Consistency and predictability give a sense of calm, security, and peace. And while we might like to believe and may often feel as though we are in control of much of our lives, in reality we are not. Much in this universe is out of our control and our future lives ultimately remain unknown.
According to the Centre for Studies on Human Stress there are four factors that make life stressful: novelty, unpredictability, threat to the ego, and sense of control. Consider the current situation related to COVID-19. The situation is like nothing we have ever experienced before, we had no way of knowing it would occur to this extent, it threatens our safety and competence, and we feel as though we have little control. This causes stress, fear, and anxiety.
Bringing awareness and acceptance to the fact that we have relatively little control over our future and the future of our children can allow us to identify and take ownership of what IS in our control. Therefore, we can create conditions in our home that help one another find harmony, direction, and calm.
One way that we can reduce these feelings of loss of control and uncertainty is by creating a rhythm or routine. Children especially like and need some predictability, consistency, and pattern. It increases calm and reduces the amount of so-called craziness that can ensue!
Here is How We Create Rhythm In Our Home
My family’s approach to education is experiential and natural. What this means is that we follow our children’s interests, learn through living, and there is no set curriculum. The kids do not need to learn anything at any given moment if they are not interested at all. While there are many ways in which to homeschool, this is the one that we believe in. It aligns best to our mission and vision for our family.
One thing we like about it is that it gives us time. Time to dig deeper into current topics of interest, time to bask in the sunlight a little bit longer if we feel, and time to extend play or rest as needed.
So, instead of focusing on a plan, I create a rhythm for the days, weeks, months, and years. Unlike a schedule that is bound by time, a rhythm functions independent of time. It allows for flexibility and spontaneity which supports our creativity, self direction, and higher order thinking. When we want to read, we read, when we want to eat, we eat. You get the idea!
How do we create this rhythm? Our family rhythm will often change by season. So, each season we sit down and loosely plan how we might spend our days.
- Vision and Values
Discuss values and priorities. We value nature so connection to the outdoors is always a priority. While we certainly spend more time outside in the warmer weather, we always get outside for fresh air, walks, and other adventures even on the coldest days. Discuss learning styles and preferences. What helps us all thrive? What do we need in our home so that it can operate in the way we want? My one daughter prefers to read and write in a quiet setting so we have a place for her each day to read comfortably and quietly in private. We talk about what we are interested in learning and doing. We make a list or draw what we want to learn, what we might be wondering about, and what we want to explore. Of course we won’t get to all of the things on the list nor will the kids be required to, but it serves as a guide moving forward.
- Anchor Points
Identify anchor points. In order for your days to feel rhythmic, there needs to be consistency and predictability. Use anchor points first. Anchor points are those things that happen day after day. Think in terms of meal time, self care, and sleep. In the morning we will eat breakfast and get ready for the day (brush teeth, hair, dress). In the afternoon we rest and read. In the evening we eat dinner and get ready for bed. These are consistent no matter the season. These are very important because they will help your lives feel grounded.
- Reflect Upon Nature and Biological Needs
We reflect upon the seasons and talk about how life changes for us with each new season. In summer our days are spent outside much more than winter. We travel to the beach often and frequent our community pool some weekdays or nights. Our interests surround the outdoors, water, beach, etc. As opposed to the winter where we are indoors more often, time spent more with constructing, socio-dramatic play, reading, art, and listening to music. Consider also how winter is a time for more rest and recovery and summer is often more engaging and exploratory. This can be seen in our day to day as well. Our bodies naturally need to sleep, rest and refuel then explore, communicate, and engage. At breakfast we refuel, then play, refuel again at lunch, play some more, rest in quiet space in the afternoon, play, refuel with dinner, then sleep at night. It becomes an alternating pattern of rest, engage, rest, engage.
- Write It Out – Smooth It Out
Make a visualization that is meaningful and makes sense to everyone in the family. Then, work out the kincks and revise as needed. You might find the typical trouble spots include transition times such as cleaning up, getting out the door, or bedtime. To address these areas more directly take time to consider how you can make them more rhythmic. For example, in getting ready for bed, consider all that needs to be done- bath, dry off, pjs, brush teeth, read, tuck in- and be sure that you start doing these steps in the same order every night. As you move through the process, find ways to stay connected with your children as you go along. If you can move through these with patience and calm then your children will begin to imitate you. You can use songs, poems, rhymes, or little games to keep engaged if you have little ones at home.
The beautiful thing about homeschooling is that you have the flexibility and freedom to choose how you spend your days. If there happens to be an unusually warm weather day in early spring, then we can get in the car and travel to the beach on a whim. Or, we can spend extra time investigating the insects that just began to make their appearance in early spring.
This rhythm is a tool for you and your family. It will help you to better connect with one another and to create a safe home built on respect, nurishment, and growth.
I would love to help you and your family find a rhythm that works for you and support you along your homeschool journey!