A Flexible At-Home Schedule for Teaching At-Home
As soon as I reached the realization that we would all be stuck inside – together – for hours, days and weeks at a time, I knew I had to get my head in the game. If I didn’t approach this positively and proactively, the system and structure of our house would crumble like a wet sugar cube.
My older kids aren’t the issue – my 5-year-old is a different story.
Her insatiable appetite for activity and creativity would be the end of me. I knew it from the start. There’s only so much TV time and iPad that I can feel good about. I also know that at some point she’s going to say those dreaded words “I’m bored” and I’d need a plan.
Rather than wait for the poo to hit the quarantined-fan, I got proactive. I created a schedule that would keep us both engaged and active. Most importantly, she still learning. And not just learning every song imaginable on Disney+, but actually learning.
Before getting to the schedule, I want to point out that we get dressed for school. Sophia changes out of her pajamas, my husband helps her get her backpack all packed up with her folder and snack, and he drops her off at the entrance to the dining room (our school room). I greet her like a student, "Good morning, Sophia! Welcome to school! How was your night? What did you do? Tell me all about it."
She loves this.
As she unpacks her things, Sophia recalls some of what we did the night before, and leaves out a fair amount, which is what I'm sure she does with her teacher at school. One day she even brought me an apple - so cute!
Once Sophia finishes unpacking, we're officially in gear and ready to get started.
Here's what one of our days looks like:
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* Sometimes Music is replaced by Special Activity. This can be Show and Tell ( we all brought something to share), board games, puzzles, etc., or you can default to Music and Movement so that your child can get down to some Laurie Berkner. Sophia’s older sister, Alyssa, becomes Miss Alyssa for Music, which also gives Mom a break!
** We set up about 12 books in our den, and Sophia is met by her older sister who is now, Miss Lauren, the librarian. Sophia picks out 3 books and Miss Lauren reads to her while her teacher (read: mom) turns into the cafeteria lady and makes lunch for everyone.
*** My husband is the gym teacher. He takes Sophia out to run around, ride bikes, play catch, practice golf, run relay races, and so on. You wouldn’t be wrong to assume that I happily handed the torch to him for this job.
Breaks generally include coloring books, Lego building, and, yes, iPad time. This is your child's time to unwind for a few minutes, so allow a little reasonable freedom.
If you need some ideas art projects, check out my Easy Art Projects board on Pinterest.
All of this may look like a lot, but I promise you that your day will fly by because it’s structured. Trust me, I’m a teacher. I live my school-life in 30-minute increments, and it soars.
My husband comes to "pick Sophia up from school," and he goes through her backpack. Just like we always do. I join them as soon as I'm done picking up and we look at her work like I've never seen it before. Humble brag: my daughter brought home an A+ on her first spelling test!
But, I digress. On top the academics, fun, and engagement going on, following this schedule allows for so many opportunities for you to get a break, which just isn’t always the case when your child is suddenly bored and needs you for every. little. thing. imaginable.
I use my break time for productive things like laundry, updating my online curriculum for my students with special needs, and checking work email; and super important things like checking social media. Who’s going to judge? No one, because no one is around but you and your happily, occupied child.
Having a work area that can house all of your materials is super helpful in removing the stress of always having to hunt things down.
Right now, kids are looking for structure and they want to feel anchored. I’m not saying that you have to drill your child with hardcore academics, but I am saying that keeping kids on a schedule gives them the security of knowing what to expect.
Of course, there’s flexibility – after all, it’s your school, so play around with ideas and figure out a plan that works for you.
Your child might surprise you, like Sophia surprised me: when I told her that I was going to make the day little shorter so that she would be all done a little after lunch, she said, “No! I want to be in school all day!” She said she wants to do it on Saturday, too. I told her that, unfortunately, school is closed on the weekends. This teacher needs her weekends.
I told my husband that I think to her, she’s entered the ultimate game of make-believe. She pretends this is a school, I’m her teacher, dad is the gym teacher, and it’s all fun and games.
Hang in there – you’re doing a great job!