Recently, I took a step back from schooling and took some time to read, pray about, and discover more of what I believe is important in these early years. Out of my discoveries I felt the need to shift some of our routines, taking things out and adding new things into our daily rhythm. I derived most of these changes from things I learned studying Charlotte Mason’s philosophies. In a nutshell, I felt we needed more margin in our days for outdoor time, a heavier emphasis on habit training, and more spiritual truth being taught in a natural way. I was thrilled to walk away from all of this research to find that the current curriculum I have been using, The Peaceful Preschool, lines up very well with the direction I hope to continue to go in home educating.
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.
I wanted to share with you our entire weekday schedule, not just the school part because I want you to see it in light of the big picture. This is our Monday-Friday schedule, as weekends usually start the same with breakfast and morning chores and then take on a life of their own with outings and family time.
Here is a look into our daily rhythm. Scroll down to read each section in more detail.
7 - 8:30am Morning Routine
8:30 - 9am Morning Chores
9 - 9:45am Together Time
9:45 - 11am Table Time
11am - 1pm Outing / Outdoor Play
1 - 3:30pm Lunch / Rest Time
3:30 - 5pm Free Play / Poetry Tea Time
5 - 7:30pm Dinner / Nighttime Routine
7:30pm Children’s Bed Time
Now I will go into detail about each segment of our day.
I am usually up by 6am to have some time in silence with my coffee and Bible before the day gets crazy. Between 7-7:30am the children are usually awake and hungry! They immediately jump in to help me make breakfast. When they are finished eating they clear their dishes and are free to play until I call them back for Morning Chores. During this time I start a load of laundry, empty the dishwasher and load it from breakfast, and get dressed.
On our big chalkboard in the main area of the house, I write a short list of chores for the morning that we will all do together. “Get Dressed” is the only one that is always there. I add in different ones each day according to what needs to be done or a skill I want them to learn. Some other examples are wash windows, feed the pet fish, and sort laundry. All of these chores are done together at this point. We check off each chore and celebrate as they are accomplished.
If you are familiar with Charlotte Mason, you have probably heard of having a “Morning Basket”. This is that morning basket time for us. We gather in the living room on the floor or outside on the porch if the weather is lovely. 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. Then we sing a few songs from our music class, some nursery rhymes, or bible songs. Usually these include hand and body motions, visuals, and/or instruments and rhythm sticks. Next I read or review the Bible story for the week and we practice our memory verse with sign language. Then I read 3-5 books from our preschool curriculum or from Read Aloud Revival’s monthly booklist.
We all move from the living room to the dining room table, and the kids eat a snack while I gather supplies for our table activities. These activities are from The Peaceful Preschool and ones I have found on my own on Pinterest that correlate with the season or our current bible lesson. It usually includes a handicraft project or sensory activity. These activities are all set up as invitations with nothing formally instructed.
OUTING / OUTDOOR PLAY
This is the part of our day that we make mudpies, take a hike on a trail, or have a picnic. Often we have playdates with friends at our home or meet up at a playground. One day a week during this time we attend a family-style music class and another day every week we attend storytime at our local library.
LUNCH / REST TIME
We often pack a picnic lunch for our morning adventure or eat outside if it is a nice day. Around 1:30pm Titus and Josie go into their rooms for Rest Time. They rarely nap, but they play in their rooms until around 3:30pm. My son (4.5 years old) is allowed to keep his light on and listen to music or audiobooks. My daughter (3 years old) has the light off and ends up napping a couple times a week. During this time, I clean up from the morning, do additional household chores, and rest.
FREE PLAY / POETRY TEA TIME
Once or twice a week I set up tea time at the dining room table when they come out from resting. We have some treats and tea (or coffee or juice) and I read from a poetry book for 15-20 minutes. Other days this gets scratched and they head outside to the backyard as soon as they come out of their rooms. We have a trampoline, slide, swings, and a pots-and-pans drum circle. Usually you can find them playing with sticks, mud, and rocks. Sometimes they want to stay inside and play or do arts and crafts. We don’t have a lot of toys, but I've listed some of our favorite toys for open-ended play. We also have basic arts and crafts supplies out for them to use anytime they would like.
DINNER / NIGHTTIME ROUTINE
I usually bring the kids in around 5 and allow them to watch a show while I prep dinner. They currently like TumbleLeaf on Amazon Prime. After dinner, my husband usually bathes them while I clean up and then we all play or read books together in the living room. Sometimes I have them help straighten up their bedrooms if they got messy during rest time. They go to bed around 7 or 7:30, depending on how worn out they are and 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!