Just like a lot of you, my family is suddenly practicing a version of homeschooling. We are working from home and schooling at home while quarantined together 24 hours a day 7 days a week.
I asked on social media if you’d be interested in a post about our homeschool journey. A few people responded saying YES they’d want it. If this helps even one person… let’s do it!
First, some background
- I am a certified (K-8) teacher in the state of Arizona.
- I have 16 years of experience (mostly in 5-8th grade).
- I am a registered substitute teacher.
- I am currently homeschooling 2 kids, 5th grade and 9th grade.
- My kiddos have an online curriculum and support from their teachers/school district.
Why did I tell you that?
- Not all of you have that kind of support, and I’m aware of that.
- Not all of you have that background or training.
- Not all of you have kids this age. It makes a difference. The older the child the easier it is for them to work independently. Keep that in mind.
Before we start
Here’s what I need you to remember…
- Teaching, Parenting, and Working are ALL full time jobs. Expecting us to do all 3 in a day is practically impossible. We are being asked to do the impossible. Don’t beat yourself up when you slip (because you will).
- If you or your child gets overwhelmed… STOP and change directions. It can be a little change or a drastic change, but CHANGE.
My plan for today is to give you the schedule my kids are using and my rationale for why we’re doing it the way we are. PLEASE ask me questions if you have them. I can’t promise I have answers, but I’m here to support you and I CAN promise to try!
7:00-8:00 Wake up, shower, dress, eat breakfast, clean up breakfast
My kiddos wake up with alarm clocks (like normal). We picked 7:00 because if we’re all going to work from home, we may as well have a decent start time… right? We encourage them to do their regular morning routine here (put on deodorant, brush teeth, etc). They also eat breakfast and clean up from their own breakfast (also typical). They are given this hour. If it takes less than an hour to get ready (it does) they have the rest of the time for an activity of their choice.
8:00-9:30 Schoolwork Session (1 of 4)
This 90 minute block is our first big work time.
Remember, my kids have work and support from their school. During this block they are allowed to choose what subject they want to work on and where they will work. There are a variety of places at home they can sit or stand (we found them all together). They each have a little notebook (alright, honestly, it’s half an old recycled notebook that already had notes in it) where they record the date and what they are supposed to do. They put a checkmark next to it when it’s actually done.
They work the full 90 minutes (we set a timer).
This may sound obvious (to you) but kids need you to say it… they are allowed to get up to use the restroom, get a drink, or stretch without having to ask.
During this time my husband and I are working from home. One of us is physically nearby to encourage the kiddos to ask questions if they have it. If they’re asking too many, we pause and find a video on the topic. If they haven’t asked any in a long time, we check on them and make sure they’re actually doing something.
We haven’t had this problem yet… but a kiddo found off task would need to sit where I can see their screen.
Get up, put the work away, and do something physical. My son is in high school and his teacher has provided him with a bunch of 30 minute workouts that are “no equipment required” ideas. Unless your kiddo is really small (kinder) and can’t do this without you… let them do it alone!
We turn on a YouTube video of some kind of workout (so far it’s been Power Yoga and Hip Hop Dance) and they just have fun moving. They’ve picked to do it in the living room both days so far (we move the coffee table) but I told them they can also go outside or in the garage if they want.
It’s not about them “doing it right” here. It’s about moving.
Want something simple? Let them create their own routine! Even little kids can do this. Run in place, jumping jacks, pushups. Are your kids already pretty sporty? Let them practice their sport of choice.
10:00-11:30 Schoolwork Session 2
Exactly the same as Session 1 except you get a snack at your table if you want it.
11:30-12:00 Household Chore
The way we explained this one is that for the next few weeks, this is the place where you’ll do everything. There is no janitorial staff at this school. We have to do it.
So this 30 minutes is a chance for you to help out!
They can either find something that needs to be done or we can… but they’re going to do something for 30 minutes.
