Thursday, January 21, 2010

Routines and Rhythms: Wake-Up Time and Daily Rhythm Charts

Most early education specialists agree – and this mom is no dissenter – that young children thrive on routine. Yet, I have been less than stellar at ensuring Luke and Nina’s day-to-day lives have distinct routines layered into their natural rhythms. Easily distracted by do-nows, often hyper-focused on minuscule matter and always afraid of becoming too rigid with schedules (as I was in my “former life”), I tend to err on the side of almost-too-relaxed routines with the kids at time.

Somehow, Luke and Nina are not much worse for the wear yet. But, I do note behavioral differences (for the better!) on the days that I concentrate on all of us following a more intentional rhythm. So, as I started 2010 off with a commitment to Order in the Home, I decided I should extend that commitment to Order in the Home School. Jammies School, then, took on two new organizational systems since the New Year began. And, I am happy to report that both are going fairly well.

The first project is one that the kids and I began some weeks ago with a fun photo shoot one day when I realized our mornings were getting way off kilter and needed to be re-balanced. The pictures from that session finally made it onto “laminated” (contact papered) cards that fit into Dollar Spot pocket charts that I found at Target a while back.
The kids, then, chose to put the charts in their room, since that is where they see their Wake-Up Time starting and ending (with actually waking up and, later, getting dressed). So, we tacked the charts to the walls by their beds and, then, set the cards in boxes on their night tables. As we move through the morning, we run in and flip through the cards:

"Did you wake up”
"Yes!” (They giggle as they put the Wake-Up cards in the chart.)
"Did you find Mommy or Daddy to share a hug?”
I get a second or third kiss and hug for the morning before the cards go in -- a true delight!
Did you say good morning to God?”
Nina happily puts her card in, while Luke scrunches his face as I help him begin, “Good morning God, I offer you...” Then, he puts his card in, too.

And so on and so forth it goes until they reach a picture of something they have yet to do and eagerly run off to do it.
Thus, the first few days we used our Wake-Up Time pocket charts, things went exceedingly well. Nina completed her Wake-Up Time with relish, and, although Luke was still wary of actually changing out his jammies when we weren’t leaving the house, he did, of his own volition, lay them out on the bed for “if we go out”, while opting to simply hold off on putting up his last two Wake Up Time cards in his chart (the “Get dressed” and “I am ready for my day” ones). For Luke, and here I mean Luke-who-likes-things-his-way, this is great progress!
Progress came to a halt with our Wake-Up Time system one day, however, when Nina (who loves to use small cards as manipulatives or play credit cards) absconded with all the laminated picture cards without Mike and my notice. We searched many bags, boxes and hiding spaces, asking Nina where she put them, to no avail. Just recently, I found the missing stack in the toe of her just-washed feetie jammies... Surprisingly, they held up quite well. (Love that contact paper!) So, after straying a bit from our new system, we are just now getting back into it and hoping to make it stick... at least until the items pictured in it become habitual.
And the second system? Well, we began using was a Daily Rhythm chart. My intent was to make this a pocket chart thing, too. But, I didn’t have a third pocket chart. So, to preclude an unnecessary purchase, I revamped my idea.

Nina and I quartered a stack of those calendar magnets that many businesses send out at the start of the year, and taped the pieces on to the back of some Daily Rhythm cards I had made and “laminated”. We, then, put these cards on the top door our fridge in four columns – one for morning, one for afternoon, one for evening and one for night, with extra cards for sometimes-activities hanging on the bottom door of the fridge.

Since then, the kids have usually been excited to move a little magnet from card to card as we progress through each day. Granted, Nina sometimes enjoys simply taking the cards down and rearranging them just as much as actually leaving them in order and moving the magnet. And, Luke likes to jump ahead many cards to things like “rough play” or “free play” and, also, to sneak a “play” card in there after “wind-down” time. (Our boy!) But, all in all, the system is helping us.

Since putting the Daily Rhythm cards on the fridge, I have noted Luke and Nina paying more attention to what we actually do each day, looking forward to activities and events that lay ahead on particular days and, yes, even reminding me when I need to stop something I have become embroiled in so that I can help them move onto their next little chunk of the day. As such, our Daily Rhythm fridge chart, has helped the kids see the big picture of the day, while making me realize how easy it is for me to get caught up in one small part of it. I have realized that while they move naturally (with a reminder here and there) throughout the day, I -- too often -- throw our rhythm off, by getting lost in mind-and-task meanderings too long. So, the kids’ chart is proving fruitful not only for them, but for me.

