Rhythm Builders

Planning and structure has been in my thoughts quite a lot lately.
One of my latent fears about home educating the Oh Waily children is that I will miss something important out and my children will be left wanting because of it.  I don’t want to create an environment that is rigid and super-structured just to appease my fears though.  If I was to do that I might as well send them off to school.  I want to capitalise on the inherent curiosity that most children have for as long as possible and allow their interests to drive their learning.

The problem I can foresee with having a free-flowing feeling to the day is that it can slide into nothingness without some sort of grand plan to underpin it.  So I have been reading and reading and reading about how other people deal with this interplay of flow and structure while teaching their children at home.  Whew.  What a range.  From sitting down to workbooks to simply playing and living to everything in between.  Seriously.  There is so much variation that it almost makes my head spin.

I do not feel comfortable with the extreme end of the Unschooling approach to educating children, so we need some sort of structure to hang our educational hat on.  I just don’t want it to be too rigid.  I am a structured sort of person and this can get the better of me sometimes.  See that badge in the sidebar – the one that asks if you are a Penelope?  Well, I’m one.  So lists, structure, planning and trying to be organised are all part of who I am.  There is no point in fighting it.  My responsibility is to keep my urge for structure under control and serving the children’s needs.

While I was pondering the mechanics of achieving this balance I picked up Simplicity Parenting and read the chapter on rhythm.  There was my answer. Build rhythms* into our days, weeks and months.  Make events happen on a regular schedule, but don’t be a slave to the schedule.  Do simple things like have regular activity days, regular meal days and things of that nature.  The flow of life is grounded around these signposts.  The children will know what to expect, and come to anticipate the next regular ‘X’ day.

In our house we already do this with “Pancake Day”.  This would be Sunday mornings where we have pancakes or crepes for breakfast.  It is a signpost and an anticipated part of the week.  It is also inspiration for creating a home education rhythm.
We also have existing daily rhythms, including the two hours at daycare in the morning, as guides.  Perhaps marrying up the loose structure with goals and outcomes will not be quite the struggle that I thought it would be.  Or am I counting chickens.  Only time will tell.

What rhythms do you build in your children’s lives?  Are they strictly followed or allowed to flow loosely?

* one suggestion that he makes and which we have started to do, is to ask everyone what their favourite part of the day has been.  As we eat our dinner, everyone takes a turn and tells what bits of the day they enjoyed the most.  It doubles as a gratitude builder, which is lovely.

Today in history: 1694 – Voltaire was born. (French philosopher)

It was so hard to choose which quote to use.  So here are a selection.

Behind every successful man stands a surprised mother-in-law.

Better is the enemy of good.

I do not agree with what you have to say, but I’ll defend to the death your right to say it.

I hate women because they always know where things are.

In light of the fact that we are due to go to the polls this week, here is a comment on politics that sums things up neatly.

An ideal form of government is democracy tempered with assassination.

In general, the art of government consists of taking as much money as possible from one class of citizens to give to another.
– Voltaire

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