We thought there would be push-back on this one. I was all ready with my speeches about why this is important and how they will help. I didn’t need them. Turns out reminding them that we don’t have a janitorial staff was enough.
This is my children’s first experience with an hour for lunch. Why did I choose to give them an hour?
- Because I can.
- Because I want an hour.
- Because they have to heat something, eat it, and clean it up.
Again, we have a list of things you can have without having to ask. Some of them are just heat and go (leftovers), some are grab and go (sandwich), some require more work (chicken tenders, can of soup). Younger kids will need you to help them make this. It’s important to let them help! This is the kind of hands-on experiences that make homeschool stronger.
Any of their hour that is left after they make, eat, and clean up lunch is their time. They can use it for whatever they’d like. Honestly, they’ve both really enjoyed that. My husband and I can also use this time to eat or (if we get really busy) we can work right through our lunch. Either way, it’s a win.
1:00-2:30 Schoolwork Session 3
Exactly like the other 2 (no snack because we just had lunch).
I found my kiddos were the least productive during this block (not a surprise). This isn’t a problem. But, when you look at those notebooks with them (the ones that tell you what they got done) this is a good place to have a conversation about tricky topics.
2:30-3:30 Personal Activity Time
You’re all going to be together 24 hours a day 7 days a week. You need time when it’s acceptable to go off and be by yourself. This is that time.
The kids get an hour to pick something to do, alone. We told ours it had to be non-electronic simply because their schoolwork is all online. They can color, read, draw, practice a sport, write a story, take a nap, or even bake (my son is in culinary classes). But they get to do it alone.
There are some kids (my daughter) who are not particularly good at this. They like structure. For her, we suggest activities. She goes off and does one and then comes back. Even with these little interruptions, I get a LOT of work done during this hour. This time is so important for kids. No school work, just relaxing and doing something you choose.
3:30-4:30 Schoolwork Session 4
This is the final school session and it’s only 60 minutes. As I explained it to my kids, this is the time you’d normally spend on homework. Basically, it’s your last push for the day to get things done. Good time for that video you found when you paused the stressful assignment from earlier.
Younger kiddos probably won’t have enough schoolwork to push through this last session. They may have already finished it. For those kids, let them start a passion project. What is something they love? Let them research it and work on that.
They like cars? Let them watch YouTube videos about cars and tell you about it.
They like gardening? Let them look up what they would need to start a garden at home.
They like books? Let them write one.
Schoolwork doesn’t have to be worksheets… that’s the mindset some of us need to switch up (because it’s what we were taught). Exploring a topic of our choice just because we love it is absolutely learning… and it’s important!
This can be reading a book for school (my son has an assigned one) or reading a book you choose. The important part is that you find a comfy spot, drop everything else, and read for 30 minutes. No rules, parents, just read. Let them pick the book (even if it’s a comic book or a magazine).
If you are done working for the day, the BEST way to set this example is to be the example. Grab your book and join them!
For younger kiddos or non readers, try audiobooks. You can borrow them from many local libraries even while the library is not open. Kiddos can sit on the couch with headphones on and listen to a story (they can even close their eyes to picture it).
If you’re not burned out yet… this can be a family affair. Kids can help in the kitchen if you need/want it. Don’t feel terrible if you don’t want them helping. Some days maybe they help cook, some days maybe they help set the table, some days maybe you let them watch TV to give you a little break. Whatever works for you!
After dinner remember that school may be over but you all have the evening together too. Resist the urge to make them do homework… you already did that during your hour schoolwork session.
To fill the rest of the evening, do something as a family: play a game, take a walk, ride bikes, build a puzzle, play a sport.
No matter what happens, keep these things in mind:
- You did the best you could
- Tomorrow is a new day
- You love your kids
Alright, that’s our homeschool schedule.
I hope it gave you a little help/insight. I’ll try to remember to post about our homeschool journey as we all go through this together.
Drop any questions (specific or not) you still have in the comments and I’ll do my best to help you out!
Thanks for being here and STAY SAFE!