Also, if you really looking for more nitty-gritty details beyond what I have here, you might take a look at my scheduling post from last year. You'll find that they're very similar. :) I have changed bits here and there, but our routine really is roughly the same. You can also take a look at my Year 5 and Form I plans from earlier this fall for more information.
As usual, my organizational strategy consists of a series of paper forms that keep our home humming along:
:: A Weekly Routine / Average Day Schedule / Average Day Chart. I put a little more time into forming our weekly routine this year since I added another student and wasn't sure how I would fit it all in. We follow this time table roughly on the days that we are home.
Why schedule down to the quarter hour when I'm a mom with lots of littles in need of flexibility? Because it gives me assurance that it is possible to meet all our goals for the week: there can be short lessons, outside time, chores, and free time, all without chaos or stress, if I'm inclined to stick to this. This schedule provides an order to rest in and a set of guideposts on which to peg my day. For example, I plan math and copywork with my Form I kids first thing in the morning and aim to stop for prayers and breakfast at 8:30. I don't care what order we do math and copywork in, and I'm changing diapers, pouring milk, and snuggling littles during that block too. But I have a guideline that keeps me from overdoing morning work while holding me accountable so that we're not left with unexpected to-dos at the end of the day.
That said, I built ample margins into our routine. Not listed on here are bathroom breaks, stops to switch out the laundry, feeding the baby, and so on -- those happen within the school blocks. That means my kids are actually schooling for less time than this suggests. So in one sense it is representative of our assignments and our time table, but in another sense we are much more flexible than an "average day schedule" can express.
:: My Weekly Checklist. This has all the work that I am responsible for. That includes all my Form I kids' work, since I don't require them to be independently responsible for anything but chores. And it includes a small bit of my Year 5 kids' work, since I do require independence of them. Listed here is the Year 5 work we do together, and then the rest of their work is on their weekly checklist. Last year I had everything on mine, but this year, it made more sense to streamline my own lists so that they represent what I personally am responsible for. I just print out a new one of these each week and spend a bit of time during my Weekly Planning Session filling in any blanks and making any adjustments.
:: My Term charts. In the past, I typed the assignments for each book for each week onto my weekly checklist. Now that I'm juggling three years, the extra time that takes isn't worth it to me. So I just have the book listed and I look at the actual reading assignment in one of two places: our schedule bookmarks (in every assigned book) or my term charts (in my school folder, and the Big Kids have copies in their binders too). These are taken from the AmblesideOnline website and adjusted for our needs -- they have editable Word documents at the top of each year's booklist that I download and tweak for our terms. So easy!
:: My kids' checklists. My Year 5 students have a robust weekly assignment sheet that our homeschool couldn't run without. It lets them know what to do and suggests when to do it. I divided it into days this year because now that they're managing their own time, it is a help to them to know how much to get done on a given day rather than confronting an overall list of weekly items. And they also don't need as much flexibility as I do since they're not taking care of the baby, working around naptimes, and such. (As you can see above, my checklist is not broken into days. I need the flexibility since I'm managing the littles.)
My Year 2 student also has an assignment sheet, simply because she begged for one. ;) I think it's probably a good habit for her anyway, as she is more productive and cheerful when she sees what needs to be done. But it's not technically necessary since she does all her schoolwork with me. (My Year 1 son doesn't have one, though now he's asking too. Maybe next year.)
:: A Pre-Reading and Planning Sheet. This is the bit which I have gotten lots of questions about this fall since I have been posting about my weekly planning session on Instagram. It's going to get its own post next week. Lots of details to come! Simply put: this is what I use to structure my weekly planning session (for both school and home) and my weekly meeting with my Year 5 kids. I also keep my reading notes on the back.
:: Last, our Chore Charts. We adjust chores every summer so that we can iron out the kinks before the school year rolls around. The weekly schedule is posted on the fridge for easy reference. Yes, this is a very thorough list. Yes, it needs to be that way for things to run smoothly! Everyone knows his job and things get done much more efficiently. When I didn't spell things out so clearly, I was constantly sorting squabbles, bossing around, and just generally having to micro-manage. Now the chart micro-manages for me while I play with the baby. ;) I also built several inspection times into my day for when I'm noticing my kids are slipping in their habits and need some oversight. And that "Bi-Weekly Chores" list at the bottom is for a bi-weekly slot in our chore schedule and for assigning extra chores for misbehaving kids. (Let's just say I have to use those more often with some kids than with others. Ahem.)
These are the paper plans that help me hold myself accountable and let my kids know what to expect. Our household couldn't run without them!
But I can't forget my usual caveat: the truth about organization is that there is no one solution to your organizational problems. Effective organizational strategies have to do with knowing yourself and your family really well: your needs, your home, how your mind works, how much you can handle, how your kids thrive, your personality, your goals, your vision of success. If you start there (rather than with these forms here!), you'll be much more likely to find a plan that works for you.
Still, I share our plans because I think examples can be very helpful and give curious moms a place to start. And because I enjoy gleaning ideas from others! :) I hope this gives you a glimpse into one way of structuring a busy home life.
Back with lots of pre-reading, planning, and meeting chat soon!