Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Our Daily & Weekly Rhythm (Or, how we keep our sanity)

If you follow along on this blog, you’ll know that a couple of weeks ago, we were dying for more routine in our lives. We finished up our homeschooling year at the beginning of April, had friends come visit, went to Kyoto (Japan), had a two-week break before my sister came to visit in May, took lots of day trips with her, and finally settled back down at home - with no visitors - in June. Kids at the base elementary school were just beginning to enjoy their first days of summer vacation, but we were desperate to start our next year of school. Because we’d also be traveling for a month at the end of August, I decided to start our 2014-2015 school year on June 16.

We’re now in our second week of school, and I couldn’t be happier! Our routine and rhythms seem to be exactly what we needed, and today, I thought I’d share what our days and weeks are beginning to look like. We try to have a fairly relaxed schedule that includes time outside, lots of play, and afternoons free for our own special interests. And I am trying to institute a 4-day school week this year so that one day of the week is free for trips to the grocery store and library. Why not do those things on the weekend? Weekends are for family. We still have Saturday free to explore Japan, and Sundays are for being lazy - together. 

Our Weekly Schedule

Monday - Errand Day/No School. 

We’ll go to the grocery and library (it’s convenient to get any books we might need for lessons during the week), and I usually have my Japanese lesson on Monday afternoon. While I wish I could do these errands in the morning, our base library doesn’t open until 11:00am (?! - I know I’m not the only SAHM mom that wishes they would open around 9:00am).

Tuesday - Home Day

Wednesday - Home Day (except for the first Wed. of every month on which we have a tour with Fusako san)

Thursday - Home Day

Friday - Home Day + Japanese class for 6yo

Saturday - Free Family Day

Sunday - Home Day/Rest Day

See? Not too much going on there. And that’s exactly how I like it. 

Our Daily Schedule

Our Daily Schedule has a bit more life in it. I have tried to keep the same routine going day-to-day, and this has been whole-heartedly embraced by my children. They are not bickering as much, and aren’t asking me 5 million times a day what we are doing next. My eldest has also stopped asking to play on the iPad or LeapPad all day long. It’s been a much-needed change.

0500 - I’m up with my husband so that I can have sit in zazen (I’m not great about this), have coffee, read, and check email/FB/Twitter, or blog. 

0600-0730 - My kids usually wake between 6:00-6:30am, and they are allowed to turn on the tv at 0630. They have time to watch one show each before I watch the “nightly” news (we’re on the opposite side of the world, remember) at 0730. Somewhere in this time frame, we’ll also fix some breakfast.

0730 - 0830 - While I’m watching the news, the girls are doing their morning chores (potty, brush teeth, get dressed, make beds). Around 0830, we’ll head outside to the playground if the weather is nice. I like to go out first thing in the morning before it’s had a chance to get uncomfortably hot.

0930-1000 - We’ll come back inside, have a snack, and get started on our school work. Usually, the girls will come inside, wash up, and head straight to our “office.” 

Remember how I was going to institute workboxes? They have been GREAT! The girls each have about 5 paper-tray-sized drawers which are labeled with subjects. Only 3-4 trays will be filled each day, and they contain worksheets/activities that take no longer than 5-10 minutes each. Both girls complained a bit when I first introduced them to the idea of workboxes, but after only a couple of days using the system, they eagerly go in to check their boxes each morning. My 6yo now knows what she is expected to do, and there has been little-to-no complaining about her schoolwork since we started using the boxes. 

They usually do “daily work” first. This is a review or mash-up of subjects.

Next comes handwriting, math, and our special subject of the day. 

Two days a week we read “Story of the World” together and do activities from the activity guide. One day a week we study science together, and one day a week we’ll do an art lesson together.

We are usually finished with school at lunchtime (yay!).

1130-1200 - Lunchtime! While the girls are eating, I usually go over a short grammar lesson (we’re talking 5-10 minutes thanks to First Language Lessons).

1230-1330 - This is usually free time for the girls. They might play, read, or work on a project of their own choosing. I might work on my own project or do some household chores.

1400 - By this time, they are usually asking for some downtime by way of the television or computer. And that is fine with me! I’ll set them up with something to do while I read, blog, or continue my own project work.

1530-1600 - We’ll ease back into playtime and I’ll start straightening up the house before my husband gets home. I want him to think it’s looked clean all day…..

1700 - It’s time to start preparing dinner. We have made it priority that we all sit down together for a meal in the evening. We’ll eat around 1800.

1830-1900 - After dinner, the girls will do their evening chores (sometimes they’ll help clean up after dinner, then potty, brush their teeth, pajamas). They’ll spend their remaining time before bed either reading or playing, or maybe snuggling up with us on the couch.

1930-2000 - Bedtime. One of us will read a book to the girls before bed, sing a song and tuck them in. However, for the last couple of months, our 6yo - since she started reading on her own - will spend another half an hour reading to herself in bed. 

Every morning, our school work is done by lunch, leaving us with plenty of time in the afternoons to play, read, work on projects, or watch something that relates to what we’ve been learning during the week. I firmly believe that children thrive when there is a consistent reliable routine in place. And, notice that I use the word “routine.” I do not have our day scheduled down to the minute. I do, however, how a predictable flow that the girls are learning, and they know what is coming next in the day. They know when they have some work to do, and they know when they’ll have free time to do whatever they like. IT. HAS. BEEN. WONDERFUL. Hopefully, we’ll be able to keep this going all year.  

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