Tuesday, July 14, 2009

I Refuse to Call it a Schedule

I've never been much of a schedule person. I have my to-do list, and I like to have my week generally planned out. But sometimes I wake up at 7 and other times I wake up at 10. Meals happen when we're hungry. If we get the urge to go to the park or on a hike or to the store or whatever, we just go. Sometimes certain things have to get done on certain days or at certain times- usually work related or appointments. In those cases, I've never had a problem getting them done on time. Other than that, we're pretty relaxed.
I keep reading and hearing about how 3 year olds do better with a schedule. All that stuff about testing boundaries and limits, and supposedly a strict schedule keeps them busy, keeps them on track and reduces meltdowns. I see the logic in this-it's nice to know what's coming next, and while we may have the day loosely planned in our heads, she doesn't know what's going on unless we tell her. And even when we tell her, she's not yet capable of remembering everything and really grasping the concept of the future.
My problem with all the advice for schedules for 3 year olds, is that they are always so rigid and parent-dictated. The parent says "It's most convenient for me to do XYZ at this time and that time, so I'll slot your activties in here and here. So, you'll eat at 8, 12 and 6, sleep from 2-4 and we'll do the park or library at 10. We'll do this consistently every day until you realize you have no control over your own life, and conform to the monotony of the grind. After all, I have to prepare you for a real life 8-5 job. If I fail to schedule you now, you'll turn into a lazy, unmotivated blob who will play video games all day long!"
Ok, so that's a little dramatic and I'm only poking fun at the most rigid dictators (I mean parents). I know lots of parents who have a schedule, but are way more relaxed than this. But this is one reason I have resisted scheduling for so long.

However, I do see the logic in a little one needing to know what's coming next and having some rhythm and flow to the day. So, I finally figured out how to create a flow chart of our activities that is completely flexible, changable, and family oriented.

The backing is foam board. Across the top are the days of the week, and going down from each day are the activities. I used a roll of magnetic tape, cut up into pieces, for the activity slots. So, one side of the magnets is stuck to the foam board. I stuck pictures representing activities to another magnet, and placed them on top of the first magnets. Any of the picture magnets can come off and move to any other slot. So, we can rearrange things when we plan out our week or even during the day if the day's plans change. Changes happen with consideration for every member of the family, and everyone's input. You might also notice that there are no times anywhere on it.
The pictures are for meals, prayer/Bible study, clean up times, my work time, time that I commit to playing with the girls with no distractions, garden, library, football, church, dance group, park, hikes, and blank ones to which I can add special events.

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