First, I just have to face up to the fact that there is no perfect schedule. Life will always get in the way and that's OK Being the perfectionist that I am, I just have to learn that my beautiful and thoughtfully crafted schedule is never going to be followed perfectly. Second, I'm allowed to change the schedule. Even if I spent hours putting it together, it may not work as I thought it would and I can do something about it. (As opposed to my first response which is to ditch it altogether.) Third, I have been going about constructing my schedules all wrong. In the past, I would figure out times and who was going to be occupied when and then fit the content into the slots. I have realized that the whole process works better, makes more sense, and will ultimately be more doable if I focus on content first and then divide it up into a workable time frame. This has been a huge idea shift for me and it makes so much more sense that I want to slap myself upside the head. And last, I have to admit that we get more done when I have it all planned out. Last fall I did take the time to plan out what we were doing when and though we didn't follow it completely faithfully, upon looking back I was amazed at how much we covered. My idea was to do the second semester over Christmas, but you can imagine how well that worked. Or didn't. We still learned things, but my illusions that I function better improvising through my days were dashed. It took too much thinking on the spur of the moment which I just am not as good at as I think I am.
So, after all that, what are our days going to look like? First thing after breakfast, all the school-age types will begin their work. B. and A. work independently for all or most of the morning and P., D., and TM have the first hour to do their independent work. During that time, I will have time with the three littles. Even for this age (or especially for this age because they are the most likely to be missed), I have activities planned out as well as special toys to be brought out on a rotating schedule. It feels more like a battle plan than anything. These three are busy, busy people and unless I am very purposeful about how to keep them occupied, life will quickly descend into chaos. I've put together some new preschool activities that I will blog about later in the week.
The next hour is for me to work with those who need individual help and to correct work. Would you believe that for the first time ever I have actually scheduled in time to correct work? No wonder it would pile up and I would spend an hour correcting endless math pages. While I'm doing that, the middles will either have free time, work on other projects, or play with a chosen activity from the resource area. The three youngest will be gated into the kitchen with me and given their toy bin for the day.
The last hour of the morning is for our group work. Two days a week we will study ancient Egypt and the other two days will be lighthouses in the fall and the California gold rush in the winter. I have purposefully left the spring empty because we will be travelling to bring H. home at some point and will probably need it for catch-up. (Fridays are our history co-op days, so I don't have anything scheduled.) At lunch, I read from the chapter book we are currently on and afternoons are either free time or other outside activities, such as theater.
My two compulsive weeks of thinking about all this have paid-off. I now have a folder for each child, complete with his or her own schedule, list of readings and assignments, and any big projects or writing assignments that will be worked on. For myself, I have each child's schedule, plus a list of readings and projects for our group work, and the preschool and toy rotation schedule. My goal is to not have to think when we begin school each morning. I've already done the hard work of how things fit together and match up, of when we will schedule a day off to play games, and when we will watch a movie as it fits in with our lessons. Instead of scrambling each morning, I'll open up my folder, see what we need to do, and proceed in quiet serenity. Really.