Our weekly rhythm changes depending on the season, the kids current extra-curricular activities and the needs of our family at any given time.
I shared in my recent post about how to cultivate a family culture of inspired learners how it is so helpful to have deliberate conversations where we ask our children what they are interested in. Similarly, it’s important to ask ourselves and our children questions that can help us get clear about our needs and rhythms.
Some questions that can inspire insight and conversation include:
What do you like your weeks to look and feel like?
What are your priorities?
What skills do you want to improve?
What do we need more time for?
What are we doing too much of (if anything)?
What are you working towards that needs regular practice?
How much down time do we need?
What are our current commitments (dance, soccer, speech and language therapy, etc)?
For us, we have so far always agreed that two meets with our unschool group a week suits us well. We also value time with cousins so try to schedule that in fortnightly.
So how do we create a weekly rhythm that meets the ever changing needs of our family which still allows the flexibility and freedoms that we value as unschoolers?
For us, this has meant we have somewhat of a ‘looping rhythm’ for our home days. What this serves as is a reminder to me of things to remind and invite my kids to do (all of which are their own ideas and priorities!) I’m kind of like a personal assistant helping them remember what their goals are, and how we can make them happen.
I use a phone app called MinimaList to keep track of our weekly ‘looping rhythm’. I really love the simple design of it and having digital lists works best for me. I can check off things with a simple swipe and un-check them at the end of the week to start again.
Our looping rhythm is super flexible and some weeks we do almost all of it in the first two days (Monday and Tuesday are often two of our home days) while other weeks we don’t do several of the things on the list. It’s not a schedule – nothing on it is written in stone. It’s simply a reminder of current needs, priorities and interests.
Our current looping schedule looks like this:
Because we are new to using Masterpiece Society, we have been using it more than once a week! The girls especially are loving it and it’s become a bit of a habit to do art together when Cameron and Mike (hubby) are at soccer. Science experiments typically only happen once a fortnight on opposite week to when we see their cousins (who also homeschool).
Other things that have been on the list in the past which aren’t at the moment include: independent reading time, musical instrument practice, Japanese practice (for Cameron), writing in journals, handcrafts, baking, gardening and stretching practice. This doesn’t mean these things don’t happen (baking for example happens almost every week especially for poetry teatime) but that it’s not a current priority that we are trying to keep track of.
I also use Google Calendar which I input anything I need to remember – appointments, therapy, outschool classes, extra-curricular activities, meets and play dates. I colour code each thing so that I can see easily at a glance what our month looks like. I set each reminder with a timer for 30 minutes so I have time to organise what I need to (for example: time to make sure our ipad is charged for speech and language therapy (SALT) or that Cameron has his soccer uniform ready.)
I do NOT do the above because I’m super organised or strict but for the exact opposite reason. I’m not a naturally organised person so need lots of reminders and ‘support’ with my executive functioning. I very much live in the moment and can forget that I’m meant to be helping one of my kids prepare for something while I’m wrapped up in reading to them or at a meet for example. These apps are there so that I can lean into living in the moment while knowing I won’t miss something important.
The best record-keeping system is the one you use so do what feels easiest and most helpful for you and how your mind ticks. For some that’ll be paper records!
I do keep paper records which I update monthly but that is less for me as it is for registration with the Home Education Unit here where we live (Queensland Australia). I use photos and notes on my phone to collate all the kids learning into more manageable chunks using the Mulberry planner.
I know people will want to read our weekly rhythm so I am going to share it but with this huge disclaimer and reminder: Every families weekly rhythm should be as unique as the people in the family! It should be born out of finding what feels right for your family personally.
Also important to note is that as unschoolers, our weekly rhythm is NOT balanced. It’s all about meeting current needs so is not designed to do a little bit of everything like school does. Our weekly rhythm does not exist to tick off arbitrary expectations.
Our current weekly rhythm
As I’ve said our Wednesdays and Fridays we meet with our unschool group for a full day of fun. I hope to write more about our group soon if people are interested in things we do?
So Monday, Tuesday and Thursday we are usually at home. Sometimes we go to someone’s house, have cousins or friends over or go out to a zoo, museum, art gallery, etc. But generally, at least two of our week days are at home.
Our home days generally have a similar rhythm to them. The night before I sometimes set out an activity I think they may enjoy – so some mornings that takes up some of their early morning.
My three are early risers so they usually wake around 6am and usually make breakfast together, watch some TV together, let the chickens out in their run, and typically play outside once it’s light.
On Mondays Lucy has speech and language therapy at 8:30-9:30 so Cameron often uses that time to practice some independent reading. Usually around 9:00-9:30 I have had my tea and breakfast and we start some read aloud time.
Once a week this includes poetry tea time and the kids often bake a treat to share while I read. I read a bit from a variety of mostly non-fiction books all centered around current interests. Lately, our list has included books about space, philosophy, art history, human anatomy, math and as always lots of animals.
After non-fiction books we usually read a chapter or two from our current book club or arrow together. Some of our book club books are audio books so we use audible for them which we also listen to in the car.
Often while I read we have a platter of fruit and veges and drinks as well as an activity or two especially for Ava. Food helps I’ve found to center and connect us all!
You can see many of our favourite books HERE.
This blends into ‘project time’ which is when I’ll refer to my looping rhythm list if my kids don’t already have things they’re asking to do. So this time varies a lot!
We typically stop for lunch around 12:30 or 1pm and they’re keen to play. In the afternoons they usually work more independently, play board/card games, watch documentaries, practice dance or soccer and we hang out outside and potter around the garden and our pets.
Every afternoon except for Wednesdays we have dance and/or soccer. Our evenings usually consist of dinner together followed by watching TV or movies. They go to sleep fairly early between 7:30 and 8:30 after showers. The girls still sleep with us adults while Cameron has his own room.
I hope this was helpful and interesting!
I would love to hear about your family rhythm!
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Love this post, Rachel. Especially the vision of us as ‘personal assistants helping them remember what their goals are’ :)
Have also found looping such a great concept in helping me keep track of all the projects my children have on the go or expressed an interest in, along with all the stuff I’d like to share with them. So much to keep track of.
Keep meaning to look into Masterpiece Society, and think I heard there’s now a podcast? Appreciate the reminder to check it out. We’re enjoying the art appreciation and art history resources from nurturestore and little bins for little hands, both have so many wonderful free resources :)