Hi friends. Wow. These are crazy, heavy times. By now you've seen the news and are aware that, even if your children's schools aren't officially closed yet it will be a matter of time before they are. And frankly, if you are at all able to keep kids home despite schools being open, you should. I am not a medical authority or scientist and this post does not serve to give medical advice, but rather I am here to share my ideas for homeschooling my young children during this period of social distancing.
I am not a teacher and am not claiming to be any type of authority on homeschooling. I am just a mom with a lot of hope and positivity that I want to share. Throughout this time, I will be consulting with my children's teachers and preschool director, as well as teacher-friends from all over, with more ideas. I would love y'all to stick around, share your thoughts, and learn and grow alongside us while we ride this thing out...
Here's what's on deck for now!
Have a (LOOSE) Daily Schedule (more samples will be on instagram!)
Within hours of our preschool announcing closures for the indefinite future, a note from my two-year-0ld's teacher reminded me that we can do this. That children thrive on routine and schedules and that even though I am (quite!) free-spirited, I am capable of giving them what they need with some sort of (bendable) structure to their days.
The schedule is not broken down hour by hour (except for meals, as touch points + because I know when my kids get hungry!) but instead in generalized time chunks I refer to as "THEN," or "PRE-BATH" etc. The schedule includes important things like eating, learning, reading, playing, and being creative... and also (JUST AS!) important things like snuggling and screen time.
I personally believe that overly scheduled, hour-by-hour approaches to this period will lead to burnout for a lot of moms. If you and your kids do better on a tight schedule, ramp it up, y'all! But I am hoping to build in success by being loose.
Create Weekly Themes
This idea might not apply so much to older kids with schoolwork assignments coming in virtually, but I believe we can all try to incorporate it to some degree. In order to effectively teach and enjoy my kids during this accidental period of unschooling, I am planning to keep us on track with weekly themes.
First, I asked my kids what they want to learn about while Mommy is their teacher for a while. They said "ANIMALS!" in unison, right away. So, this week's theme will be Animals. The following, Countries. The next, Colors. Ask your kids what they think! Get creative and be ready to change your mind if the theme doesn't fit and you want a new one.
I'll post more on our progress week-to-week, but as a loose layout for Animal Week, we are planning to learn about Domestic Animals on Day One. Day Two is St. Patrick's Day, so we'll be learning about green animals. Day Three, Farm Animals... and so on. Some days we might not get any learning done, and that's okay, too!
Some days (I hope!) we'll be interested in the worksheets Mommy prints out for us. Other days all we'll do is color pictures of animals. And maybe watch some movies about them in the wild, or just dress up like our favorites and take a few cute photos! Why not, right?
Use Educational Resources
Utilize free homeschooling tools on the Internet. Start with:
Legacy Learning Academy: Sign up for their free newsletter for a little love in your inbox. This amazing, mom-run educational company will be sending FREE educational PDF's to their mailing list every single school day until this crisis is over. Wow... just wow.
Scholastic: The children's learning giant is now offering "Learn at Home" free resources for homeschooling young children pre-k and up. I am looking forward to seeing their different offerings and I know my kids are going to love it - especially since it involves a screen!
I will continue to update this post as I learn of more resources available, and will be adding to Pinterest accordingly. Please reach out to your child's learning institution and your local Facebook community pages for more ideas. If you have a company or are offering any of these tools yourself, please comment or email me to be added to this list!
Keep in Touch Do not forget that social distancing is meant to create physical distance, not emotional space. Please call and FaceTime your friends and family. Even the ones you haven't talked to in a while. Your children need this precious connection with the outside world desperately! When you take walks, stroll by your friends' houses and wave at them. Their children will delight; I promise.
We will be setting up as many FaceTime play dates as we can over the weeks to come. As a mom I am dedicated (like you are!) to keeping my children's lives as normal as we possibly can throughout this crisis. Seeing friends regularly -- even remotely -- will help.
Learn by Doing & Creating
You're going to be stuck inside a lot and this is a great time to tackle home projects. Young children love to help, so let them! We'll be teaching our daughters how to sand and prime wood furniture, how to sort unneeded items during a closet clean-out, and how to cook and bake all sorts of things! Fixing and making things are life skills far more important than a lot of what is in text books. Remember that if nothing else from this little guide.
This is also a great time to try something new with your kids at home! Incorporating the arts at home doesn’t have to be expensive, either. Many companies have moved to offer unique ways to get involved with learning at home and offering virtual classes.
For families with young children interested in ballet, this ballet subscription box is a genius idea. Each box comes with a book, a craft, a gift, and a ballet class and book reading.
Sadly our weather has been rainy in Georgia, but we'll be outside as much as possible. Some days that'll mean scavenger hunts or a hike at a local park (not near other people -- and no playgrounds or picnic tables!). But a lot of days it'll mean digging in the dirt while Mommy watches on with her coffee or wine in hand... and that's okay!
On days you cannot get outside, consider staying active indoors with hide-and-seek, Cosmic Kids or other YouTube yoga, dance parties, and taking the kid's lead on how they want to enjoy active play.
Please, friends, remember that this is stressing but temporary. What we are doing, keeping our children at home and making safe social distance from others is to the benefit of not just ourselves and our families but our communities and the country at large. When you look at it that way, a few weeks (or even a couple months!) of homeschooling is nothing.
We've got this!