One thing’s for sure right now: these are challenging times. Schools across the world are shut, potentially for the remainder of the academic year, and parents are working from home wherever possible in order to limit the spread of COVID-19.
This means many parents are faced with the prospect of homeschooling for the first time ever.
Where do you start?
Search the web and you’ll find plenty of advice for homeschooling parents. But quarantine homeschool — where you can’t leave the house and you have your own workload to manage as well — is a very different scenario. It requires extra care and attention, to make sure everyone in the family is having their needs met.
You need to work, the kids need to learn… and how do you do both at the same time? It all comes down to having a solid routine and schedule in place.
Here, we’ve combined the best advice from both veteran and newly-recruited homeschool parents to help you create an achievable quarantine homeschool schedule.
Why is a schedule important?
Uncertainty can be scary for kids, as well as adults, and routine helps everything feel a little more predictable and under control. But how much routine is realistic or necessary?
There’s already a color-coded homeschool schedule doing the rounds on social media.
Looks great, doesn’t it? But this granularity may not work for everyone. And a number of other parents have posted their own “true-to-life” alternatives in response.
Aiming for something in between these two examples is probably wise. Kids should get up, eat, and sleep at the same times as usual to keep things consistent.
What you schedule between those times — and how and when you tackle the homeschooling part of the day — will depend a lot on your particular circumstances. But here are a few things to consider.
While it’s ok to weave a few pajama days and movie marathons into your week, picking a start time for the day and sticking to it helps to ensure your kids’ motivation (and yours too).
But don’t feel restricted by the hours of a standard school day. It might be that mornings are the best time for you to get your work done. In that case, class can start in the afternoon.
Just make sure everyone is on the same page, knowing what is expected of them, and when.
Marking the start of the school day
Transitioning from self-led, play activities to formal homeschool time can be a challenge for kids. Planning the right transition tasks (something they actually enjoy) will help them to make the switch.
Singing songs or playing collaborative games in a homeschool “circle time” works well for younger children. Older kids and teens might like to take part in a mini-meeting, sitting down with a snack, and talking over the activities you’ve got planned for the ‘school’ day.
Or, like this mom, wake up body and mind by getting kids involved in an exercise session right before class.
How long to focus on academic work
Courtney Ostaff, of Good Enough Homeschool, has been homeschooling her 6 and 12 year old children for years. She works to the rule that you should spend 15 minutes homeschooling for each year of your child’s life.
Her 6 year old gets 90 minutes of tuition, and her 12 year old gets three hours of tuition every weekday.
To parents feeling concerned that this doesn’t equate to a full school day, keep in mind that one-on-one homeschool time amounts to much more input than your child would get in a class full of children.
And to parents worried that they’ll never fit that much time around their own professional responsibilities, treat these timings as the ideal, rather than the essential level of homeschool time required.
Which topics to tackle first
There’s no right answer to this one.
Others think their children’s minds need a little time to warm up. So instead they schedule topics their students have a particular flair for, before moving onto subjects they don’t find so easy.
Throughout your experience as a part-time homeschooler, you’ll get a sense of what works best for your children and be able to adapt a schedule to suit them. That’s what’s really important.
The best resources for homeschooling
This family is off to a great start with homeschooling.
For those who don’t happen to have a teacher in the family, your child’s school is likely providing remote learning resources online.
That’s an excellent place to start. But if computer systems aren’t working so well, or there just isn’t enough work to fill your schedule, you need to find additional ideas.
Going to the bookstore or the library may be off-limits for the moment. But luckily you can find excellent resources, like KidsKonnect worksheets, covering all topics and age groups, available to download right away.
Planning time for fun is essential!
It’s important to remember that children can learn just as much from play, as they do from their school books.
Be sure to plan some downtime into your quarantine homeschool schedule. Playing with their favorite toys, a dance party, building dens, even doing a little baking can provide much-needed fun for all the family.
Even a little bit of screen time isn’t the end of the world — especially if you need to get your head down and do some work of your own.
Taking stock at the end of the day
Your quarantine homeschool journey is a work in progress. You’ll make mistakes; some things will work for your kids others won’t.
Like any good teacher, it’s a great idea to take stock of successes and failures as you go. Then tweak your schedule and activities accordingly.
Don’t beat yourself up if things don’t go to plan. These are unprecedented times and all we can do as newbie homeschoolers, parents, and people is try our best.
Ready for school?
We hope this article has given you a little inspiration for planning an achievable quarantine homeschool schedule. In these unique circumstances, use your schedule as a guide but keep things flexible and try to enjoy this extra time with your kids.
Also, remember that with a subscription to KidsKonnect, you get access to thousands of worksheets at the click of a button, making your homeschool planning that little bit easier.
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Link will appear as How to create an achievable quarantine homeschool schedule (with examples from other parents doing just that): https://kidskonnect.com - KidsKonnect, April 2, 2020