Juggling lessons and mealtimes and naptimes is not for the faint of heart. Every child has different needs, abilities, and “schedules”. This is how WE balance it all but I’d first preface this post with the fact that you as the Mother will know what it best for your child(ren). I cannot express enough the power of instinct and prayer and getting that FEEL about “what is the next best thing to do”. So I will share our schedule but remember, it’s also a rhythm and a guide of what our days might look like. Nothing is ever set in stone.
*Keep in mind, there are two 15 minute breaks at 9:00 am and somewhere in latter half of lesson block (9:00-11:00 am). You’ll also see that Fridays are reserved for either Book Talks, always weekly narration, (IG post on that later), Wild and Free Group, or a catch-up day if we need it (illness, etc.).
Lastly, our Gentle Feast school year will look like three terms of 12 weeks, six weeks on, one week off. I started our school year early so I could get a good six weeks in before I’m full term, then we will resume the other six weeks in the Autumn post baby break. Here you go!
“Schedule” or Lesson Rhythm
|Time + |
Time 15 min
|Bible + |
|Hymn Study||Poet study or |
|Fable Study||weekly |
Arts 20 min
in LA packet
in LA packet
in LA packet
20 min each
20 min each
25 min daily
|Right Start||Right Start||Right Start||Right Start|
|Folk Song||Spanish Song||Folk Song||Sol Fa|
Remember, this is our guide. Its absolutely flexible and often if we don’t use the full time alloted, we simply move on to the next subject. Miss Mason talks about how if the student finishes early, it becomes their free time until next lesson block, but for us in this season of small children and unpredictable interruptions, we simply move on and could end up finishing early.
So you’ll see lessons typically take up to three hours in the morning, and afternoons are reserved for leisure, outdoors, the “dessert” of the Gentle Feast. The CM method of short and varied lessons trains the child in the habit of attention but also frees up the afternoons for the other “bookends of beauty” as I like to call them.
When to do housework/cooking/etc?
Since the afternoons are free, I can complete all necessary housework then. I can also throw in a load of laundry or start the slow cooker in the morning while she is working on LA or some other independent activity. I also use companies like Grove and Instacart to help with the workload so I don’t have to be out shopping too much.
What to do during seasons of stress/transition/pressure?
During difficult seasons, (like pregnancy for me currently) I simply shave off the non-essentials. So for example, we are not doing any current Sol-Fa or brushworking lessons. Once we are in a more manageable season, I can add in the items I wish to do but refuse to stress over.
As for other seasons of stress, I’m just not sure. I’m an ISTJ and an enneagram 8. Its simply in my personality to “get things done”, and stay organized, etc. I know there are many mamas in the homeschooling community to seek and find about how to deal with other difficult seasons. In general I think its always OK to take a break. Teaching From Rest by Mackenzie is a great read for learning how to do exactly that, trusting the Lord, and really keeping family priorities above the “curriculum.”
What to do with the little ones?
Ah, probably the biggest challenge to the homeschool day, right? I’ll be honest. Toddlers are tough for me. Before starting more “formal lessons” it was a big hodge podge of felt activities, outdoor play at any time, free learning everywhere vibes all the time! But now with my daughter turning six and absolutely ready for more challenge and structure, I’ve simply needed HELP with my other two small ones (age 4 and 2).
Sometimes, my son (4 yo) will join in on Morning Time and Beauty Loop as we used to all share in on MT. However during lessons NOW, I do one of a few different options.
1.) Set out Montessori activities, AYOPS, geoboard + rubber bands, letter activity, sensory bin, play dough, etc.. on the dining room table just next to our “schoolroom” (all in same large room.)
2.) Outdoors! Usually he will play well with his baby sister (2 yo) out there, finding worms, snails, pill bugs, trampoline, etc. Usually being the key word.
3.) Family helps! My husbands schedule is flexible in that he is home Monday and most of Tuesday. Amazing right? So he is with them during lessons Monday and Tuesday, takes them to the mountains 5 minutes away, plays outside, etc. My mother might come on a Wednesday, and then I balance it all on the last day of lessons. Keep in mind, this too is a season (pregnancy). Post baby, I will have more energy and ability to juggle them into our learning days but right now, I’m taking the HELP!
So after our “Dessert” or “Afternoon Block”, its free time/play/friends/etc. I will start supper at 4:00 pm, occasionally making it a meal where the kids can help. I keep meals SIMPLE right now, homemade pizza, tacos, slow cooker meals, etc. I will meet with Julia Childs again one day but not anytime soon.
I should also note that we have many dance parties around this time. It’s the time where I’m about to lose my mind so…dance parties help. 😉
Supper at 5:00 ish is always spent TOGETHER, with or without Papa. More elaborate meals are made when he is home simply because we love when he is home to eat with us, but I also have the time to cook something other than popcorn and smoothies.
We always read books before bed. We try to have a family over for supper at least once a month, and we limit screen-time quite a bit (depending on the season). We prioritize one-on-one time with each child as often as we can and probably the biggest struggle we have is prioritizing Date-nights for my husband and myself! Still working on this, but it should be mentioned that putting the time and effort into your marriage (especially during tough seasons) is SO IMPORTANT.
Bedtime is a strict 7:30 and whiskey and PBS Masterpiece is at 8:00 pm. Have I made myself clear? 😉
Hope this was helpful!
“An observant child should be put in the way of things worth observing.” – Charlotte Mason