During our homeschooling day yesterday, while the kids were working on some projects, I glanced at our weekly rhythm chart pinned up on the fridge.
Torn from a notebook and splattered with coffee, it lacked the pizzazz that I desired to keep me fired up and on task throughout our day.
*A rhythm? As in: a schedule? But wait, Rachel! I thought you were unschoolers!"
Um. Sort of. Ish. Our family has never fit perfectly into any homeschooling category. And though I've danced around the labels for a long time, I think we're more "interest-led eclectic life learners" (or something like that).
That being said, what we do looks a lot like unschooling for much of the day.
But I also think parenting – more than living out a the details of one labeled style of anything – comes down to dropping the labels altogether and figuring out what works best for your family during each season of learning and growth.
And right now a predictable rhythm that includes a little time gathered around the table working on spelling, grammar, math, and writing is a good fit.
And all of that is a lot for an unschooling-minded mama to keep track of.
Enter the rhythm chart.
I made several when the kids were little and I identified a lot with Waldorf education. But it's been ages since we've used one. It was time.
I dug around in the craft cabinet and surfaced with the very last full sheet of scrapbooking paper (which conveniently matched my kitchen). And as the kids worked away on their projects I set to work as well, transferring the details about our day and our week to the page.
In the end I included all of the details that Pete and I like to keep track of each week in an effort to provide the kids with a bit of consistency and ease as they move between homeschooling days with me and with Pete. The presence of this chart means that the kids are accountable for keeping track of what they are supposed to do each day, and so are Pete and I.
Also, we'll be much less likely to miss a lesson or forget to return the library books when it's all laid out so clearly. (Or that's the theory anyway.)
Is it perfect?
Did we just meet? Of course it's not perfect. It's a bit off-center and in one place I cut and glued a new scrap of paper over the top when I made a mistake. It adds to the charm, I tell you.
So what's included?
Just the things my family needs to stay on track. If you make your own what you include would be very personal to your family and might look nothing like mine. In fact, it's not just for homeschoolers! Any family could benefit from a rhythm chart of their days or weeks, I suspect. Here is what I chose to include:
A rough rhythm for our days – when we do farm chores, focused homeschooling, projects, free-form learning, meals, and the rest broken down by time.
There is a list of what the kids and I normally dig in on during our homeschooling day so that Pete knows for his days what they've been up to with me, and visa versa.
Part of our homeschooling plan is that our kids are involved in cooking a dinner at least once a week. We'll soon bump that up to two or more nights a week, but first we're going to find our groove with this plan. Also, because Pete and I both work part-time we share dinner responsibilities. The upshot? No 5 PM surprises.
On top of daily responsibilities like farm chores and dishes, my kids each do a "plus-one" chore that differs by day. But a different chore each day is hard to remember, even for me. This list will help the kids keep track without help or reminders (theoretically).
Special Days & Lessons
Like many homeschooling families, every day is a little different. There is the day we go to the library, lessons in town, gatherings we attend. Putting the list of what happens when right on our list means we're much less likely to miss something that we should have remembered.
If your children are non-readers, a chart like this one (that I made for Sage when he was small) might be just the ticket! Instead of felt you could craft it out of sturdy paper.
And with that, It's almost 8:00. And looking at my chart I've got some things to do!