Saturday, December 09, 2006

daily rhythms

One of the first things that an Enki Education family does is to establish a supportive rhythm to their day, which helps to keep everyone feeling integrated. This is different from a schedule, as there aren't time values assigned to the rhythm, it's just a general pattern on how the day runs. It doesn't mean that you never do time-permanent tasks -- obviously, appointments or classes with others require that you stick to some sort of a schedule. But it's the way your day flows from one type of activity to the next.

A big part of the rhythm is staying connected with your kids enough to get through the morning hours, when they have a need for that type of connectedness with you, so that you can put quite a bit of variety into your afternoon without anyone feeling dysregulated or falling apart. I can attest to the fact that if our morning rhythms are significantly disrupted, the rest of the day is a MESS that we're mostly scrambling to get through intact (and flop into bed with a HUGE sigh of relief come bedtime!). Yet, if we stick to our morning rhythms, quite a bit of variety -- even chaos! -- can happen during the afternoon hours, yet we all manage to remain regulated and sane. Then in the evening, it's important to have that connectedness again with the kids so that transition to bedtime goes smoothly.

The Enki Education folks reccommend you start by sitting back and watching your daily routine, and make note of what works to keep everyone on an even keel, what ramps the kids up, what causes meltdowns and breakdowns in the flow of the day. Then you put together a daily rhythm plan based on that, tweaking it as you go.

I did a whole lot of tweaking, and then a couple of massive overhauls, in our daily rhythms, but I think I've finally stumbled on something that support our family's particular preferences and unique makeup. (That's another totally awesome thing about Enki -- you tailor it to fit your specific family, just like you do with RDI.) It suddenly occured to me a week or two ago that I was still trying to make it a SCHEDULE rather than a more flexible rhythm. Once I stopped making it be about trying to fit in all our "stuff" every day, everything sort of fell into place.

So here's our current daily rhythm. I reserve the right for further tweaking as needed.

--Rise and Shine -- we get up, at a time that makes sense to us. Usually this is about 7:00, but that can vary about 45 minutes in either direction depending on when we actually got to bed the night before, and if anyone just needs a little extra sleep. (The Map Man is up and gone to work by 6:30, so he's not a part of our morning rhythms except for on the weekends, in which case I'm usually not a part of it because I'm up and gone to work.)

--Pretend Play and Bed Making -- the kids play with each other while I putter about opening curtains and making beds. Sometimes the kids help me make the beds, all depends on whether they need to be with each other or with me more.

--Diapers, Dressing and Brushing -- As I can fit it seemlessly into their play, I change diapers (they are both still wearing them at night -- Jacob changes to pull-ups during the day, though most times he is using the potty during the day. Zoo Boy as yet has no intention of using the potty.), assist the kids in getting dressed, and do a sensory brushing session with Jacob. Play continues while I feed the dogs and prepare the kids' breakfast. Sometimes I take a shower at this point, if the kids are really into their play and aren't looking to eat quite yet.

--Breakfast -- the boys eat their breakfast while I work around the kitchen. If I haven't showered already, I do it now. By the time the kids are done eating, the kitchen is clean, and they bring their dishes over and load them in the dishwasher.

--Tidy Up -- I pick up the toys that were brought out during the morning play session. If the kids have had enough pretend play, they'll help me pick up and then we'll transition into Morning Circle. Otherwise, the pretend play continues while I do a quick tidy, then I work on household chores while waiting for them to be available for Circle.

--Morning Circle -- I sing a seasonally appropriate song to start the circle, and we begin with a calendar activity where we discuss what day of the week and month it was yesterday and review where we went and what we did (RDI work on Episodic Memory), then talk about what day today is and preview what we are going to be doing that day (again, RDI Episodic Memory work). We then discuss the weather, what it was yesterday, what it is today, including stepping outside to feel the temperature first-hand, then we record it on our weather chart. Then we do some movement/song activities and/or some OT/Sensory Integration exercises.

