One of the questions I get asked most frequently is how I schedule our days.
My typical answer is “do school when the littlest is napping.” But truth be told, as I planned for this school year, I didn’t take into account our fifth and most adorable schoolmate. All things could easily go awry if he chooses to be unruly. And he doubtless will.
I’ve been asked over and over by moms about a timed schedule. I have really hesitated to share a specific one, because a) I’ve got five kids, and the sheer amount of educating I do can be visually overwhelming, and b) I don’t want something that I share to be a cause for comparison or feelings of insufficiency. That’s one of the dangers of modern parenting—seeing what everyone else is doing and feeling like you’re not doing enough or being enough. However, I do realize that some of you are beginning homeschool planning for the first time and wonder what it could look like with multiple kids. So with a little fear and trembling and best intentions to help those who are struggling with scheduling, I’m putting this schedule here….knowing that each day is a delicate dance with unique steps.
This year, we will need to incorporate more of a scheduled approach, simply because several of our topics of study (two different foreign languages, typing, library and/or kindle books, and occasional music lessons) involve the use of technology, and it needs to be shared. You’ll notice I don’t have specific times written on this schedule. That’s intentional. I have some kids who struggle with anxiety birthed from anticipation and bound by timetables. So I’ve created a visual layout of the routines we will be creating but not added in the times that I intend to perform them.
Here is what I’ve landed on. I’ve given each category a verb from the Bible that shapes how I view each timeframe.2020schoolroutine
As for me, I shall behold your face in righteousness; when I awake, I shall be satisfied with your likeness. Ps. 17:15
Mornings are not the best time in our home. We’ve been working and refining our habits and routines for years now, and they’re still not perfect. However, they do tend to run better when we have time together as a family reading the Bible, praying, singing hymns, and sharing passages that we’re memorizing. Lately, our kids have all been reading their Bibles separately before breakfast, so our rime together has been as simple as a child reading one liturgy from Every Moment Holy (our particular favorite is The Liturgy for the Ritual of Morning Coffee — for whatever reason, my kids love reading this as we all sip hot beverages together, theirs predominately almond milk with a splash of coffee thrown in for good measure.)
We begin our day by beholding Christ in all of his beauty and then considering his creation. We behold His creation and consider our response to His goodness, His truth, and His beauty. We also spend time beholding things that are beautiful that reflect Him. Oftentimes, this comes in the form of music, poetry, and art.
This is the part of the day where my two new first-graders will be hearing their lessons. I chose the word walk because over and over in the Bible it talks about learning to walk, and “as you are going” teaching is a huge part of discipleship. I have been doing some rearranging over this summer, and this is the biggest change—putting the two younger learners right up front. Essentially, all of their major Mama time will be in the morning first thing. I’m hoping that I’ll be able to fill their buckets adequately so that they’ll be able to function a little independently. (Fingers crossed!)
I’ve called this time shepherding time because shepherds need to consistently care for the needs of their sheep. Two of my kids have their most challenging subjects during this time. It can be frustrating to see your child struggle, and I need to keep in mind the attitude of a shepherd as he helps his young lambs. He keeps his tone even, his pace predictable, he doesn’t express frustration at what they’re unable to do or know.
Because they’re young. This is the mindset I need to keep during this time.
Both of my older boys are able to do some of their work independently, but they will each be meeting challenging topics and ideas this year, so I needed to set aside time with them each as individuals to delve into some topics in a deeper way individually. This will be typically their history and literature studies.
My two older have some overlap in their historical periods that they’ll be studying this year. They’re also overlapping on our science curriculum. This is the time that we’ll be doing our science experiments, reading historical narratives that cover the time period overlap, and discussing exploration, colonialism, slavery, justice, revolution, government formation, and liberty.
