So far, I’ve talked about long-term goals and envisioning the homeschool subjects imbedded in those goals; today I’d like to talk a bit about beginning the process of translating that into everyday living.
My first priority in thinking about any type of schedule for our days is the concept of rhythm. Rhythm helps us all to relax into the security of knowing what comes next, and cuts down on decision fatigue for me as a mother. It allows both for stimulation and relaxation, for refreshment in change and the heart-warming qualities of regularity.
When I think of rhythm, I think of music! Musical rhythm consists of activity and rest in alternating regularity, and this is what I strive for in our home rhythm as well. Activity, then rest. Consistency. Sometimes the rest is an actual rest or break; sometimes it is just a change in activity or location. If the activity (mental or physical) is strenuous, I try to keep it short, and anticipate needing a change sooner rather than later.
I also want to honor our own family’s natural rhythms. We have consistent meal times and bedtimes, with their own routines, and schooling and life must fit around those. Spending time outside is important to me, as is a consistent rest time after lunch, and I know that my children are not up to challenging academic work after lunch. Just acknowledging the natural rhythms of our family allows me to see a framework coming clear, as the subjects I want to cover in our school time became clear with the acknowledgement of my bigger priorities.
Our current daily rhythm looks like this:
- Breakfast (early, and the girls like to read/look at books afterwards)
- Taking care of our home, getting ready for the day
- Academic work, alternating activities for rest and refreshment
- Free time for younger children as the older children finish up their day’s academic work
- Lunch (around noon)
- Taking care of our home, clearing up
- Rest time
- Outdoor time (realistically, errands also happen during this time period, but I try to keep them to a minimum, and the girls still get time outside at home before dinner. we definitely do not have daily errands)
- Dinner (around six in the evening)
- Bedtime (they are getting so much older! they used to have bedtime at 6:30, but the younger girls now have final lights out at 7:30, and the older girls at 8:30)
That has been our rhythm really for all of their lives, with changes to accommodate younger people when they were younger. A morning tea time and an afternoon tea time, for littler bellies, for one! Naptime has shifted to rest time, and our academic work used to look like singing songs, doing fingerplays, and reading picture books. Bedtimes have edged later as they need a little less sleep. In the summer time, we shift the academic work time to more outside time, or free play, and we have the added routine of swimming lessons, but this framework has guided our days happily, in all seasons, for years. I was so glad to read that one of Fr. Hopko’s guidelines for living a Christian life is to “have a daily schedule of activities, avoiding whim and caprice,” because I believe that having a daily rhythm is a major component in cultivating a peaceful life.