“Aweigh” to Plan Your Day Without Running Aground in the Details
I swear I’ve tried every daily planning method out there. I attempted full on scheduling with specific times for specific subjects and activities. I’ve tried following a routine for our day where there aren’t set times, but more of a general flow. Anchoring your day is a hybrid of both approaches: scheduling and routine. Instead of scheduling every subject or activity, you only schedule certain items in your day or homeschool. Anchoring also is similar to a routine because your anchors keep your day flowing so you don’t get bogged down or off track.
I started anchoring our homeschool because scheduling felt too stifling and stressful while routine was too loose and resulted in inefficiency on my part. To determine my anchors I asked myself some questions:
What time did I want our school day to end? We are not morning people so when the day ends is more realistic for us than when it starts. If you are a family of morning people, you would want to ask yourself when do we want it to begin. My answer was 4:00 PM. I don’t want our school day to take longer than that because most of the kids’ outside commitments start right around there and because I want to be done before dinner time rolls around. This doesn’t mean our day could be shorter than that, but I definitely do not want it to be longer.
How long is our school day on paper? If I write out the amount of time I think it should take to complete each subject or activity how long would our school day be. Now add an hour. That’s actually how long your day will probably run when dealing with transitions, personalities, bathroom breaks, pencil sharpening, etc. My answer to the second question was 6 1/2 hours once I add in my extra hour of swing time. Knowing how long our day takes on paper along with that extra hour helps me determine my first anchor of the day.
What are natural transition times in our homeschool and home? This one was pretty easy for me since I already had our day divided into four major categories any way: Morning Meeting, The 4 R’s (religion, reading, writing, and arithmetic), Lunch, and Table Time. All of these require moving to different areas of the house and preparation on my part to get ready for those learning times so there are natural breaks there anyway. Some other natural breaks could be breakfast, chores, quiet time, devotions, etc.
Now I take this information to determine what anchors I want and what time I want that anchor to be placed in our day. The anchor is my “buck stops here” point in the flow of our day. In other words, when the time for that anchor arrives, everything else stops and we begin that activity or subject. This allows me the control of a schedule, but the freedom of a routine.
For example here is our Normal Anchor Plan:
9:00 AM = Kids up and breakfast
9:30 AM = Morning Meeting
11:00 AM = The 4 R’s
1:00 PM = Lunch
2:00 PM = Table Time
4:00 PM = End of school day
When these times roll around those anchors MUST happen. Planning our day this way helps me stay on track, but it’s also really flexible. If something happens that we can’t hit one of those times, we just begin our anchors when the next one rolls around.
Now I will admit that some days we sleep late, some days we’re all moving slowly, some days someone is ill, and some days we are just in a funk. Because of these real life scenarios I came up with my bare bones anchor schedule as well. I pull this one out on those days where we can’t fit in a full school day for whatever reason. It is also anchored, but it is more fluid. You can start the first anchor whenever you need to and just adjust the following anchors to fit your start time.
Bare Bones Anchor Plan:
10:30 AM = Shortened Morning Meeting
11:00 AM = Shortened 4 R’s (Bible, math, and phonics (for Sophia) or literature (for Grace))
12:00 PM = Shortened Table Time (reading only, no activities or notebooking)
1:00 PM = Lunch and end of day
I’ve found it super helpful to have a fall back plan when the full plan is not possible. We probably use our Bare Bones plan at least once a week, and it helps me know that we are still moving forward even if it’s not a full day of learning.
What’s your preferred method to plan the flow of your homeschool day?