I rambled about our new preschool schedule when I designed it. One hour, dedicated to specifically "school" activities. Structured around circle time and music and movement. Reciting the Pledge of Allegiance.
The schedule was beautifully designed, and an overall good fit for our daughter.
If we were preparing her for a life of traditional school.
But we're not.
We've let "preschool hour drop" from our day. Are we learning? Definitely. We do calendar every day, and sometimes Monkey elects to go to her choice chart and choose a few activities for us to do. With the change of the month, I'll be updating the post-its to our new unit study activities. BUT, I don't really plan on keeping this necessarily.
One of the reasons we're interested in becoming a "homeschool family" is that we have the ability to let our daughter's (or daughters' if you've been tuned in to my scattered posts) education be a natural part of her life. It began to really bother me that I was setting aside this hour for school, as if the rest of her day was not rich in learning opportunity. It didn't exactly require an explanation, much less a teaching background, for Mr. Medic to catch on. And so we scratched preschool hour, and although I longed for a brilliant idea (that I could also put into action immediately), none were forthcoming.
And then I had one. I'm full of brilliant ideas, just ask Mr. Medic. OK, don't, because I highly doubt he would qualify very many of them as brilliant.
I decided that our focus will instead be on having a consistent flow to our day. This time, though, I wasn't thinking schedule. Honestly, schedules don't work here. I have to flip the cards around constantly, because really, life happens and forgetfulness happens, and every day is not identical.
Our mornings and evenings usually have a certain flow to them however. The same handful of tasks are done each time, though maybe not in the exact same order. Lunch is always around the same time, and Monkey usually requires some down time in the early afternoon. I also recognized that we were too often spending time navigating play dates and errands, and it was making our time in our home chaotic with chores and tantrums over needing some dedicated attention. I recognized that we needed rules governing our play dates (for her benefit and my own; Mr. Medic just happens to get a cleaner home out of it too!).
The brilliant idea was the realization that this did not need to be a highly specific and ordered schedule. Having recently been discussing posting rainbows on our fridges with a friend, as a reminder to our children to eat a variety of fruits and vegetables, I stumbled upon the idea of "clouds."
Each cloud is a naturally occurring time of day for us, so it was very easy to break it up. Wake-up, Evening, and Night were filled quick, as these are consistent even before I wrote it down. Morning Meeting is our replacement for circle time. Monkey does calendar every day, by her own choice now, at breakfast, so it was natural to simply elaborate on that.
Mid-day is naturally a time for lunch and rest here, but it still needed more definition, and Morning and Afternoon are the times of day here when all falls apart. Sometimes it falls apart right into Mid-Day and Evening. I made the executive decision that mornings would be for time at home - time with each other and time for chores. Arts and crafts can easily be done at the table while I make lunch, and we read together or Monkey may watch a show after lunch, depending on what our day is like. Afternoons are often when we would head out most often, as it simply works well for us, so I decided to make it official, and announced to friends that we would only venture out of our neighborhood between 1:00 and 5:00 (so, we can have morning play dates, but only close to home where we can quickly pack up to move on with our day). Tuesdays I don't mind doing lunch dates, because we are already out for gymnastics class, but otherwise I am blocking our time.
I am actually finding that I am calmer (even come night), more cleaning is accomplished (seriously, the place is looking better every day!), and Monkey is calmer as we settle into our "clouds." She has quickly picked up on the few new additions/changes to our routines, and seems much more content knowing the pattern. Very rarely, I've simply needed to point out which cloud we're at in the day, and she moves forward with me, accomplishing whatever from that cloud is needed or wanted on the given day. She may not be reading yet, but it gives us the opportunity to discuss what we are doing, and reminds both of us of the rhythm in our days now.
The rainbow is her new reminder to eat lots of colors (generally, blue/purple and white are the only things she eats little of, but this has helped trying to get those in there). She knows it is just a little different from a typical rainbow, and we specifically refer to it as our "food rainbow." The sun is our reminder to choose a positive attitude throughout the day.
I am also working on a bright idea to make our unit studies a more naturally occurring part of our "Morning Cloud" (hence, guided activities). Right now, however, I am content to simply do hidden pictures together, and the occasional activity pulled from our cabinets.
What do you do when you realize a part of life appears to be working, but is not really working with your longer term goals? Is there something like that in your life right now?