I had a comment, or actually a question, in my previous schedule post about how I "stick" to the plan. First, I'll have to admit that I am a very flexible person when it comes to scheduling and I also tend to move lots of things around. But when you look at the bare bones of it all, I do in fact stick to the schedule.
I am not a type A personality. Sticking to planning and schedules is something that I have to really work hard at. But here are some tips on how I've managed to do it, despite my scatter brain!
Make your schedule a habit, but start small.
1. Create a morning routine.
When Marco started kindergarten last year, I made the realization that as I had more kids to homeschool, I was going to encounter problems if I did not adhere to a schedule. I started small, by first creating a morning routine. With the help of the book, Managers of their Chores, I worked on getting the kids used to doing a morning routine. We used pre-reader chore cards and they would carry their ChorePacks with them until their morning routine was done. For us, the routine was simple. 1. Wake up, brush teeth, and wash face. 2. Make your bed. 3. Fold pajamas and place under pillow. 4. Get dressed. 5. Pick up room. 6. Short morning prayer. It took about 2 months before all the kids (then ages 5, 3, and 2) had formed this as a habit and they no longer needed to carry around their chore cards.
2. Create an eating schedule.
As we were establishing a morning routine, I created an eating schedule. Snack time at 10-10:30 am, lunch at noon, snack again at 3pm, and finally dinner at 5:30pm. This schedule has only changed on days that we happened to be out on trips or other rare occasions. Otherwise, it is the same day in and day out. So now I had 2 habits created...morning routine and eating schedule!!!
3. Insert nap times and quiet times into the schedule.
Nap times and quiet times are important for every mother's sanity. Not only do they provide a quiet break for the kids, but this is an especially good time to do one-on-one teaching with older children. A key to making quiet times work is to separate they kids. Although my children share a room, I split them up. One in each bedroom, while I do school with my oldest. In the beginning, I had problems with kids coming out and asking, "Is quiet time over yet?" This was driving me insane, so I invested in the Time Tracker. My kids didn't know how to tell time yet, so this was a huge help (and still is!!); and it stopped the battle between trying to keep them all in their rooms until time was up. Once the light turns red, you are free to go!!
4. Schedule school subjects.
You will notice that I put this as the final step in creating a successful schedule. The reason for this was more laziness on my part, but it turned out to be the most helpful. Since I was just learning the ropes of homeschooling, I wasn't sure how much time any particular subject was going to take. I also wasn't as strict with getting school done at a particular time, because at that point it was all just kindergarten and preschool work with the kids. What I did know, however, is how long everything else on my schedule took (I knew lunch break was for an hour, quiet time was another hour, etc.). With all my other habits in place, I could just plug school into all the blank spots on my schedule! After much trial and error, I also learned to evenly distribute the work throughout the day. My kids need breaks. They are not the "sit at your desk and do your lessons until they are done" kind of kids. I learned this as we went along. So I scheduled our most difficult and longest subject first (in this case math), followed by subjects with shorter lessons. You learn to play with your school schedule as you get to know how your kids work best, and this is where being flexible is important.
Since many homeschool moms don't school during the summer, it is a perfect time to start implementing the new habit of a schedule. Starting with chore routines and then making your way down to school lessons was what worked for our family. I can be the first to tell you that not every day will be perfect. Sometimes math takes longer; sometimes kids get sick; and sometimes you just feel like jumping out a window! But with the basic habits formed, it is easy to jump right back in the next day!!