I’ve discovered our priorities and passions, I’ve planned out a workable routine…it’s time to dump it on the kids, right? Surprise them one Monday morning after a relaxing Christmas break or summer holiday? No! That’s the fast-road to burn-out for me and my children!
Kids like warnings just like adults do–it helps them to get ready for what’s coming. A day or two before we start back up, I let my kids know how our first day will go. I like to start school gradually. We don’t do every subject the first day. Instead, I like to start with something old and something new. The “old” thing is the easy part–something the child can do independently while the other child and I figure out a new curriculum–how is it organized, how long does it really take (versus how long I think it will take), and so on. I give us time to warm up to new books and new ways of doing things, and alternate that with something that’s familiar. This year I started with math, reading, and history. Math and reading were familiar, history was different.
After a couple of days I add on one or two more subjects, again something old and something new if possible. When they kids were young, I took up to 4 weeks to get into our full schedule. Now I might only take a week or two.
I also start back gradually after Christmas, spring break, or other shorter vacations. I might take only 1-2 days or even up to a week to get back to full speed. Judge your own and your children’s needs as you see what needs to be done. (Sometimes what we need is a day to unpack and get the house in order, instead of jumping into school.)
New schedules will need to be tweaked. Maybe the order I’ve scheduled things just won’t work. Maybe my daughter can’t work on a certain subject while I work with her brother, because she needs my help too often. Maybe my son needs things divided up differently–I found that to be the case this year.
My pattern is to start with the things that require my attention and work towards the independent subjects, but my son needs the longer, independent subjects divided up more. So he does history on his own, and then spends one on one time with me. Then he works on math–sometimes with my help, sometimes without; and then science on his own. After lunch he might go for a walk, and then do spelling with me, then do some more independent work, then finish up with guitar. Each year we have ordered things a bit differently, depending on the kids’ and my needs.
Starting slowly allows me to see what order works best for all of us; gradually adding in subjects helps us all to get the flow of our day. I ask the kids for lots of feedback here, and we restructure until we hit on a good routine for all of us. So…when you start back after Christmas break, expect to take a day or two to ease into things, especially if you are making changes.
Next week: Organization: A Typical Day