Friday, October 10, 2014
Rhythm vs Schedule
I have been having an interesting email conversation over the last week or so with a mom interested in homeschooling, and more so, in our days here at our home. I shared some of my thoughts about homeschooling, and our daily rhythm. As our conversation grew there was difficulty in understanding how I keep to a rhythm. In her mind our day to day rhythm was set out in what I call a schedule format, with specific times for everything. This is in fact very far from the truth.
We follow a very specific rhythm in our home, but it is not a schedule. For us, rhythm refers to the flow of our days. And really, it is not only our days that have a rhythm, but we also have weekly, monthly and yearly rhythms. So just how does it work. We have "anchors" in our day, these include our morning routine, our meal times, and our evening bedtime routine. These happen at pretty much the same times each day, and anchor our days. They are the foundation of our days, and from these each day flows.
Our homeschool days include lots of free play, a circle and story time, a nature walk, reading, sometimes handwork, baking or water colour painting, outdoor play, and of course meals and snacks. There might be a craft worked in somewhere, or some letter writing/drawing to penpals, and there is always time spent drawing, playing games, and tidying our home. What there isn't is a set time for all of this to occur. After breakfast, once Reece and his little friend have helped clear the table, they run off for a little free play time while I tidy up and do the dishes. Once I am done, I check in on them. If they are playing well, I let them keep playing, if for whatever reason they are not playing well, I start to sing our song to let them know circle time is starting. I have not set a time that circle time must start, we just go with the flow, and I observe the kids and follow their lead. Our nature walk is the same. Some days we are out for half an hour, other days we could be out there for over an hour. I usually throw a little something in my pocket for them to eat, a banana or something simple, so if we get delayed, we have a snack to eat, before heading home for a bigger snack. The rest of our day together continues in the same way, flowing from one activity to another. There is a definite plan for each day, but I am not a slave to the clock, although based on our meal and snack times, which are eaten around the same time each day, I do have an idea of when I want certain things to happen.
For us, rhythm is a guide, helping us move through the day with ease, and for the most part, calm and peace. There is predictability for the kids in that they can trust what each day will bring, and with that trust they can fully sink into their imaginative play and activities.
We chatted a bit about what our non-homeschool days look like, the weekends for example, and the truth is the anchors in our day...mornings, meal times and evening bedtimes help make our weekends flow as well. The morning and evening anchors bookend our days, starting and finishing our days as we normally do, and our mealtime anchors create times for us to gather during the day to check in with each other and chill. These anchors give us freedom to do things together as a family, and also to be a little more spontaneous when things come up that we might like to do, while still offering the predictability that is so important, not only for Reece, but for us too.
For me, rhythm and schedule are two very different things, but for some it can be hard to understand the difference. I think if we look to Mother Nature, we can really see how rhythm and schedule differ. The schedule would say that fall should be here on September 21, but the rhythm of Mother Nature is often different. She flows between fall like days, and summer like days as she slowly shifts from summer to fall. The calender may say fall, but we were having summer like days here last week. This week we are definitely experiencing fall in all its beauty, with a bit of chill on the side. Nothing is set in stone with Mother Nature, she just flows, with grace and beauty through the year. My hope is that our days flow in much the same way.