Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Trying Out A New Schedule/Waldorf-Inspired

So the thing about me...a good thing...is that I'm optimistic.

I have really good intentions on actually carrying out plans that I make.

And, in a perfect world, I may actually be able to do just that.

But...that's not really the reality for me.

Usually, I get started on a schedule and then life happens and tears it all apart.

And...as optimistic as I may be at the start....I usually get wore out and just throw in the towel on having anything that resembles much of an organized schedule.

Case in point: for months now, my schedule consisted of: waking up and letting the dogs out and uncovering the bird cage. Then, I would curl up on the couch and either watch a little tv (volume turned alllll the way down to, like, 2, if the little boys and Antonio were still sleeping) or check out Instagram on my phone. Sometimes, if I was feeling really inspired, I'd blog a little.

Then, one by one, the kids would wake up and immediately ask for breakfast. And when I got up to make their breakfast, I'd start a pot of coffee. Then get the big kids started on their school work.

Then...the rest of the day would just whoosh around us in a cloud of unorganized chaos. We read lots of books, did puzzles and played games...but it was never organized in the least. Sometimes we'd do learning worksheets.

Little boys would be fighting and arguing. Begging to watch tv or play their tablets (LeapPad Epics...gifts from Christmas)...I *tried* to implement a "No TV til 5:00" rule....but then, after Christmas, they'd just sit with their tablets and zone out (if I was lucky) or whine and cry and fight if the built-in timers on their tablets went off (I allowed them 2.5 hours of tablet play per day)...and beg for more time to be added onto their daily allotment. I usually caved, just to avoid the whining and yelling. I was a wimp, yo.

But finally, enough is enough. I'm ready for a change and try to tame the beast that is my daily life. ::wink::

I've really been digging the Waldorf way of life and homeschooling.

Even before I knew that it had a name. (thanks YouTube for showing me that it's a real thing and I'm not just some crazy nut who is alone in the world, loving the simple nature-based way of life!!)

A year or so ago, I discovered the beautiful and wise Sarah Baldwin's YouTube channel. I began googling "Waldorf education" and "Waldorf homeschool" and was just head over heels in love!! Sarah stresses the importance of teaching little ones the rhythm of the day & week. She explains how, to little children, days of the week are just abstract words and thoughts. They don't really understand what they mean. So you have to give meaning to them. That makes sense. So this week I decided to try and make a rhythm (schedule, if you will) of our days and weeks.

Here's what I've come up with:

Morning-Evening
(I've yet to figure out an evening schedule yet)
(This schedule is for the little boys...the big kids have their own schedule)
Wake Up
Get Dressed
I make breakfast (it's been oatmeal this week) and start a pot of coffee...and while all that is getting ready, I do a little Circle Time with the boys. 
Breakfast
Then a little Free Play
Then it's StoryTime
Followed by Craft Time
More Free Play
Then we sit down and work on some school work
Then we eat lunch
StoryTime
Quiet Rest Time (1 hour)
Once both boys are awake, we will work on our special Daily Activity.

And that's the end of our "School Day". We allow tv/electronics after 5 pm...but this week it's actually been pushed back until about 6 pm because they've been having so much fun!

They seem to be loving this new rhythm!! There has been SOOOO much less fighting and arguing between the two of them! They are more calm and relaxed throughout the day. I am just amazed at how much of a change I've seen just in the last few days!

Here's a sort-of breakdown/explanation of what the above activities consist of:

Circle Time....today was our first day doing Circle Time. We sat in a circle on the living room floor while the oatmeal was cooking and the coffee was brewing. We sang a couple songs: Itsy Bitsy Spider and Twinkle Twinkle Little Star. Next week, I'd like to also add in a weekly Bible verse that they will recite each morning during Circle Time and should have it memorized by the end of the week! I'd also like to start having them learn classic nursery rhymes (and then have cute coordinating coloring pages!) Many Waldorf families (and I believe schools) will light candles for Circle Time. I like that idea and need to go buy some cute Circle Time candles!

Story Time.... Each boy picks out a few books (usually each boy picks out 2-3 books) and we cuddle on the couch and read them all!

Craft Time.... At the beginning of the school year, I bought each little guy a Craft Book from Abeka. It offers a weekly craft project that (sometimes) corresponds with a Bible verse but usually with the current season/holiday. So we've been doing those (remember the baby Jesus' in a manger we did? And the thumbprint apple trees?) But I also have random crafts, too, like our scenes we did of Jumanji with our stamp sets!

School Time.... I have a few workbooks that I use or free printables from the internet. I've been planning on focusing on learning at least one new letter/number a week, as well as reviewing colors and shapes. Their favorite sit-down school activity is cutting and pasting!! They are getting so good at their scissor skills! We do 2-3 worksheets a day, usually.

That pretty much helps them with a Daily Rhythm.

Now, the Weekly Rhythm:
(I've just got a M-F plan so far...)

The Daily Activity (which we've been doing after Quiet Rest Time) has been a huge hit!

Monday

Sensory Bins (Right now I have 2 plastic shoebox-sized storage boxes filled with dry rice. One box for each boy. I also put a small toy dinosaur or two in each box. I gave them each a fat spoon (the flat-bottomed Asian spoons) and a small bowl. And that's it. They LOVE it!! They played for the longest time, just scooping rice and transferring it to the bowls, to each other's boxes, burying the dinosaurs...they had a blast!! I want to have a variety of sensory bins...one (for each boy) with dry beans, one with chunky wooden beads and some twine (for stringing). I want to dye their rice into rainbow colors to make it more fun!!



Tuesday






Painting! Watercolors, fingerpaints, regular kids paint that you squeeze out little portions for each kiddo. Each week, I want to offer a different kind of paint and let them paint whatever they want!











Wednesday






Stamps! Santa brought them several different boxes of various themed stamps and a few stamp pads and the boys think that they are just the coolest things ever!!












Thursday






Play-Doh!! What kid doesn't love PlayDoh?? I want to buy them a box of tools that they can manipulate the PlayDoh with. Later, I'd love to buy some real clay (the colored kind) and let them try their hands at that.











Friday

Cooking/Baking! Little kids love to help in the kitchen and here's a great way to let them help! I thought they could maybe help me make soup (measure out pasta, broth, water, beans...cutting and measuring veggies)....and there we have lunch or part of dinner! Or some weeks they can bake cookies. Or a cake. The possibilities are endless!

This week's Daily Activty as been mixed up because I didn't have a plan in place at the beginning of the week...but I'm ready to do in that order next week!


A question for other homeschooling moms...or moms with really young children at home: do you have a strict schedule that you stick to each day/week?
I'd also love to hear more sensory box/bin ideas!! What do you do for yours??

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