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    2011-2012 Term One Average Day Chart {Simple Edition}

    September 2, 2011 by Brandy Vencel

    Around this time each year, I usually post a fancy spreadsheet called my Average Day Chart. I’m not doing that this year because I think having times on it would irritate me more than anything else. I have many more variables than last year {when my youngest was still taking a morning nap and I only had one Ambleside student} to juggle, and so I find that having an order of events is enough to keep me sane without having set times to cause me to conclude that we are “behind.” Or something.

    Since it’s tradition, I though I’d share the rhythm of our day this term. This only applies to four days per week. On the fifth day, we alternate co-op with nature walks. I’ll offer explanations along the way, only because I find it helpful when other moms do this. I don’t know about you, but most of my best ideas are really not my own–I take what I see someone else doing and tweak it so it works in our home.

    1: Breakfast/Circle Time

    Since I had my very first baby, I made a commitment to getting up with my husband and serving him breakfast. {Of course, if he arose before 5am, I might rethink this!} Breakfast is usually served shortly after 7am, and my husband only sits with us for a short while before hurrying out the door. In this sense, we have a regular starting time.

    So now you know that this is not the reason why I feel my schedule is more unpredictable than it used to be! It is the human element, as the day goes on, that I cannot box into an exact time.

    And that’s okay.

    As soon as I’m at a place where I can start, we pray and begin Circle Time. I have found that this is the only time of day where O.-Age-Three will sit patiently and listen for a full hour, so my assumption is that this will not be moving to some other place in the day for quite some time.

    2: Chores

    Circle Time lasts about an hour. Sometimes it’s shorter, sometimes it’s longer, but an hour is a good guess. I would like chores to take only 20 minutes, and I think this is reasonable, but I am going to have to do some timer training {again} with those girls! This is where the girls do their basic morning routine: get dressed, make beds, brush hair, brush teeth, and clean the table. They also alternate putting away silverware, emptying the dryer, and retrieving eggs. I get dressed, make my bed, put on my makeup, fold clean clothes, dress O., and so on and so forth. Meanwhile, E. empties the dishwasher, vacuums daily areas {we have a schedule} and tidies up a little. {He is an early riser, so most of the time he is already dressed and beginning his lessons when I awaken.}

    3: Morning Walk

    I really debated whether to not to add this into the morning. I didn’t want to give up my regular exercise, but it is still so hot–and the air quality so bad–in the afternoons, that it was either do it in the morning, or not do it at all. So on the second day of school, I decided we’d just try it and see how it went. What I’ve learned is that the walk minimizes problems with the younger two more than anything else I’ve done. O.-Age-Three holds my hand the whole way, and we talk, so his little love tank is full by the time we return home. Plus, he’s very tired, and there is nothing like tiredness to keep him out of trouble! Q.-Age-Four seems to thrive, walk or not, but I’ve noticed it gives me a chance to talk with her, too. The big kids ride bikes, and I think the exercise after sitting at Circle Time for an hour is beneficial for them, too.

    I count this for PE, by the way.

    Right when we get home, I serve a quick snack. This morning is was a cup of milk and some carrot sticks. It is just a quick something to carry them through until lunch.

    4: Formal Lessons

    E.-Age-Nine has his clipboard, and the majority of his work is independent. Obviously, he has to come to me for narration and discussion. With A.-Age-Six’s lessons still being so short, he rarely has to wait very long for a good time to fit that in. I am training him to not interrupt. When the lesson she is working on is over, he may come in for what he needs.

    I have worked out an alternating order for A. that is generally working: phonics, first reading/narration, math, second reading/narration, writing {letter formation}, poetry. Occasionally, I need to stop a longer reading, do a little math, and then come back to it. Sometimes we add a craft-type activity at the end if she’s in the mood. She is more independent in math than I expected. I thought I’d have to hold her hand through every single exercise, but I find that I explain the concept, and then she is ready to go, as long as I write numbers 0 through 10 at the top of her page so that she remembers how to form them properly.

    E. manages his own alternation, so I have no clue what order he studies in. I know that he tends to have his Bible reading and written narration done–or almost done–before we eat breakfast.

