Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Systems...school day plans

I'm still working on my kitchen systems, but I'm also starting to mull over how I want to organize our days come formal school time.

I have a general routine that I follow when I think about "schedules". I am a planner, a list maker, by nature, so I *love* making schedules. I can create a schedule down to the very last minute that lists everything I have to do and makes it all look really easy. But, when I try to put it all into practice, I don't even last a day. I wake up late, and feel overwhelmed by the progression of tasks. I end up only discouraged.

So, for the last few months, I have foregone planning all together. I don't make schedules or lists. In a way, it has been freeing. I have come to understand that I am a very intuitive person, and as much as I like to plan, I am actually somewhat spontaneous in that I like to react to situations. I love days like we had several weeks ago. We took an extra 20 minutes at J1's piano lesson, when he asked me about how different notes played together sounded differently. I explained major and minor keys and how different sounds can impact our mood. I pulled out an old copy of Stravinsky's "The Firebird Suite", and we listened and discussed how the music actually tells the story of the Phoenix. We spent a whole morning enjoying ourselves, and we learned SO MUCH. I LOVED it. And so did J1, and I noticed A2 surreptitiously listening in, too. I feel like, because I have embraced a more fluid concept to my days, rather than a rigid schedule, I am more ready to take advantage of these teachable moments, more ready to throw my plans out the window and have fun learning with my kids. And I feel like that is when "Real Learning" happens!

There is, however, a downfall. In these fluid, free-flowing days, I have troubles. I can't keep up with the work of running my household, and there are some school-ish things I wanted to accomplish that I didn't.

So, I am pondering a compromise. I am sure others have done it before me, and much better, and I would like to thank all of you because those of you who have talked about this before have put ideas into my head that have perked for awhile.

My tentative plans for our school days involve using set "pegs" or "hooks" to hang the flow of our days upon. We'll have fairly rigid times for meals and snacks, and we'll try to be done with more formal stuff when dad gets home. (Though I suspect that J1 is going to have enough extra work this year that he might have to resign himself to doing some things in the evenings. Since he doesn't like to start his work much before 10:30am, I don't feel badly about this!) I'll have some things I want to accomplish each day (outdoors play time, for instance) that will usually happen after something else, but is more flexible. We'll have time for doing chores and projects, and we'll have certain days for errands and science experiments, etc. I'm still in the idea phase of this, but so far it goes something like this:

8:30am-9am - breakfast for all

9am-11am - schoolish stuff (I'm thinking we'll start the day together, with prayer and some set routine to get us going)

11am - snack and story, then play outside

12pm - 2pm - more schoolish stuff

2pm - lunch

2:30pm - 3pm - chores and clean up for daddy's homecoming

3pm - dad's home, mostly done for the day

6:30pm - dinner

Younger kids will have freetime after that, J1 may have more work, we may have some time later in the afternoon for more chores. I'm thinking that we'll mix things up a bit on Fridays, run some errands in the morning and make cookies for the weekend. Maybe do our science experiments on Fridays. We'll see. I like having a set time for certain things to give our days rhythms, but also long blocks of unscheduled time to pursue our learning.

More details to follow as I flesh this out some more, and I will definitely let ya'll know how it goes!

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