First I want to say how grateful I am to be able to work from home and how thankful I am that I am able to even do this for my kids. To the parents who are struggling right now, my heart goes out to you. I can't even imagine how difficult this time must be for you now. I am truly sorry for what you an your family are enduring right now and am sending you so much love and blessings. Hang in there. This is not a forever thing. You can make it through this.
That being said, all parents, I have been updating my resource list for the past few days. Many of the resources I have included are online based or are even educational YouTube channels. So if all you can do is sit your kid in front of a screen while you work or take care of things, please check out some of those resources so they can get something out of their screen time.
Here is a little sample schedule of what we did at home during the beginning. Technically, my sons were on spring break so we were very relaxed and fluid on time. Things got done when they got done. That's the beauty of homeschooling, you can work on a schedule that works best for you. I tried to spend at least 20 - 30 minutes on each subject, but if we were really enjoying ourselves we worked for an hour or more. So while I have shared a schedule, I haven't included any times because it all sort of happened when it happened.
Morning Meeting - My kids insisted on this because it is something that they do every day at school. I have told them that this will not be exactly like school but I still want to maintain some sense of normalcy with them. It has actually been a great inclusion so I'm happy they insisted on it. We usually have our meeting over breakfast. We talk about what we will do today and discuss any important updates I feel are appropriate to share with them.
Journals - After they have eaten and we have done our meeting it is time to write in journals for 20 minutes. This is something I did with them over the summer as well. I will give them a writing prompt, but they are allowed to free write about whatever they like too. The point is to get them thinking, imagining, and writing. I read and edit their work when they are done to help them with grammar and spelling.
Here are a few prompt ideas:
If you could have any superpower what would it be and how would you use it?
If you could be any animal what would you be? Why? What would you do?
What is something you are proud of?
You are a chef in a cooking competition. What do you make as your winning dish?
Describe your best day ever.
What is your favorite book? Why?
Where would you take a dream vacation? What would you do?
Snack - My kids are in elementary school so they still get a snack time. At this point I will ask them if they are hungry for something and encourage them to finish their breakfast if they haven't already or give them a snack. If they aren't hungry we just move on. We're at home so if they want to stop to eat later that is perfectly fine with me.
Special 1 - At my kids' school they have a "special" every day; Library, Computer, Art, Gym, and Music. Over the summer I also included Science Experiments, Foreign Language, Coding, and Dance. I have been trying to go along with the specials they do at school to make this experience a bit more comfortable for them, but I give them the option to switch a special for something else if they want. In school they typically have Gym 3 times a week, so getting active is something we do every day. It also gets their Dad more involved as well, giving me time to do my work.
Reading - We spend at least 20 minutes reading and then have a discussion about what we read. Here are some questions my kid's teacher sent to us to help encourage thoughtful discussion:
Characters & Setting
Who are the characters in the story?
Who do you think the story is mostly about?
Who is the main character in the story?
Name the setting from the story.
Is there only one setting or does the setting change in this story? How do you know?
Find words in the story that tell you about the setting.
Describe the setting of the story to me using details from the story.
Tell me in one word what the story is mostly about.
Tell me in a sentence what the story is mostly about.
What is the main idea of the story?
Does the title of the story help you know the main idea? Explain why or why not.
Is there something that is repeated over and over in the story? What is it?
What happened after ____________?
What happened before ___________?
Tell me what happened in the story from start to finish.
Tell me the beginning, middle, and end of the story.
Was the sequence important in this story or could the events have happened in a different order and still made sense? Explain.
Problem & Solution
What was a problem in the story?
What was a solution in the story?
Do you have other ideas for how the problem could have been solved?
What would you have done to solve the problem?
Did the character try to solve the problem with any ways that did not work?
Inferring with Characters & Emotions
How was the character feeling when ____ happened? How do you know?
Which words in the story help you infer how the character was feeling?
How would you feel is ____ happened to you? Do you think the character felt the same way? How do you know?
Connections & Opinions
Did this story remind you of something in your own life? Tell me about it.
Can you make any connections to this story or these characters? Tell me about them.
Was there something in this story that you liked or didn't like? What was it? Why did you like it or not like it?
How did this story make you feel? Why?
What are the main ideas of the story? How do you know?
Lunch - My kids are usually hungry around this time so we take a break to eat. Their "recess" is usually them playing outside with my husband or helping him with yard work.
Special 2 - Now we will do the other special. If we did Juju's first, it is now Blaze's turn or visa versa.
Writer's Workshop - This was something Blaze insisted on (which I find sort of funny because he actually hates journaling). The kids are given a topic to focus on for the week and write about it.
Meditation or Yoga - I wanted to finish off the day with a meditation or yoga, but so far my kids have been super against it. By this time they are usually ready to go back outside and play with their dad so I typically let it go. Maybe you will have better luck. I think that it is very important for us to practice mindfulness, especially during times of unease and crisis. I really like the meditations by New Horizon Holistic Centre on Spotify, but I typically use them when I want my kids to go to bed or take a nap. Cosmic Kids Yoga on YouTube has some really fun yoga videos.
Now that break is over and it looks like we will be homeschooling for longer than initially expected, I've developed a more regimented and sustainable schedule. I have added times, but we are still doing things a bit later than we normally would so that I have time in the morning to get some work done uninterrupted and prepare for the day. This is just what we are doing in our home for a 1st and 3rd grader. You may take this and alter however you need to for it to work in your family.
Some notes about the schedule:
I bought the boys all inclusive curriculum workbooks that I have them work on each day.
I allow them to play Prodigy for 30 minutes each day because I am able to track their progress and see what kinds of math problems they are struggling with and need more instruction on. It is also a really fun way for them to learn and practice Math.
Art; Crafts is focused on doing craft projects like Easter decorations and the usual construction paper crafts they come home with. Art; Skills is centered around showing them different crafts such as sewing by hand and machine, crocheting, building, and perhaps even barbering if my husband is feeling up to showing them.
I am still waiting on the school to give out work packets. Our schedule may change depending on what they provide us with.
Creator's Workshop is our adjusted version of Blaze's Writer's Workshop. The kids are allowed to focus on some creative project such as building a house in Minecraft or designing a clothing line. They have to start by brainstorming on paper what they want to do for their project, write out the materials needed to make their project, and figure out the steps to get their project done. They can work on the same project however long they need to complete it, but at the end of every class they have to write about what they accomplished that day and what they need to work on next. I'm oversimplifying this a bit for the sake of this post, it doesn't always go very smoothly, but it is something I'm determined to stick with it. It gets the kids to practice their writing, planning, and problem solving skills while also cultivate their personal interests.
The boys normally have P.E. 3 times a week at school, but we decided to have it every day to make sure they are getting plenty of physical activity at home. Having worked at home for 2 years now, I know how easy it is to get soft and squishy from lack of activity.
Lastly, I am working at the same time I am teaching my kids. Sometimes I am way too busy to do the more hands on activities like art, so I move around things throughout the day as I need to in order to get my own work done. Moving Reading Times is my go-to method of buying myself more time.
I hope this helps other parents during this stressful time. Don't feel bad and just do the best you can. No, you may not be as good as their teacher at school, but you ARE as good as parent who now has to do two--possibly three--jobs at the same time; parent, teacher, and employee. Give yourself some grace and take it one day, one hour, one minute at the time. Take solace in knowing that the entire world is going through this right now and so we will ALL collectively need to make sure our children get what they need to succeed. Your child will not be left behind.