I am a huge believer that every family dynamic is unique and that each family has to discover what works for their household as a whole. A family’s rhythm with infants or older children will look different than a family with only preschoolers in the house. I also have experienced that nothing is set in stone. There is always room for shifting as your family’s needs and interests change. So I share our current daily rhythm only as a starting point to get you thinking about what would work best in your home.
I am strongly passionate about giving children structure, as well as room to explore and play with no strings attached. We say “no” a lot and have zero regrets about that. Fridays are reserved for Auditory Verbal Therapy and time at my mom’s house or a field trip that relates to what we are learning. We guard our dinner times and weekend mornings for family togetherness. Sundays are reserved for worship and extended family meals and playtime with cousins. I am equally passionate about giving myself rest by creating margins in our routine for nature, reading, and sipping coffee.
I wanted to share with you our entire school day schedule, not just the school part because I want you to see it in light of the big picture, in hopes of helping you discover what works best for your family.
Here is a look into our school day rhythm. Scroll down to read each section in more detail.
7:00-8:30am Morning Routine
8:30-9:30am Together Time
9:30-10:30am Preschool Activities
10:30-12:30pm Snack, Intentional Play
12:30-3:00pm Lunch/ Rest Time
3:00-5:30pm Free Play
5:30-7:30pm Dinner/ Night Time Routine
7:30pm Children’s Bed Time
Now I will go into detail about each segment of our day.
My husband and I are awake an hour or two before the children wake up. We spend that time reading, journaling, praying, preparing for the day, working out, or just sitting and sipping coffee. At 7:00 I begin to make breakfast as the children come out of their rooms. They look at books, color, play in our sensory space, or work with the trays on our Tray Shelf. We get dressed, eat breakfast together, and send my husband off to work. I clean up breakfast and set up for our school time while the children go back to their playing until I call us together for Together Time.
This is my favorite part of our day. Titus and Josie grab their floor mats from our homeschool shelf and unroll them onto the living room rug to sit on. This gives them a reminder of personal space boundaries and keeps them from getting in front of each other while I am reading a story or leading them in a song. We start with prayer, inviting God to come into our day and to open our minds to learn and understand. We thank Him for anything that comes to mind and pray for any needs going on around us. The children usually take turns praying aloud after I do. It’s often a jumbled mix of sweet words repeating some line I prayed, but it is a priority and habit I want to instill in them. Then we sing a few songs that correlate with our theme. Usually our songs include hand/ body motions, visuals, and/or instruments and rhythm sticks. If I have a felt board activity or story, I will do it then and let them take turns retelling it after me. At this point we often move to the cozy reading chair, and we read our books for the day. If they want to continue reading other books that are not part of the weekly theme, we do that as well. We transition to our other activities by pulling out some of the Trays for the week and working with them on the living room floor. We wrap this time up based on their interest and involvement.
Sometimes one of the children is still engaged with books, Tot Trays, and Felt Board activities and the other is ready for something else. I usually follow their lead and invite them onto the next planned activities when they are ready. Sometimes that means I am bouncing back and forth between them. These activities include Arts and Crafts, Sensory Play, Letter Recognition & Formation, and Basic Math Skills. We typically do these activities at the kitchen table, but sometimes they require movement, cooking, or adventuring which causes us to take our lesson elsewhere. I do not force any activity on them, but I do encourage them to try each thing at least one time. My son is often resistant to anything he has never tried before, so having learning invitations available to him all throughout the day and following his lead is the key to success.
SNACK/ INTENTIONAL PLAY
The children typically will have their snack outside on the patio and listen to some audiobooks while I clean up from schooling. From then until Rest Time, I try to schedule things ahead of time that foster relationship and exploration. Sometimes that means we all go outside and make mudpies. Other days we walk a trail or have a picnic. Often we have playdates with friends, at our home or meet up at a park. One day a week my sister-in-law and niece come over and we all bake a treat together that correlates with what we are learning. Another day each week we go to the library to get the next unit’s books and attend Preschool Storytime.
LUNCH/ REST TIME
We often pack a picnic lunch for our morning adventure or eat outside if it is a nice day. Around 1:00 both of my children go into their rooms for Rest Time. They don’t always sleep, but they play quietly in their rooms until around 3:00. They usually ask to take books in their room or for me to get down some blocks or puzzles from their closets. During this time, I do household chores, lesson planning, and dinner prep.
This time is typically spent outside in our backyard. We have a trampoline, slide, swings, and a playhouse. But usually you can find them playing with sticks, mud, and rocks. Sometimes they want to stay inside and continue exploring something we did that morning in school time, so sometimes afternoons are filled with more painting or sensory play. We have basic arts and crafts supplies out for them to use anytime they would like. They also often ask for me to read to them again or sing some of the songs from the morning. Around 5:00 I typically allow them to watch a show while I prep dinner.
DINNER / NIGHTTIME ROUTINE
After dinner, my husband usually bathes them while I clean up and then we play or read books together in the living room until their bedtime around 7 or 7:30, depending on how worn out they are or if they napped or not.
Our days are both full and calm. It took a lot of trial and error to get to this place, and my hope for you is that you can glean from this to create the rhythm that suits your family’s unique needs and desires.