Our regular patterns of work and school are interrupted for most of us, and many families now have an extraordinary amount of time at home together. While this time together is a gift, any changes in our normal schedules can be stressful. One path through this new stress is through finding our new normal, setting new routines, and keeping up with as much normalcy as possible.
I was an elementary school teacher for thirteen years in Oregon, and I amassed some great resources to be able to help families during this at-home learning time. As a teacher, and now as a private tutor and educational consultant in Texas, I love to help teachers and families work together to create the best learning environments, advocate for individualized education plans, and empower home and school teams to best educate their children.
If your family is now home for the foreseeable future, please check out my ideas, recommendations, and resources for educating your family.
*Create a Schedule
-Going to bed and getting up at the same time, having a plan for the day, and sticking to a consistent routine will help the feeling of organization and intentionality.
-How to create a schedule? Think in terms of blocks of time and write out tasks and events. Write out the day’s schedule on a piece of paper, chalkboard, dry erase board or even a mirror. Simply place it in a spot where everyone can see it. You could even turn this into a fun project, order a strip of magnets and glue small strips onto the backs of a picture of each event. Take a look at my Pinterest page for some more ideas!
-When creating your family’s new schedule, make sure to build in healthy habits for everyone, including yourself. You may not be able to workout at your normal gym or studio right now, but building in time for your own health is essential for everyone’s health.
-A sample schedule for young kids might look like,
7-8am Wake up, breakfast, brush teeth, get dressed
8-9am Reading time
9-10am Academic time
10-11am Creative time
11am-12pm Lunch and Recess
12:30-1:30pm Quiet time
1:30-2:30pm Academic time
2:30-3:30pm Activity time
3:30-4:30pm Academic time
4:30-5:30pm Dinner prep and screen time
6:30-7:30pm Reading time
7:30-8:30pm Baths and bedtime
* Resources for At-Home Education
There are many different options as far as teaching children at home. Your school district may provide some resources, and given how long you may be teaching those babies at home, there are even some terrific home-school curriculums to purchase. In the meantime, here are some free resources to cover the major curricular areas that are covered in school.
–Teachers Pay Teachers, excellent site for teacher-designed and standards-aligned curriculum, simply search the topic or concept and you’ll find lessons made and used by teachers, very easy to download and use the virtual option or to print the paper version
–List of virtual field tips from some of the world’s top museums
–List of education companies providing free subscriptions
–Go Noodle, get up and get moving! Super fun interactive site for helping kids with brain breaks, fitness and games all based around fun physical activity
–Science Mom, entertaining videos about a wide variety of scientific topics and experiments
–Mystery Doug, free K-5 science lessons and mini-lessons
–National Geographic for Kids, SUCH a great resource, everything from videos to articles, interactive
–Story Time Online, such a fun site! Check out videos of celebrities reading books, great idea when you can’t get to the local library.
–Squiggle Park– game-based reading comprehension, designed for a small amount of time every week and targeted to helping increase reading comprehension
–List of non-screen activities to do at home
–Khan Academy– many early learning lessons and activities on most curricular topics
–Prodigy– great math site, aligned with standards, game-based learning and adaptive to each child’s mathematical needs
–Typing Club– good way to help kids learn touch typing
–History for Kids– wide variety of social studies topics with articles and activities
–Scholastic, free reading lessons and curriculum for at-home learning
–Resources for at-home learning from the incredible organization, Decoding Dyslexia
–Art lessons, including supply lists and daily interactive videos
–Activate Studio, online word science classes and more
*How to Actually Teach Your Kids, haha!
So you aren’t a teacher, yet now you’re home and actually having to have semblance of education, how in the holy cow pastures will this even happen? Don’t panic! Like I said earlier, start with a schedule, for the good of yourself and the rest of the family. During the academic time on your schedule, you’ll want to create a plan to study each of the normal topics (reading, writing, math, social studies, science, art). You don’t have to cover every curricular area every day. At school, your children will have math and reading everyday and the other topics will alternate. Maybe one week is a social studies unit with lessons and a project, and the next week you’ll teach a science unit.
Most of the sites above have lessons divided by specific ages and grade levels, so you’ll be able to design lessons based on your child’s grade level. If your child has special needs, and is consistently achieving above or below level, you’ll want to adjust the lessons so your child can learn at the appropriate level. It’s difficult to explain how to do that here, so please reach out either to an educator in your social circle, or to me and I will be happy to help you implement lessons that best help your child.
Another recommendation I have for at-home learning is to keep your Academic Time separate from regular family time. Set up a specific location in your home for your new school area and keep it stocked with all your academic supplies (things like pencils, colored pencils, pencil sharpener, paper, post-its, etc…). If you like crafts or want a fun project, print out or make some academic signs and posters to hang on the walls in your designated school zone.
Teachers often welcome their students into a new learning day, so think about some way to signal the beginning of your learning time, like playing or singing a special song or greeting your children by the school zone with a special handshake/hug.
Teachers also build in a transition time when students arrive, so think about a mini-routine to get your kids in school-mode when Academic Time begins. I would usually have a handwriting practice packet or math facts packet or a social studies worksheet for the kids to work on while everyone gets settled. It doesn’t have to be pointless busy work, just something that the kids can independently work on to change their mindset into learning-mode.The website, Teachers Pay Teachers is an excellent source for something like this. These practices will help everyone transition from playing and annoying their siblings to focusing on learning and school behavior.
Best of luck in the coming weeks, have fun with this gift of extra time together, take care of you so you can best care for them! Stay safe and sane, sis!