Saturday, November 21, 2015

In Praise of the Average Day Chart

Now I realize that the timing of this post may seem a little odd, since we're about to go into Thanksgiving week and then Advent and then Christmas vacation...  and all of those things mean that average weeks are guaranteed to be non-existent and even average days will be few and far between.

But I like to post about things that are actually working rather than things I hope will work, which puts me off the usual cycle for homeschooling posts.  Also, I hope it will serve as a reminder for me to try and protect at least a few days a week as average days, even as things get busier.

The Average Day Chart is inspired by Brandy at Afterthoughts (see hereherehere, and here - I think there's an even better post from her 2015 planning series lurking somewhere in the archives, but I can't seem to find it) and implementing it, along with Nicole's work on scheduling has been a life changing and sanity saving.

Having this regular rhythm to our days is a huge help for me, especially as I multiply this chart out over the course of the week.  Looking at our days as a concrete set of boxes of time has made me realize how much - or perhaps how little - we can actually do in a given day.  I am extremely good at creating long lists of things that need to be done, and then waving my hand somewhat despairingly at it and saying, oh, it'll all get done somehow...  but then either it doesn't actually get done, or the kids and I work ourselves into exhaustion trying to do far too much for a given day.

I assign my children's work to these various boxes, and if it doesn't fit into the boxes, then it doesn't get assigned.  Yes, children can dawdle and take longer than they should on their work...  but if they work in a reasonably diligently fashion, they will get their work done and then be done for the day.  And the kids all know that if they don't get their work done in the allotted time, then they will be doing their work later during their independent time.  This doesn't happen for the younger ones, as I am working more closely with them...  but it does happen for my Y8 daughter.  She also knows that if oral narrations are not done that day, then they turn into written narrations...  and she will not be included in fun family activities if her work is not completed.  But I am also extremely reasonable about how much work gets assigned in a slot, and I am very open to modifying assignments if something I've assigned turns out to be a lot more work than I originally expected.

This may look very regimented and difficult, but really it is the weeks when we have a couple out of the house engagements in the morning or early afternoon that are very difficult.  A week with only one or two average days is ever so much harder than a week with three or four average days.  There's so much peace in being able to move smoothly through what needs to be done, and having the children know what to expect from our day.   It is also such a huge help for me, as I have some rest time for myself in the course of the day, and I know exactly which children I'm working with at which time.  There is nothing that frazzles me more than having all five children needing something from me at once!

A few notes - Emma is Y8, Gregory Y4, Nathan Y2, Justin is 4 and Hannah is almost 2.
The readings that the boys have in the afternoon are generally shorter than scheduled.
The boys do piano together right now, taking turns working with me, which is why they are scheduled at the same time.


  1. An Average Day Chart!! Isn't it a life saver? I love the big blocks for Play for the littles. :)

    1. Oh my goodness, yes! i'm not entirely sure I could pull it off when pregnant or in that first year post-partum, but it is absolutely wonderful now.

  2. extremely helpful, thank you. I have a Year 2 boy as well.
    What handicrafts does your Nathan do?
    best wishes,

    1. Let's see... right now we're doing origami, and we've done knot tying, embroidery, and stitching projects with felt. Oh, and weaving too, with a loop loom. I have also done some sewing with him on my machine, but that's more of a weekend project than something we have as part of the school day.

    2. Thank you! Sounds brilliant!
      We need to start some handiwork..
      x Antonia