--Outdoor Play -- when Morning Circle is done, we put on our outdoor clothes (discussing what types of outerwear we need, thinking back to our weather chart -- more RDI work!), and head outside to play in the yard. I'll discuss the type of play we encourage in another post about Enki Education and what they reccommend for play activities.

--Adventure/Lunch -- when it's time to head off for our "adventure" time we wrap up the outdoor play and climb into the mini-van (which we call our "big blue adventure van") and head off. Sometimes we eat lunch on the way to our destination, or sometimes we just eat a hearty snack in anticipation of lunch at a later time. Much of that depends on the day or the planned activity. Our typical weekly adventure schedule is like this: Monday we have OT/Sensory Integration, then spend the rest of the day at my parent's house. Tuesday we have music class, then a community movement program. Wednesdays are currently a playground/play area type thing, although I'm actively looking for the right Phys Ed type program for my guys on Wednesdays, at least for the winter. Thursday is the Library, then a regular weekly lunch and play date with a friend. Friday is our homeschool co-op day, so some days we stay home all day and have our co-op friends at our house, some days we have a long drive to do the co-op at one of their homes.

--Barn Chores -- our general goal is to get home between 3 and 4 to do barn chores -- the timing depends on the daylight available, as this takes about a 1 hour block of time and needs to be finished before dark. The kids help me fill and carry the grain buckets and feed all the animals, then they either climb trees and/or play with their goats and chickens while I muck out stalls, or they help me clean. When I'm done scooping poop, they help me push the wheelbarrow down to the manure pile and dump it. They then carry the empty buckets back to the house for me while I make sure all the gates have gotten latched behind us.

--Small motor/sensory activity -- if there's time between the end of chores and when The Map Man comes home, the kids play with playdoh or the sand table or some other such fine-motor/sensory based activity. Sometimes we bake during this time.

--Daddy time -- The Map Man comes home from work at 5, and plays actively with the boys while I escape to do some emailing and/or blogging.

--Dinner -- we all sit down to dinner (on the nights I'm not working) around 6, or whenever I manage to pull myself away from the computer (sometimes I have to be dragged away, I have a serious addiction problem....).

--Bath time and bed prep -- The Map Man does baths and bed prep while I finish up my computer work.

--Family Story Time -- at some point between 7 and 8, whenever the kids are ready for bed and my computer work is wrapped up for the evening, we light a candle and all climb into the big king-sized bed for our favorite time of day, Family Story Time. We sing an opening song, and read 3 picture books (same books each day of the week, switching them out one at a time over the weekend so there are 3 new books the following week), singing seasonal songs between each one. Then we sing a closing song. We are currently following that up with a short video, though I will talk about the controversy around electronic media, especially at bedtime, in a future post. Ideally, I think it would be better if we DIDN'T do the video. But that's what we're doing right now.

--Bedtime -- after the short video, I sing a lullabye and we both lie with the kids until they fall asleep, then they are moved to their nightime sleeping locations.

--Parent Time -- this is a brand-new thing for us, courtesy of Enki Education's insistance that it's important. The Map Man and I are actually making time to spend with each other. It's amazing! It's revolutionary! It's about time!! And after 6 years of never really seeing each other alone, it's pretty darned addictive -- we're having trouble bringing parent time to a close early enough for us to both get enough sleep to support us the following day, but we're working on trying to control ourselves to just a couple hours. We discuss important items about the kids, the household, the farm. We watch TV shows (LOST rules!), and sometimes movies. We discuss RDI and Enki Education and Sensory Integration. We have adult conversation. We eat decadent desserts. It's truly sinful, I tell you! And delightful!


At 10:10 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I must say that this blog has been very helpful to me. Jacob's mom describes a life I wish I'd had for my little one; now she is 13 almost 14 but this blog is a help now inspiring me to put more structure into our home schooling activity. We have been in a lull for awhile, recovering from public elementary school. I must commend Jacob's mom!
I have included her blog on mine at Warning: mine rambles and is not really only about home education, but includes my journey in general.
God bless Jacob's mom!!! ~lis

At 11:34 AM, Anonymous diane said...

All I can say is "Wow!" and THANK YOU. Faithful reader, Diane


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