Hey there, Sweet mom who finds herself suddenly schooling at home!
Grab a cup of coffee and find a quiet spot (probably the closet with the door locked). Now, just breathe. I’ll take a deep breath with you.
These are crazy times none of us ever imagined going through. After seven years of homeschooling, there are many changes my family is adjusting to with all that is going on around us. All the activities that we used to cart them off to every day are suddenly canceled: weekly community group, theater, social events, sports, etc.
Now we are home. All. The. Time. (I will say, our dog is ecstatic!)
First, I need to be completely honest with you about homeschooling… we don’t spend as many hours in the day as you think doing actual schoolwork. If your kid(s)’ teacher has sent homework to complete, that is great! Just keep on following what they sent home for you. As to a schedule, I strongly encourage you to develop a routine at home. It doesn’t have to be set up as hour-by-hour, but kids thrive when they know what to expect.
They are also being thrust into this new time of uncertainty. As their parent, they look to you for consistency and encouragement. We can help them by setting up a routine and a structure for their day. Let them help! Kids love planning out their time! Every family will find their own rhythm. For littles, print up pictures to signify each daily activity. If you prefer flexibility, glue them on the end of Popsicle sticks, and as they complete each activity, they move them into another jar.
We’ve also been enjoying some of the zoo tours offered online. Check out the Cincinnati Zoo page on Facebook – they have a daily zoo visit:
- South Carolina Aquarium is doing virtual tours right now – check out their Facebook page as well! Public Facebook group “Covid-19 Accidental Homeschoolers” is just a bunch of parents posting ideas all day.
- Reading time (audiobook or independent) while Mommy gets some work done (calls, emails, event planning, conference calls)
- Playtime outside or if raining – upstairs with Legos, puzzles, boxes, dolls, cars, or whatever.
- Screen time if the room is picked up (not always done to my liking, but I have learned to change expectations)
- Family time – whatever your family enjoys doing together- board games, tv shows, going on a bike ride or walk, etc.
In our house, the 10 -year-old daughter is an early riser. She loves to get up and get her work done early so she can just play and explore the rest of the day. That makes it easier for me to be available for our eldest throughout the day, if needed, as well as get some work done in my home office. We follow a classical program, and in 8th grade, she is doing a lot of independent learning with minimal actual “teaching” from me. I check in with her and will follow along with her in some subjects, but she’s pretty independent now, completing work on her own. This child gets up later in the morning, thanks to those crazy teen hormones, and she will slowly start her day.
Our daily routine for our younger kiddo pretty much looks like this:
- Wake up (usually 7ish)
- Run outside in the yard with the dog (since I never walk the poor thing)
- Basic school studies: Math, Language Arts, Sciences – we use an online Math curriculum, follow Language Arts from our Classical program, and same for the Sciences – if you are trying to get by temporarily and have no work sent home from the teacher, check out BrainQuest workbooks (Bjs, Costco, Target) or Khan Academy online, which includes instructional videos (hello, Math help!)
- Art time – Since we can’t meet in our weekly art class, we’ve been watching “Lunch Doodles with Mo Willems” on YouTube as well as just enjoying doodling or sketching what we see. When Mommy is okay with the mess, we’ll break out a big roll of butcher paper and tempera paints and have paint time on the back porch. She also loves watching Bob Ross – those happy clouds…
Our 8th grader has a more rigorous program as she’s prepping to enter high school. (I’m pretty sure she takes more frequent breaks than she really needs) Her usual day:
- Wake up very slowly
- Latin, Logic, & Literature/or Comp/ or Science – block schedule
- Math – an intense program online, so she usually spends at least 1.5 hours on it
- Mock Trial prep
- An afternoon full of doodling, sketching anime, and listening to her fave Pandora stations – I’ve had to force her to go sit outside and soak up some vitamin D, or she’ll be in her cave all day
When our girls were little, actual “school time” was very short, and I found a lot of helpful documentaries and shows they could watch in the morning as I had my coffee and mentally prepared for the day. So much learning happens just in life – running errands (though I don’t recommend right now), walking outside, observing, following what mommy is doing in the kitchen and around the house. Bake, meal plan, and/or exercise together. Life skills are critical learning blocks.
Both of the girls help in the kitchen daily.
Weekly chores are knocked out on Saturdays quickly. They also are old enough to do their own laundry. When they were younger, I let them “help.”
Alternating weekend chores are dusting, swiffering, bathroom cleaning (I refuse to clean their bathroom – they are capable – so many safe cleaning options for kids to use now) and room tidying up. I wish I could say their rooms are always clean, but I tend to prefer just not looking at them – denial.
With all this time at home now, I’m hoping to tackle some actual projects (I admit it, I still need to sort and pack up some Christmas that has been thrown into the guest room!)
For those of you with littles, please do not think you need to fill their day with entertainment or a strict schedule. Read, read, read with them! If you are working from home, there are so many different reading aloud opportunities now where people read books online to your kids. Children need to be bored for those creative juices to flow. My youngest loves creating things – especially when given a cardboard box, markers, and some tape (so don’t toss your Amazon boxes!). It’s pretty amazing to see what they come up with! Let them pluck a few leaves off trees and bushes then do rubbings with crayons, trace their hands and let them create crazy creatures and monsters. I’m all about keeping it simple – sorry, I don’t do glitter. Do presentation videos so they can “show” their creations to family members who may be isolated during this time as well.
Get outside with them! They don’t need a swanky nature journal.
Mine love just stapling printer paper together and then using it to draw. Go let them draw what they see: a bird, a tree, a little bug on a leaf. Observe and compare different animals. Maybe gather up some nature items and let them be creative with them. My youngest came in one day with a little “boat” she created from a chunk of bark, a leaf, and a twig. She then proceeded to create a whole science experiment with it – testing it in a sheet pan full of water to see if it would sink – in waves, rain (spray bottle), and wind (fan). If you have a nice pile of dirt, let them create a marble run through it, then run their marbles to race. The options are endless in nature!
Use this time to do a bit of detox from the norm. Please shed the burden of expectations! Flex a bit and see what works best for your family.
What you see one family doing may not be what works best for your kids. See what interests them the most. Reach out to other moms for support – whether via Facetime, over coffee, or a chat across the fence. Even though we are social distancing ourselves, we don’t need to be cut off and isolated.
Use this time to your benefit, reconnect as a family and grow closer together. As parents, so much of our time has been consumed with other things. We have been given the gift of time now.
How are you going to spend it?
Homeschool days are not always glorious and smooth. PLEASE give yourself grace and adjust and learn as you go. There’s no perfect formula for it. Some days we have to stop everything and work on heart issues.
That’s OK. Do what you need to do, that’s best for your kids and your family!
You want to THRIVE, not just SURVIVE during this time.
Most of all, lean into your community – family, friends, neighbors – from afar, of course, it’ll have to do for now! Best wishes, stay healthy, and please don’t hesitate to reach out to me with any questions.
I might not have the answer, but I’ve got an amazing global community of families on this journey. You are not alone.
Julie Welch – email@example.com
Homeschool mom still learning something new every day.