    When A. and E. are both done, I bring Q.-Age-Four in twice per week for phonics and Kumon pages {she likes cutting and folding}. O.-Age-Three has also begun Kumon this year, and he is also averaging about twice per week. Naturally, they bounce in and out of the room I am in while lessons are going, but for the most part they spend this time playing together in the nook–trains, cars, or whatever else they have thought up. They are welcome to sit and listen quietly, but they prefer to run and play.

    5. Lunch and Read Aloud

    All the children play outside while I heat lunch up, and then we eat. When I am done eating, I read aloud {we’re currently reading Pinocchio by Carlo Collodi}. This is one of the only other times when O.-Age-Three will sit and listen to a book! He is not much for sitting.

    In case you are wondering, we eat lunch quite late–12:30pm on average, but sometimes even 1pm.

    6. Naps and Clean Up

    I clear the table, and then put the littles down for nap. While I’m doing that, E. and A. do the lunch dishes {except when they forget, which is rare}. This has been the best thing I ever did. It used to take me an hour to recover from lunch by the time I cleaned up the kitchen, did dishes, and put children to bed. Cutting out dishes has been a lifesaver, and E. and A. work well together now that they have had more practice.

    7. Afternoon Quiet Time

    I wish I could say that we have all of naptime free to pursue individual interests, but that is not true anymore. Now that E. is in Year Four, I find he requires some things here and there in the afternoons. He practices piano, and I offer lessons as he needs them. We do Plutarch {though we hope to sometimes combine Plutarch with our co-op friends–perhaps every-other-week}. We discuss his grammar if we didn’t have time in the morning. Sometimes, we have time to fit Age of Fable or Minn of the Mississippi {both of which I read to him aloud} in the morning, but if we don’t, it goes in the afternoon. And we also do our Visual Latin lessons during this time.

    We are not much for “screen time.” We do not offer our children video games or TV/movies. That just isn’t the culture we desire to build in our family. So when lessons are entirely over, E. and A. play quietly–sometimes together and sometimes separately. If they have the urge to be loud, they must go outside, because other people are still sleeping.

    8. Dinner Prep

    Once naps are over, we’re on to dinner. I’ve discovered that another good way to connect with Q.-Age-Four is to have her help with dinner whenever possible. She loves it, and it is a good time for us to chat. She is the one I’m afraid I’ll lose in the shuffle because she is so low-maintenance, so I am constantly contemplating how to reinforce my relationship with her. She was quite proud of the enchiladas we made yesterday!

    Management Tips

    I thought I’d share a few things that have worked for me over the past few years. They are nothing special, and if YOU have tips, please share them in the comments!

    1. Don’t answer the phone. Unless you are expecting a specific call for a specific purpose, nothing will eat up time like a phone call.
    2. Do the next thing. If I stop and check email as a form of procrastination, I end up using time we needed. It is best for me to just Move On. I do check email when I am waiting on children {like when A. is finishing up her math problems}, but that doesn’t seem to hurt our day the same way.
    3. Stick to the rhythm. One of the reasons I work so hard to get something down on paper is that the fewer decisions I have to make during the day, the better our day goes. Maybe this is just me, but if I have to sit down and decide what to do first, and then what to do next, we just never get going.
    4. Don’t allow interruptions. I mean this as a habit-training sort of thing. For instance: A. is just beginning a narration, and E. barges in saying loudly that he needs help in math. You know what? He just destroyed A.’s narration. She is just beginning, and this is a disaster–she can’t hold her thoughts together for very long yet. I am trying to teach my children that each of them are important, our day has a master plan of sorts, and they need to respect it. Does that mean we don’t have interruptions? No! Acceptable interruptions are plentiful–some people still require assistance in the bathroom, some people need discipline and correction, some people fall down and skin their knee. There is always room for life. But when I train them to respect each other’s lessons, I’m actually making the day smoother. They are taught to listen until they hear a lesson complete, and then address me.
    5. Be fluid. This is what I’m trying to master this year. As little ones come in and out, I am learning to flow back into what we were doing, recovering the lesson with fewer incidents.

    What is your best management tip? And can we see your daily schedule? Put your links in the comments if you have them!

