First, you need to know, every kids is SO different. Katie is very laid back, relaxed, and doesn't like a strict schedule. That isn't to say she doesn't need one, though. She'll spend all day laying in the sunlight playing with her sisters, if I let her.
Danny, however, is VERY rigid. He absolutely craves complete structure to his day. It REALLY messes him up when something interrupts our schedule. He needs to learn flexibility. Desperately.
Now, I am a procrastinator. (As seen by the fact that I've been meaning to put these organizational posts out for something like 6 weeks.) I will let things pile up until they're completely unmanageable, and then the chaos robs me of the meek and quiet spirit we're called to have and strive for, as women of God.
Sean and the twins, they could care less, for the most part. Sean does do better when he has many different things planned through the day, but he's also a very opinionated 3-year-old. Yesterday, for example, I just could not get him to sit still and read during read aloud time with him. It helps him to learn discipline, that life isn't fair (an important lesson to learn!), and that sometimes we just have to do things we don't want to do. The twins are learning security through routine.
So, here's what we do: First, I use a system based pretty much off of the book Managers of Their Homes: A Practical Guide to Daily Scheduling for Christian Homeschool Families by Steve and Terri Maxwell of Titus2.com. The Maxwell family have 8 children who have all pretty much been homeschooled. They have WONDERFUL resources for raising and training godly children, organization, scheduling, homeschooling, and general encouragement. It's a wonderful website, and I highly recommend it.
When you order MOTH, you get a chart and colored little papers to get stuck up on it, to organize your day. (If you've ever watched the Duggar's TV show, it's the same color coded system Michelle Duggar uses.) This works REALLY well when you're just starting out. You're able to switch and change up your blocks and activities, very quickly.
Our problem with that, is that they kept falling off. ((rolls eyes)) Or getting torn off by little hands. Then, when we were painting the living room, the chart got some sort of mess on it, and that was that. I tossed the chart. BUT... I need something that I can tell at a glance who's doing what when, and that the kids can tell what they need to do and when.
I opened up Exel,and came up with this:
It's basically the same thing as a MOTH chart, without all the little squares to fall off. :) Each child is color coded, and my schedule is the yellow one. It took 2 pages to print, but I cut it to fit into my laminater, which only fits just slightly larger than 8"x11". The hours on the side of the page start at 6 am, when I get up, and go through 10:00 pm, broken up into half hour increments. I also put each of the kids' daily schedules into their school binders. You can find a post on that and see that example here.
EVERYTHING is scheduled into the days. Every school subject, chore time, even playing with their siblings. Now, it looks at first glance that they don't have any free time, but this isn't entirely true. Remember Katie, my dawdler? She could easily take 2 hours for a 15 minute spelling assignment, if I let her. Instead of scheduling how long a subject should take (nothing they do should take over 1/2 an hour), I give them one-half of an hour for each subject. If they finish early, they have the choice of either using the rest of the time for free time, or going onto the next subject and knocking that out, too. Danny usually gets all of his schoolwork done long before lunch. Katie, not so much, but she's learning. Once their school and chores are done for the day, they're welcome to have free time to do what they want. The only things they have to do at scheduled times are meals and chores (they do chores after every meal).
Scheduling makes our days run SO much smoother. Just like in a well-organized home, everything has a place and everything in it's place. It's the same with our schedules. Everything has a time, and everything in it's time.