“The rhythm of family. Until we transform the chaos of family life, we can never hope to transform society. I envision a circle of caring intimacy. I envision a place where we celebrate waking, eating, noisy laughter, quiet moments of communion. I envision a sanctuary, however unorthodox, where each of us can develop inner harmony and strength of character. Perhaps from such a place we can more fully meet the world, sowing seeds of peace and understanding. The rhythm of family is a crucial catalyst in restoring the rhythm of the world.”
-from Seven Times the Sun by Shea Darian
Our morning time rhythm is so life giving for me…I hope my children feel the same. I rise before them, drinking my coffee hot and reading scripture, then one by one they join me, warm little sleepy bodies snuggled around me. They eat breakfast – usually sprouted oats, or yogurt, maybe scrambled eggs – and I read aloud to them.
Some of our very favorite read aloud books for early elementary
Snow and Rose
The Magician’s Nephew
Everybody Always for kids
The Courage of Sarah Noble
The Bears of Hemlock Mountain
My Father’s Dragon
Fanny in France
The Green Ember
After that our favorite records play, the diffuser gets loaded up, and everyone gets dressed and ready for the day. The kids head out to feed the animals and I usually answer a few emails or start some laundry.
Depending on the weather and time of year, this may send us directly into our lessons for the day, or we might go for a short run outside before beginning.
Then our daily math and language arts exercises begin. I don’t think your rhythm needs to look any specific way, I just think it’s about creating a calming routine, accepted by all involved, which fosters feelings of comfort, safety, and belonging.
We begin “school” each day by about 8am, and wrap up our formal lessons by about 12pm. Everyday of the week we begin with reading aloud, followed by math and language arts. Our other subjects are organized as follows:
Wednesday- Science/foreign language
Friday- art/field trip/nature group
(Please note that sometimes things come up and that we keep this structure fairly flexible. This is our projected rhythm, yes, but sometimes we go on field trips or play outside longer and finish up school later). There will also be art and music lessons in there as well as nature group once the school year starts again!
We usually take a 30 minute recharge break around 9:30am, when I clean up the first part of lessons and set up for the second half. I also use this time to get myself ready (I use the term loosely) for the day, and the kids play outside with a snack. I also may prep dinner or do some light cleaning, answer emails, whatever I can manage to squeeze in while the kids burn off some energy outside.
The baby is definitely the most challenging, (and cutest!) part of our homeschool day. I have baskets of beautifully curated natural wood toys laying around for him to discover while we do our lessons, and of course he could care less about them and would much rather climb on the school table, or grab the kids’ pencils out of their hands.
Once we wrap our school lessons, we make, eat, and clean up lunch, then it’s quiet time for all from about 12:30-2pm. Daphne and Sullivan read independently or play with legos in their rooms, or if the weather is nice, they play outside with the animals, while the little ones nap. I use this time to answer emails, edit, write, whatever work needs to be done.
After quiet time we usually head outside to play and have a snack. I will also factor in music lessons one afternoon a week as well in the fall.
Some rhythms I’ve found that help the day run more smoothly for myself are:
-cleaning the kitchen after each meal
-picking up the house each night
-having the kids clean up if they’re playing inside, before moving onto another activity
-I also meal plan every Sunday. I cook six dinners a week, and plan them all out, make my grocery list (which includes breakfast and lunch items), then grocery shop once a week on Tuesday morning when I just have 2/3 little ones with me. It’s so nice to know what I’m making for dinner each night, and also that I have everything I need for all our meals.
-waking before my kids is really helpful as well if I can manage it. It gives me a few minutes of contemplative quietude to focus our day before it begins.
-I also try to get all of our homeschool lessons for the first part of our day laid out and ready the night before. It allows the kids to wake up and thumb through books the next morning that will spark thoughts about that day’s topics.
-We do very little television, but when we do, they are calming nature based shows. Our favorites are Winnie the Pooh, Little Bear, Tumble Leaf, Gullah Gullah Island, and Curious George. Saturday mornings are made special because they are allowed to wake up and watch a few shows, and of course we have movie nights and things like that. I don’t want this to sound like I think screens are the enemy, but I’ve just found that my kids do better without it. And once they get into the groove of not watching it, they forget about it all together. (Let it be known that I also have days where I am exhausted and short on patience, and I will put a movie on for a moment of quiet). The school table is the heart of our home, just beside the kitchen, and is always available to them with lots of craft supplies. There are blocks and train tracks as well, and a cabinet full of hands-on things they can play with anytime; play-dough, kenetic sand, wool roving, beeswax, puzzles, and anything else I can shove in there!
I think keeping a rhythm in our home creates a familiarity for myself and my children. It feels safe and comfortable to know what to expect, what to look forward to, and I think that when it’s right for your family, it will just fall into place. However, I also think keeping a level of flexibility within everything we do is necessary when mothering small children . Nothing needs to be forced, or to look a certain way, but if you observe your days, you will begin to notice a natural rhythm falling into place, and to foster that sway, that dance, will only serve as a magnetic force of togetherness inside your home.
*Stay tuned for part 3/3 of my homeschool posts! Next I will be talking all about the different curriculums I’ve found to work best with different ages/learning styles.