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  • Reply Andrea April 26, 2014 at 11:41 pm

    Loved this post Brandy, I have spent the last few days combing over your blog, hoping from post to post, link to link- Love it, so much good stuff. This post was especially helpful… really appreciated your Management tips! You are so clever and witty, and very, ahem, organized πŸ™‚

    • Reply Brandy Vencel April 27, 2014 at 1:00 am

      Aw, thanks, Andrea!

      For the record, I have to be organized on paper because my brain is so scattered. πŸ™‚

  • Reply Brandy @ Afterthoughts October 2, 2012 at 8:16 pm

    Oh, this is killing me! I just wrote a long response to your comment and now *I* lost it! There must be a problem today on Blogger. I will try again later but I’m out of time…

  • Reply Steve October 2, 2012 at 5:18 pm

    Ok, my computer messed up on me as I was typing, so delete/ignore a partially written comment!
    I had a question about point 4 under things to avoid. How exactly do you “not allow” interruptions? What do you do to train. I have 5 kids, one is Year 2/1 (he still has to work on narration so I have a mush muddle for him as far as which year’s curriculum to use), one is Year 1, one is Year 0, one is a toddler, and one is a newborn. Now, normally (haha, whatever that means), I have workboxes in order which actually does help minimize interruptions as everyone is occupied (due to too many circumstances to explain those are out but not set up this year yet, and I don’t know that they will be the way things are going). But even then, I’d get interruptions, “Look, I did it!” “Can I do something else?” “What does this mean?” “Mommy, she took mine.” Etc. So, you gave an example of one of your interruptions, but not how you train them not to do it. Could you share? Apart from simply repeating the instruction and admonishment over and over . . .I do THAT plenty, I even have resorted to spanking when it’s more than one offense in one day, and nothing seems to stick. Thanks.

  • Reply Brandy @ Afterthoughts September 29, 2011 at 4:16 pm

    ps. Naomi: just so you know, I am unable to leave comments on blogger blogs that have an embedded comment form. I just wanted you to konw that I *do* read what you write, I just can’t say anything about it! πŸ™

  • Reply Brandy @ Afterthoughts September 29, 2011 at 4:11 pm

    Naomi, thank you for sharing all these links! I am going to hop over and look at them today. I’m getting a surprising number of hits on this post, so I love that there are more ideas in the comments for folks to visit and use to get their own creative juices flowing.

  • Reply Naomi September 28, 2011 at 10:35 am

    I love your management points! Here’s a post I did on our YR4 schedule:
    and here’s our daily flow chart:
    and here’s a schedule for meal planning, what I’ve been working on lately:

  • Reply Kansas Mom September 7, 2011 at 12:48 pm

    It’s hard to believe, but I actually wrote a real post about our day: Our Home on the Range: 2011-2012 Average Day Chart…So Far

  • Reply ...they call me mommy... September 6, 2011 at 10:46 am

    I’m new to your blog! πŸ™‚ I’m one of those moms who loves reading others schedules also! Thank you!

  • Reply Phyllis September 5, 2011 at 8:45 am

    Mystie’s question was exactly what I wanted to ask. πŸ™‚

    I’m planning to post about our days soon. Then maybe I’ll come back and link here….

  • Reply Kansas Mom September 2, 2011 at 9:46 pm

    I did away with times on my daily schedule last year. I just keep a list of our lessons for the day (First Son in second grade and First Daughter’s reading and Montessori lessons) and move from one to another as they fit in around life. If necessary, I’ll set First Son to work on something like copy work while I change a diaper or lay Second Son down for a nap. I’m still reading nearly all of First Son’s lessons to him. The few he reads, he reads to me. So I am still very necessary for most of his lessons.

  • Reply Brandy @ Afterthoughts September 2, 2011 at 9:20 pm

    Well…ahem…that is a bit tricky. I have always been a mental composer, so I’m *always* writing when I’m not reading, just in my head. With that said, my husband is getting his master’s degree, and he studies in the evenings. After we spend some time together catching up, he sits down to an hour or two of reading or writing, and I do the same. I really don’t know where it would fit were he not in school! In fact, a lot may chance in our lives when he is done with his program {he’s about halfway through right now}.

  • Reply Mystie September 2, 2011 at 9:17 pm

    So what I want to know is where your writing and reading time fit into your average day. πŸ™‚

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