In my time homeschooling, I have never met a family that does things the exact same way. This, is one of the beautiful things about homeschooling. Some families are very loose in their schedules and some need more routine. As an occupational therapist, consulting with homeschoolers, we talk through each family's specific routine, the student response to the routine, and any adjustments to be made. Though sometimes we alter the order of activity, most of the time, we put systems into place for the routine to be more predictable.
When it comes to a daily schedule, orientation to the date, time, and place, is an important aspect. Simply put, how do we know when we need to be somewhere if we don't know the date? We start our day with calendar time including calendar, season, and weather. My little guy has these little wooden dolls dressed for the season. He places them over the picture of the weather for the day. We look at a typical calendar to find the date and day of the week. Another type of calendar that we used in the past, allows the months and dates to be changed. This is especially helpful as a visual and tactile cue for children to place the next date on the calendar.
Once oriented to the day, the next step is to keep to a schedule throughout the day. Charlotte Mason refers to this as the daily rhythm. To me, this allows familiarity yet does not force us to stick to a rigorous 8:00 spelling, 9:00 math or even worse 8:52 PE, 11:47- lunch (yes, I remember this from high school). in our home, we use two visual aids to help stick to our rhythm.
We use a loop schedule. I first learned of a loop schedule from Sarah Mackenzie of Read-a-loud revival. She states, "Looping is my antidote to steamrolling over everybody in my zeal to check everything off my list. That’s something I really struggle with. The concept is simply this: instead of assigning tasks to certain days of the week, list tasks and then tackle them in order, regardless of what day it is."
We use loop scheduling in three areas of our homeschool. 1) morning time loop- We use Classical Conversations as our spine for our studies. However, in Charlotte Mason style, we add living books about most subjects. Everyday our morning time includes watching CNN 10 for current events, reading the Bible, a simple French lesson, and reading Story of the World. Then, we have a morning time loop where we loop through map drawing coupled with a geography living book, drawing in our timeline books, a math living book, and studying poetry. 2) independent work- We worked together to come up with 4 subject areas where the kids move along in their studies on their own. Some are areas of their own interest ie drawing and calligraphy. Some are areas that are needed for future successes ie Latin and typing. 3) cleaning/ chore time- Each child has 4 chores that they rotate through.
The key to loop scheduling is that the subjects or chores are not tied to a specific day yet go in a specific order. That gives freedom to miss a day without falling behind.
Since we have a daily rhythm, we just spend a minute or two every day talking about the specifics for each subject for each kid. This visual is on our chalkboard wall. One child copies her work into a planner, and one child checks work off the board. This allows them to take ownership of the rest of their day and break it up as needed.
We are very simplistic in our visual schedules though some students need to be more rigid. Lauren and Claire, fellow pediatric occupational therapists, at the Inspired Tree House blog give a fantastic explanation of more in depth visual schedules as well as how to build them.
In our family, calendar time, visual schedules, and loop schedules provide order to our home school day. Adding systems in place for each family to find their rhythm is one of my favorite aspects of consulting with homeschooling families. Though no home school day will look the same, hopefully these systems can influence your day!