After publishing my post the other night with multiple resources for this quarantine (see “Keeping your children busy during the Coronavirus quarantine“), I realized it would be helpful to talk more about the logistics of carrying out this new homeschooling.
While I am not a homeschool educator, I am a veteran teacher. One of the most important parts of teaching is setting up routines and a schedule. My students know exactly what to expect each day, how the day flows, and the routines for everything we do.
For your “reluctant homeschool” I recommend doing the same. Even when my kids were young (especially when I had three infants and was a stay-at-home mom) and we were home for breaks, summer, etc., we had a schedule. Print it out and post it on the table, fridge, or a bulletin board. You can even print it out on strips of paper and use magnets on the back so you can move them around as needed.
There are multiple ideas online for specific schedules (see below), but ultimately it will depend on you and your children. It will also depend on how much distance learning your children’s school is using, the ages of your children, and whether you are working from home while taking care of your kids. You can also be flexible with it as needed. And remember, “homeschooling” does not mean you have to create a classroom and have your kids sit at tables or desks all day. Even in my own classroom we have times for fun, movement, projects, and games!
I plan to use the bingo game I created in Part 1 of this post for ideas to fill in the non-academic times.
Types of activities/times of day may include:
- prayer (davening)
- outdoor time or movement
- creative activities
- games and puzzles
- free time
- reading (see below)
- academic time
- screen time (educational and/or free)
- household tasks
- snack and lunch
Having a set schedule and routine will help your child know what to expect, give them ideas of what to do at each time of day, and limit screen time. It will also give them a sense of predictability during this uncertain time.
We are also continuing our Evening checklist. I have a list of tasks (printed and put into a page protector) that my kids need to complete each night after dinner (dinner chore, homework, reading, clean room, shower, make lunches, brush teeth, lay out clothes, and pack backpack). This helps everyone stay on track in the evenings.
I have been also reading tips from various homeschooling moms. Here are some quick tips they recommend:
∞ Involve your kids in planning activities. You might want to make a bucket list of things they want to do during this time at home. It might include things they want to cook, games they want to get, or crafts they want to make. They may have specific topics or things they want to learn about. This a great way to take into account their wishes and feelings.
∞ Be realistic. Remember that this is not school. You do not need to spend the same amount of hours teaching your children as they would normally do at school. Of course, follow the guidelines your child’s school is recommending (i.e. if they have a distance learning schedule), but especially for younger children, you may need to adjust. Spend 15-30 minutes on an activity and then switch to something else. If they are engaged, do it longer!
Check out this great article on how homeschooling is different than crisis schooling – Homeschooling is NOT the Same as Crisis Schooling: Advice During Coronavirus COVID-19 Shut Downs
∞ Stagger activities. If you have children of various ages and grade levels, consider staggering activities so you can help one child with his/her work while the other(s) are engaged in something that does not require help (playing with toys, watching something educational, or playing outside).
∞ Read Aloud. Spend time reading every day! This means definitely setting aside time for your children to read traditional books, but it can also include you reading aloud to your children (picture books or chapter books), listening to an audiobook together, or having older siblings read to younger ones. We are so excited to continue our audio book we have been listening to in short snippets in our car!
∞ Spend special time with each child. Try to carve out some time that you spend 1-1 with each of your children. It might be only 15 minutes. Let them decide how you will spend it. It might be reading just to them, taking a walk, playing a game, cooking, etc.
∞ Remember self-care. This is a stressful time for parents, too. Make sure you take time for yourself – meditate, do yoga, write in your journal, take time for a hobby, call a friend, etc. You can only take care of your kids for these lengthy amount of times at home if you take care of yourself! You will also be more patient and creative with them!
∞ Include surprises. Yes, you need a schedule. But also plan some spontaneous activities and surprises! Ideas include dinner by candlelight, movie night with popcorn, camping out in the living room, impromptu games, a home scavenger hunt, etc.
∞ Enjoy this time. Be sure to take time to enjoy this unusual and extra time you have with your children! Don’t stress over the details or making explicit plans or Pinterest-worthy projects. Help your children have fun, be creative, and explore their interests and curiosity!
If you are working from home, here are some great tips:
- 7 Tips for Working From Home With Your Kids During the COVID-19 Outbreak
- How to Work from Home with Kids During the Coronavirus Quarantine (and Not Lose Your Mind)
- Parents, What You’re Doing Is Impossible
For some schedule ideas:
- Sudden Homeschooling Kit from Artful Teaching Joyful Learning
- Printable schedule from BIAS
- Schedule example from Carpe Diem Treatment Homes
- Schedule example from Hands On As We Grow
I wish everyone well during this stressful time!