As the saying goes, “Everything I need, I learned in Kindergarten”. Almost any good kindergarten has visual schedules to help teachers and children with routines. I am glad Jammies School finally does, too. I encourage others to employ similar techniques. If you have, please share your systems, successes and stories.  Leave a comment telling us all about it below.

And, if you would like to use our Wake-Up Time or Daily Rhythm cards as a starting point for your own, feel free to leave a comment or email us with a request.  We'd be happy to send you our computer files for them.  (I haven't learned yet how to upload them onto the blog so you can simply download them.  If you know how, do share!)  Or, I think, you can just click on the graphics and you will get enlargements you could print as is.

Have a blessed - and in-rhythm- day!


Honey said...

Argh! I was sharing how to have dl's on your blog when I hit the back button! errr! :) Go to Sign up. Click the upload files button. Browse your computer & then click upload. Click the 4th button to the right of your file. This will drop down a list. Click link to this folder. It'll create some gibberish that you copy & paste into the link section when you click the link button on your blog. You'll highlight what you want to make a link first on your blog so it's clickable/goes to the file. Be sure to test the link to make sure it works & then save it. I had to ask someone too how to do this. :) By the way, is there any chance you'd post your templates? I'd like to make a set for Sunshine especially. She's 2 & she'd really enjoy being able to have more independence throughout her day.

I've been trying to create a better rhythm in our house & I think pictures on the fridge are a wonderful, easy to see while walking by idea. We're going to try this!

Thanks! Honey

Martianne said...


Thank you for taking the time to explain how to use I will try to get to doing this by the end of the week, but with lots of work contracts, hubby going away and life and elarning as usual, it may take me longer. In the meantime, if you would like the files above, simply click on the pcis and they should come up full-size for you to print. If they don't, email me and I will send you the files... Good luck!

Anonymous said...

Thank you for the link from AO. I think your routine is wonderful. I would really appreciate the files to print them out for use with my three young ones.
Thank you,

2 Pequeños Traviesos said...

Hi Martianne! This isn't my 1st time visiting your blog and this post, today. I'm trying to read it thoroughly but the kids won't let me. I see you have some great rhythm cards. I was planning on doing something similiar by taking pictures and getting them printed on Walgreens as it is cheep and I won't use my printer. But then again, I have been saying this for months. Its time to take action. Take to you soon.

Hugs and Peace to you my friend!

Jane and Jee Kim said...

Hi!! This is my first time visiting your blog and I love what you are doing!! I'm not yet homeschooling but am reading up and thinking about it all. In the meantime - I'd LOVE your rhythm cards! would you mind sharing them? Thanks so much in advance!

Becky said...

love it..perfect for my autistic son

eunice said...

Hi there. I just lve you blog . I have read it almost throughout. I completly agree taht we have to raise our kids in a Christ-centered way and that God has to be part or their day... I would like to recieve your activity routine flashcards (Wake-Up Time or Daily Rhythm ) to my e-mail. I am looking foward to put it into use with my kid. Thanks a lot

Unknown said...

Thanks for dropping by my blog and good luck with the giveaway! Both your routine ideas sound great and look amazing. Like your kids, mine do fine when the routine charts aren't being used, but do sooo much better when they are.

Diana said...

I have been reading your blog off and on and have enjoyed it so much. Thank you for sharing your experiences, resources and insight. Life is finally getting too chaotic around here(largely due to me getting off on rabbit trails each day...) and I think we need more clearly defined daily routines. I would LOVE to have files of your morning routine and daily routine cards to use with our three preschoolers. Thank you so much!

Unknown said...


I might be late here, but you can easily save your documents into pdf format with a free software called doPDF. I think I downloaded it from After installing it you just use it as if you were to print your file, but instead of selecting an actual printer, you select doPDF. It will then ask you on what folder you want to save the File in PDF format. You will not loose your original file (but remember to save it first in the original format just in case, as this software is not for editing PDFs but only for creating them)..

Everybody has a PDF file viewer, so the files are easier to share in that format, I think...

I hope this helps!

Anonymous said...

I would love to use your cards as a starting point. I have our schedule, but have been trying to figure out how to translate it into visual form for them. My email address is Thank you!

Anonymous said...

love your blog! can you please share your template with me? my email is thank you!

EcoCrazyMom said...

I an so excited to have found your blog! We already use a similar system with our home learning, but I love how cute your rhythm cards are and would love to try them out! Please e-mail them to me at :) I just started my very first blog and would love to share them with my readers as well, if you don't mind. (Of course I would include a link to your blog and give proper credit) Thanks a bunch!


Anonymous said...

I am interested in your routine charts and cards files. Is there a way for you to share them thru file attachment in an email??

maliq said...

I am also interested in using your Wake-Up Time and Daily Rhythm cards! my email is


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