“The teacher must be content to proceed very slowly, securing the ground under her feet as she goes” -Charlotte Mason (Vol. 1, p. 204).
The way I run our school days has changed each year depending on the current baby or toddler’s age and ability not to be disruptive. No two years have looked the same.
Last year, my littlest one was a wee, walking, jabbering 1-year-old and in a constant state of getting into trouble, eating all the markers, climbing on the school table, etc. We relied heavily on her nap time to get any serious work done.
This year she is 2 years old and a little less interested in mischief, well…that is, as long as she’s not hiding under the car in the driveway, eating dog food, or flushing toothbrushes down the toilet. Ha ha…little people are so fun!
This year I am implementing more of a rhythm, rather than a schedule for our school days. I’m not great at watching the clock and it makes me a little crazy when I do, so I’m better off working around the rhythms of meals, nap times and external activities.
Our daily rhythm looks like this:
Breakfast and Morning Time reading [I read aloud while they eat]
Ready for the day, chores, breakfast clean-up
Outdoor time and exercise
1st hour of school
Snack break & outdoor time
2nd hour of school
Lunch break & outdoor time
Free time [or independent study time for my oldest, if needed.]
Schedule vs. Rhythm
The difference between a schedule and a rhythm for us is that a rhythm tells us what to do next but not when to do it. It helps me to focus on the task at hand and complete it before moving to the next thing, rather than worrying about the fact that it is 10:35 and we are 5 minutes past our snack break time.
It also gives us the freedom to move quickly through a subject if the kids are really getting it and don’t need as much time as I had planned.
I find that a rhythm helps me focus more on the needs of my children over my need to work by the clock.
One of my goals in teaching my children is to teach for mastery of a subject not completion of a workbook or page. While I am all about finishing a project and having a sense of accomplishment, I find it is easy to get focused on the task of completion and overlook the needs the child might have of focusing a little longer in a certain area in order to gain mastery.
Pick Up Where You Left Off
The other piece to rhythm that I find so helpful is that it allows me the ability to simply do the next the thing. For example, if the start to our day gets delayed and we don’t get started until 10:30…well, I just pick up where we left off yesterday and begin. I don’t worry about being “behind” or not keeping up. We just move forward and do the next thing.
I believe this is to be an excellent life skill for my children. It is easy to set goals and then miss a day and feel like you can never catch up and then give up completely.
Rather than stress over how much we didn’t do or how “behind” we are getting, I choose to put one foot in front of the other and continue to press forward.
As long as we are moving and pointed in the right direction we will stay on course and eventually meet our goals. Leave the guilt behind and focus on the reward of learning that which is in front of us.
Keep calm and press on with your day. In the end they will learn to be self-learners and teach themselves anything you feel you may have forgotten.