Although I’m not an expert on how to educate a full classroom of kids, I am the token homeschool friend for several moms. That said, I’ve gotten a few calls and emails. Whether you find yourself home educating full time, or if you’re trying to also juggle working from home, I have a few ideas and suggestions.
Before you do anything, talk to your kids about the coronavirus. There’s a lot of people feeling fearful and panicked, and that can transfer to our kids. Explain what they can do to help keep your family healthy by avoiding public outings and frequently washing hands with soap.
Do a quick and easy experiment with them to show how important it is to use soap:
- Fill one bowl with water and a second bowl with a few squirts of liquid hand soap.
- Shake a generous amount of black pepper into the bowl of water.
- Have your child put their finger into the bowl of water with pepper. They should notice the pepper sticks to their finger.
- Have them rub a finger into the second bowl with soap.
- Once their finger is covered with soap, have them put it back into the bowl with pepper.
They should observe the pepper pushing away from the soapy finger. Explain the pepper is like germs. Just rinsing with water will not remove them.
Check it out, you just did science for the day!
Seriously, the best advice I have is to just to have fun and enjoy your kids. Play games, read books, build puzzles and love on your kids! I know you don’t want your kids to fall behind in school, or lose progress in academics. I completely understand. Maybe your working from home and need them to keep busy without plopping them in front of a television or electronic device. I definitely understand. I have some suggestions for all of that, so keep reading.
Create a schedule:
Kids are used to schedules, and most thrive with them. Set times for waking up, meals, academic studies, nap/quiet reading in their room, chore time, and creative free time. A schedule will be especially helpful for parents working from home. When there’s a clear schedule posted, kids will do better respecting time boundaries of when you need to work.
If you’re working from home with younger children, may God give you an extra portion of grace and mercy. Seriously, let them sleep in so you can work early. Take advantage of nap time. If they don’t nap, require an hour of quiet reading in their room. On a busier workday, have creative free play be a quiet activity like building leggos or K’nex. Reward those times when you’re not interrupted with sibling spats or other unnecessary issues.
You are qualified to teach your children! There is nobody that loves and cares for your children more than you. If you’re feeling challenged or overwhelmed, hang in there because you can do this.
Many are surprised to learn homeschooling is not setting up a model of public school in your home. Not only does homeschooling not look like a classroom, we only spend time on academics a few hours per day. Seriously, don’t overdo it. It varies with age and number of children.
- Play games. Even the simplest games are going to teach kids how to take turns. Search your shelves for games that teach what is age-appropriate for your kids. Good old fashioned board games are fun and educational.
- Build puzzles and they will be working on concentration, patience, eye-hand coordination, and motor skills.
- Go outside. Play in the yard or walk around the block. Our kids need to get outside for fresh air, sunshine, and movement, and that can be done while following the recommendations of proximity to others.
- Read to your kids. Regardless of age, kids enjoy sharing a good story. Choose quality books. If you don’t have a home library, see if your public library is open or offering curbside pick up. There are many online services offering e-reader and/or audio options.
- Bake a double batch of cookies. Have your kids practice fractions by doing the math for doubling each ingredient.
- Life skills are essential and kids need to know how to cook, clean and do many daily tasks. Get them involved in sorting and washing laundry. Practice home finances by having them help you plan and cook a meal. Figure out what it cost to make the meal and compare it to the expense of eating out.
If you feel you need an official curriculum, there are online resources. Some school districts are setting up virtual classrooms. You can also order multi-subject workbooks. The only ones I have used in the past and liked are Comprehensive Curriculum for Basic Skills, and those can be ordered by grade level through Amazon or ChristianBooks.com.
Activities and printables you can find online:
- Confessions Of A Homeschool Mom has printables for preschool and early elementary.
- Starfall Education has online activities for preschool and early elementary. They do have an option to join, but it is not required for all activities.
- Enchanted Learning is a membership site with worksheets and activities. There is limited access for non-members.
- Home School Share offers an abundance of resources and directions for unit studies.
- DLTK’s Crafts for Kids offers a variety of printable crafts and activities.
Not knowing how long your kids will be out of school makes it challenging to plan. Another option is utilizing SchoolhouseTeacher.com (affiliate link). They have courses for every subject and grade, and are currently offering a three-month special! I won’t lie to you, this site has so much amazing information it will initially seem overwhelming. My recommendation is to check out the information in the scope and sequence under the planning tab. Look at the courses for your children by grade or subject, and see if it’s a good fit for you.
Suddenly becoming a homeschool family may still feel like a shock. Don’t stress because you are going to do great. Right now your kids are watching to see how you handle this unscheduled life interruption. Take a breath and show them you’ve got this!