I continue my quest to organize our school year. I'm waiting for some more books, so detailed school planning is put on hold. Instead I spent some time working on other schedules... household jobs, how the day will flow from activity to activity, the daily life-stuff. I find if I can get a handle on the household systems, then adding in schoolwork is much easier.
Last year I tried something new with a rotating schedule. There were five jobs, five children and each day the jobs would rotate. This was a success because the unpopular jobs only came around every five days. This year I changed it to add another child (H.), so I needed to add another job. Now we will have a six day schedule which means that the days will remain consistent and should be a bit easier to keep track of.
The bigger Saturday cleaning jobs have been switched around between children so that they get a change, plus I've added G. and L. into the line up. The little girls will be sweeping the back stairs, with P.'s help. (Helping the little girls do their job has become one of hers.) The sweeping job is one of the great 'first jobs' because it's not vital to the house seeming clean and it's pretty easy to do. I think they will be excited about having an assignment... and K. will be even happier not to have it any longer. It's been his assigned job for three years now and he can finally do it unassisted.
Our weekday schedule is looking pretty much the same, with a couple of exceptions. Because some of my children need food and sensory input on a fairly regular schedule, I have decided to add those things in both so that they are not forgotten and with the hopes that by scheduling them the battles that can sometimes arise will abate. There is something about a schedule written down on a piece of paper that makes it more authoritative. You can't argue with a piece of paper, after all. So, mid-morning we will have a brief protein snack and some physical activity. I'm going to plan out the type of snacks and the type of activity (keeping it varied) so that everyone knows what's happening and it removes it a step from me telling people what to do.
The other big change is to re-institute a household quiet time after lunch. This is one of those really smart things I used to do all the time, but over the course of years and adding children, it fell by the wayside. And I really need it by the time 1 o'clock rolls around. (I think my children need it, too, they just don't know it.) It will create a bit a quiet margin in our lives that has been missing this summer. I know that this is going to be a fairly steep learning curve, though. My plan is to eventually have 1 1/2 hours of quiet time a day. I know that for most of my children, entertaining themselves quietly for that long won't be possible at first and we're going to have to work up to it. I think we'll start at 45 minutes and work up.
I am also going to go back to having quiet time boxes. I used this idea when M. was young and she had quiet time for years past the napping stage using one. It is just a box where I have put a bunch of quiet activities that only come out for that hour or hour and a half. When quiet time is done, the boxes go away. I am enlisting TM and D. in stocking the boxes with the hopes that by the time we begin they will be on board with the whole concept.
When instituting a new plan, it helps to leave nothing to chance. So, I'm also assigning people places for quiet time. I am really appreciating my big house for this because I think I have a way to keep each person in a separate room. For those sharing, I have the youngest person in the room on their beds, then the older ones are spread out between other bedrooms (M.'s, the guest room, and mine) and the living room. This way, I don't have to hear arguing about who gets which spot and it will help the whole thing become a habit.
The last new part of our daily schedule is the transition between quiet time and the rest of the afternoon. This summer I discovered that asking children to go around the block in between activities has really helped with transitions, especially if one of those activities involved a screen. I'm going to use this tactic to transition from quiet time and send everyone around the block. I figure this will work in all but the worst weather since most of them don't mind being out in rain or snow.
I still have a bit of specific planning to do, but this feels like a huge hurdle to have behind me. And for those of you who wonder when we are starting school work, I'm thinking September 11. I could possibly be ready by then. Next week I plan on taking advantage of the really empty museums. The first week public schools are in session is the absolute best time to go because they are all so empty. It's wonderful to have an entire museum to yourself.!