Saturday, September 1, 2012

Preparing (Preschoolers) for a New School Year

As the summer winds its way to an end,
 and the frost kills the last of the garden, 
my mind starts shuffling toward gearing up for a more regimented schooling season.

 I rock the  baby-turning-toddler in my arms,
 realizing that as the season turns outdoors,
the baby season is turning in the home,
and soon, Olivia will be full toddler.
  This change will need to be thought of and planned for in our daily routine.
 When there are many in the household,
literally every aspect must be thought of and carefully planned
to help the function, peace, and harmony of the home
to run as smoothly as possible.

I have noticed over the years
 that the most practical place to begin in preparing for a new school year
 is with  these littlest ones in mind.

 I start by making a daily routine for us
that incorporates the littles and their napping,
play, and need for mama.
We created a place for them during our school day,
 with cozy little nooks
and drawers filled with items to interest them in playing independently.
Gathering baskets full of board books,
 stacking blocks, magnets, plush toys,
 big wooden beads and such,
we have turned a corner of our living room into a play area close at hand,
 with more children's books,
 a small table, coloring supplies,
 and the kind of toys toddlers love.
These toys are the more quiet kind;
 the louder, messier type can go upstairs in the family room,
 away from our study areas.

Although we have not begun school just yet,
I am spending a small part of each morning with Olivia and Gabe,
helping them into the routine,
so that when we do begin school work, the little ones are already used to it.

They have morning reading with mama - a good snuggle up time filling up their little "love tanks".
Then they are set to play in the living room for awhile...
sometimes one of us will help them in their play essentially teaching them good playing habits,
like sharing and putting the toys away before you move onto something else.
 I am teaching Olivia to color...on paper and not on everything else.
After some play time, they can move to the table with color books,
play dough, beads, or a snack,
then go back to play, perhaps upstairs for a change of scenery.
Next is lunch, then naps, and by that time,
 our students are finished with their work.

Being PROACTIVE by working with the little ones for a few weeks before we begin
 saves a ton of frustration later,
 and allows me the freedom to avoid being REACTIVE with squirrely toddlers
 when I am occupied with a student.
Olivia is 21 months, just beginning to talk fairly well, and want to play with Gabe and Bethany.
She needs to learn good interaction with the other children now,
learn to play nicely...
and it does not happen without intentional teaching.
So for us, the first step in getting ready for school is preparing the preschoolers.
A little preparation goes a looooong way in a big family.

What does our Fall routine look like?
Daddy gets up early and heads off to work before every one else is up.
Olivia and Gabe get up with mama around 6:30am.
The rest of the family are up at 7am.
We like to hang out and snuggle while we drink our coffee and tea in the morning.
(Excepting John who goes off to work right away.)
Eventually, we get dressed and have breakfast around 8am.
After breakfast, each person goes off to do their chores.
Schooling will then begin around 9am.
First off is reading, for an hour.
The older ones have assigned reading and I am free to read to the little ones as described above.
Secondly, at 10 am, we have Math at the table while the little ones have play time nearby.
We then move on to copywork, a good time for the littles to join us at the table and color, etc.
While the smaller ones go off to play again,
the rest will have History,
and then it is lunch time and outdoor play for all.
This is most likely my best chance for a walk through the woods,
 with or without Olivia in the Ergo.
Next is journaling, around 1 or 1:30, and Gabe and Olivia have their naps.
During this quiet time of the day, the older children will have research and Bible study time.
 By 3 pm daddy will be home and we will celebrate with tea and a snack.
The next scheduled activity is dinner at 6 pm.
The children have a strong tendency to get really wild after dinner,
so this is a great time to wrestle with daddy,
and if mama didn't get her walk in yet, she can sneak away to the serene forest.
Nearing 8 pm, we settle the children down in the living room to read aloud,
then are off to bed.

After the first week or so on the new schedule,
Brian and I will talk about it and tweek anything that needs adjusted.
 I think it is important to try our best to stick to the schedule,
but also, be flexible as needs arise, or things get out of hand.
 If something happens and we are off track,
 we can work together to get back on time,
 but it is not a something to stress over, or  let fluster you.
I love the structure of a daily routine.
There is something very freeing, beautiful, and satisfying
in going about your days with a systematic approach to accomplish all that lays before you.
 Such a day ends with great satisfaction.


  1. Sounds great!

    What a lovely routine you have - I love that Daddy gets home at 3 and you all have tea! My dear husband's schedule changes every 5 weeks - he will go back to days on Monday 8-4 and by time he is home we are started on dinner. I may have to see about getting everyone up early and having breakfast with Daddy....

    You have given me some food for thought and I thank you Julianne!


  2. Hi Julianne--

    You don't know me, but I stumbled upon your blog probably six months ago...Just thought I'd say that I am refreshed by what you write and share.
    God Bless sister,



Your comments and input are very much appreciate
- Blessings!

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