As you read about our daily activities I thought it might be helpful to know how we structure our school days. Our school day is set up for 4 children. Two of them are my girls. Lovey is 3, and Tinker is 18 months old. We are also joined by two wonderful little boys. The oldest is 3, and the baby is 9 months old.
Since beginning my time at home with the kids I have tried two different approaches.
We started with a more open structure where I had a couple of activities planned for the day, and I left the rest of the day to a less planned routine. While this is what I envisioned when I decided to stay home and I know this type of schedule works very well for many families, it just wasn’t for us. I found that by lunch the girls were restless and my oldest was begging to watch a movie. I also felt like I wasn’t giving them enough in the way of learning opportunities, and I ended most days feeling like I hadn’t accomplished much in our home or in our learning. Honestly, I am pretty sure that this didn’t work for us because I have a full-fledged Type A personality. I personally just need more structure in my days, and so far it seems like my kids are a lot like me (oh boy!).
So with the new “school year” we started a more structured routine, and we are all enjoying it. At first glance it may seem a little rigid, but please know that I use it as a guide. This way I have an outline of all of the different learning opportunities I want to include each week. That doesn’t mean we do everything every day. Some days the kids are really engaged in an art activity, so we will extend that time. Other days, they may really be enjoying story time, so we will spend more time reading before moving on to something else. Ultimately, my goal is for the kids to love learning, so I yield to their enthusiasm as much as I can.
Our typical school day begins at 8 am. Before then the girls and I have eaten breakfast, gotten dressed, kissed Daddy goodbye, and finished our morning chores.
8 am: We start with calendar time and songs related to our theme. Everyone participates or watches to some extent. Even the baby loves to clap along.
8:15 am: The big kids do name and letter fun activities that include a rotation of magnetic letters, stamping, letter stickers, name puzzles, and sensory writing activities. The little ones usually play with toys or try to find the cat (who does her best to hide)! I prepare snack.
8:30 am: Snack
8:45 am: We head outdoors. It is most often hot where we live, so we get out early to enjoy a walk or play in the yard.
9:30 am: The oldest three have free play. The baby begins his nap. I usually set up our art activity and prepare what I can for our lunch.
10:00 am: We sit together for story time and do some phonemic awareness activities.
10:15 am: The big kids choose between a couple of art options, and I usually have something planned for Tinker.
10:45 am: Dance time! Get those sillies out!
11:00 am: Free play again for the big kids. The baby drinks a bottle. Then I finish preparing lunch.
11:30 am: Lunch time for the big kids and me. The baby enjoys testing out his new crawling and pulling up skills.
12:00 pm: Stories and nap time. Lovey and Tinker nap regularly. Lovey does not nap any more but she still has quiet time for about an hour. While the others are resting I do floor activities with the baby and feed him lunch. Then Lovey gets up and enjoys playing with the baby and doing various quiet time activities that usually relate to our current theme or another learning goal we are working on. The baby goes down for his afternoon nap just before the others wake up.
2:00 pm: TV time. Yes, we do have scheduled TV time. The oldest two watch one 30-minute show on DVR. Tinker prefers to snuggle with Mommy when she first wakes up, so we usually rock and play a bit.
2:30 pm: We usually work on crafts, science projects, or cooking activities related to our letter of the week or current theme.
3:00 pm: Snack time for the big kids, and a bottle for the baby.
3:15 pm: We play outdoors in the backyard.
4:00 pm: We sing a goodbye song, and officially end our school day. The boys’ mom arrives shortly after that to pick them up, and the girls and I have some play time before starting dinner.
This is our basic schedule most days of the week. We also have a standing play date and go to library story time once a week, and in the fall our local zoo offers an awesome story time with live animals. These things and other special activities that come up along the way are part of the reason I love schooling from home.
So what do you think? Am I forgetting anything that you think should be a regular part of our learning day? What kind of structure do you prefer in your day? Let me know in the comments. I would love to hear your thoughts, as I know our schedule will continually evolve as the kids grow and change.