I think most of you know I’ve been homeschooling for 9 years now. NINE. I can’t even believe that! But, from the dumpster fire that was my first few months, I have risen as a phoenix and have a few tips so that hopefully, you can enjoy this time with your kids as much as possible.
1. HAVE A PLAN
Now, this doesn’t have to be an insanely detailed plan. A general schedule is helpful for older children, something like a checklist for them to complete before they dare to utter the words, “I’m bored,” at you. For younger children, we used to use the “shoebox method” of organizing, but to do it for free, number some paper bags and put activities in them the night before. Worksheets from Teacher Pay Teachers (set it to free), puzzles, board games, paper and pencil to write a note to grandma, a book (or a book and help logging in to audible so they can follow the pictures or words and have it read to them if you’re telecommuting), anything at all. For online activities, print out a picture of the computer and tell them when they find one, you’ll help them with it.
Trying to come up with everything on the fly is way more stressful than spending 10 minutes the night before printing a checklist or loading some bags up.
2. LET THEM WORK
Your children are capable of a lot of things, and you should take advantage of them. Is learning to run and fold laundry fun? Nope. But, it’s better than being the guy at my college who bleached all his brand new J. Crew clothes the first day of school. Put chores on your schedule/list/in your bags. Not sure what your kids should be able to do at a given age? Check out this list for help. If you have elementary or older children, there is some component of lunch and dinner they can make, if not the whole meal. ESPECIALLY if you’re telecommuting, let your kids help! They’ll be proud of themselves and busy!
3. TAKE ADVANTAGE OF ONLINE LEARNING
If you’re too busy working to teach, don’t want to teach, or don’t feel capable of teaching, take advantage of the many online resources offering free programs during the school shutdown. Helpful hint: take 5 minutes up front to walk through a new program with your child and teach them how to log in and use the various parts of the program. That way going forward they can work independently and won’t interrupt you every time they want to use a new feature.
This is a great time to have your kids try on everything in their drawers (one drawer at a time) and set aside items to donate. People in nursing homes and hospitals are limited or prohibited from having visitors right now. Why not make some drawings or cards for them? Did you hoard all the chicken in the grocery store? Do a little research an sign up to drop off some meals to somewhere like Streetlight Ministries once the social distancing advisory is listed. Your frozen meat is only good for 4 months.
5. OUTSIDE AND GOING OUT ARE DIFFERENT
Staying away from crowded spaces is different then staying inside all the time. Take walks as a family, send your children out to your swingset, or even send them on a springtime scavenger hunt or to pick wildflowers. Plastic Easter Eggs don’t have to be filled to be fun, let the kids take turns hiding and seeking them in the yard. Ride bikes, and enjoy the fresh air!
There are lots of people around to help you! Ask for help from a homeschooler friend who might have new ideas, tag off with your spouse, whatever you need to do. Also, schedule some “Quiet Time” into every day where everyone goes to their room for a developmentally appropriate amount of time to chill. It helps.