I do have a post in the works about this particular time. It’s essentially lunchtime where I fill in the corners of all of the kids’ hearts with good stories and heroism. Oftentimes this will be in an audiobook format so that my throat can have a rest after a morning of solid talking and reading aloud. I chose the word “cast” because of the story when Jesus tells the disciples to cast their nets to the other side of the boat. They were tired of the work, and tired in general. They don’t have the imagination or faith to believe that the results could be different. But by choosing to cast, they’re able to see amazing things. They’re able to witness wonders and goodness. That’s what I want the kids to see in the stories I pick for them—stories of heroism, stories of goodness, faithfulness, sacrifice. Stories that wouldn’t seem believable. But stories that echo God’s heart and story. By filling their hearts with stories, I’m choosing to cast the net at a point in the day that I’m typically already exhausted. And I am choosing to believe that with God, the results will be different. And I’ll see miracles.
This is a quiet read time for an hour. Everyone is required to be reading something for fun—not catch-up school reading. This is their chance to just have a good ol’ rollick with Hank the Cowdog or a ride on Bree or a stumble through the woods with Frodo. They can slay a monster with Perseus. They can find Corduroy’s button. But whatever they do, they must be generally quiet.
Because I’m an introvert and need time to fill my bucket back up.
This year with the baby, we’re instituting what we’re calling “scoopy duty.” It got its name from a few days where I told the kids that we needed to make sure to be giving the baby his own “two scoops” of poetry and literature. So once a week, each older child spends their quiet read time caring for the baby and reading to him books of their own choosing. This is not completely independent. It’s a training time for right now, where I teach them how to care for younger children, how to calm and comfort little ones, how to rock a baby to sleep. Right now, I don’t get much of a break during the day….but it’s a season, and the older kids will all come out of it with comfort and experience caring for a baby.
After Consider Time, we have a small half an hour or so of Reason time again, where I meet intentionally with my older son who will be in some challenging literature this year. After I meet with him, I’ll ensure that everyone’s work for the day is done. Then the kids have an extended period of play. If there is an educational movie (hello, Liberty’s Kids…. “I see a laaaa-aaaand….”) scheduled, this will be the time that they’ll get to view it. But I’d rather they just play and play and play some more. This time is set aside specifically and guarded so that the kids can restore their hearts and minds with child-like play. At the same time, they often take this time to experience all of the ideas they’ve gathered throughout the day in playtime. I can’t count the times that I’ve seen medieval battles reenacted with Legos or by passels of kids in costumes.
This is my newest plan for this year. I used to have poetry teatime, and then I had tea with morning time.
But all of my kids’ blood sugars drop predictably at 3:30 in the afternoon. And then crabbiness happens and chaos ensues. So this year, I’m moving teatime to 3:30, and I won’t be reading during it. It’ll be a time to share one or two things we learned throughout the day, a time to make sure I’m having intentional conversation with the kids, not just instruction. I want my kids to know how to relate as a friend to those around them, so I need to demonstrate genuine interest in their likes and dislikes, their stories, and their tales of woe.
After their blood sugars are more regulated, we have a time to bless our family.
This is a half an hour or so where we straighten the house in order to get ready for dinner together. The idea is that by blessing others, we can experience the blessing of fellowship and fun together as a family later. I’ll usually pop on their favorite peppy songs (Lucille by Little Richard, the YMCA song, In the Summertime by Mungo Jerry are a few…), and we’ll enjoy a short time to get the house back in order.
And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works… Hebrews 10:24
Family dinner. But more than that. A time for the kids to engage in family discussions about the world around us and how we can be loving and do good works. This is where our kids learn about ethics, politics, prayer, and how faith intersects every area of life.
After dinner is cleared away, they’ll have another time of (quieter) play.
This is a family bedtime story. I typically have two books going on at the same time, one during lunch and one as a bedtime story. This past summer, things got out of whack, and we ended up just binging our way through a bunch of fantasy books. But ideally, this would be a book that would be a little less intense and with fewer battle sequences, because my 5-year-old doesn’t like hearing battle scenes right before bed. So we’ll probably be reading a few more “mystery” type books or books about siblings that overcome the life circumstances in which they find themselves.
There, I think that’s a pretty good rundown of what a day *should* look like around here. It sounds really great. I doubt that there will ever be a single day where we meet each of these categories completely perfectly and have hearts that focus on the intentions behind the times. Because I’m a sinner. My kids are too. But it’s better to have a blueprint for the house you’re building then to try to build a house as you’re going along.