I usually ask them to go read quietly again. I need this time, mostly.
This isn’t a hard and fast schedule. But is a rhythm. When I described it to Josh he quoted William Blake:
Think in the morning. Act in the noon. Eat in the evening. Sleep in the night.
Even in its fluidity our rhythm is somewhat consistent with its ebbs and flows. And if it’s good enough for William Blake, it’s good enough for me.
We are still finding out what works and what doesn’t. I am giving myself patience with finding our rhythm. We are not even 20 days in. It’s OK to not be perfect. I remind myself of this when I start to doubt our choices, but it is still hard sometimes when the rest of the world measures success by tests, grades, and milestones.
Last year we were so over-scheduled and school was a point of anxiety for Sera. This year we are spending much of the time “deschooling” and I’m measuring our success by how peaceful our home is and how much joy we find in learning.
Back to our day. Back to our rhythm. I asked the girls what sort of things they wants to focus on this month.
- History: Civil War (still)
- Literature: Little Men
- Science: Chemistry
- Math: Multiplication and Time
- History: Medieval history (to build upon what she learns at Tutorial)
- Literature: A Wrinkle In Time
- Science: Meerkats
- Math: Multiplication review
Of course, the girls naturally become interested in what the other one is learning, so we wind up covering a lot more per subject than just what they choose.
We made lists of the kinds of books we wanted for October, and After we said our goodbyes, we headed to McKay Bookstore to see if they had anything good. McKay is another amazing homeschool resource. It is a used bookstore and they issue store credit for used books. And it is GIANT.
We always find books–no matter if they are on our list or not. Today we picked up Little Men, a Medieval History book, and a few other books for fun.
At home I had the girls help unpack from packing. Unpacking from camping is 10,000 times worse than regular unpacking, and regular unpacking is pretty unpleasant. There were leaves everywhere. I wanted to get the house in ship-shape right away to be able to start our school week, so we spent a lot of time cleaning and recovering.
After the house was clean–and by clean, I mean we weren’t tripping over camping gear or wearing clothes that wreaked of campfire–I suggested that the girls pick something from one of the subjects they had chosen to learn about in October. Sera studied Meerkats and Amelie watched Kahn Academy videos about telling time.
After I sit down and journal at the end of the school day, I am always amazed at what we learned even though it may not have felt like much. Today we planned for October, took a field trip to McKay, and studied science and math. Keeping a journal is essential while homeschooling–not only because it serves as a legal record of what was done, but because it also proves to me how much we are learning all the time.