Only second to the medical community that is on the front lines during this COVID-19 pandemic, admins, teachers, parents, and students are today’s heroes. In less than a week’s notice, teachers, parents, and students have moved to homeschooling and online learning. While many companies are generously offering online tools, this might be putting the cart before the horse. If students are only working on schoolwork and digital software, they will quickly tire of it and revolt.
An important point to consider as we adapt to what could be our collective new normal is that people, especially children, seek structure.
As much as we like to think lack of structure is relaxing, long term lack of structure is actually more stressful.
According to AhaParenting.com ,
Structure and routines teach kids how to constructively manage themselves and their environments.
According to UpWorthy.com,
Children need routine and predictability in order to feel safe. This is especially important during a time of crisis.
Try to create a schedule, so everyone in the house has some expectation of normalcy. During this time, your children of all ages will want to know something is predictable. A schedule can create the element of predictability no matter how small.
Below are some sample schedules for you to read through. You can try them as-is or create your own based on the elements here. Please, make sure you have movement, fun, socializing, choice, reflection, and learning.
Sample Elementary Student Homeschooling Schedule:
- 8-8:30 am wake, dress, brush teeth
- 8:30 – 9 Breakfast
- 9 – 9:30 Plan for the day. Discuss the schedule for the day, so kids know what to expect. Let them know you are going to try it out and ask for their feedback at the end of each block or at the end of the day, so they should be thinking about what they liked and what they would like to change.
- 9:30 – 10:30 Exercise: play outside, ride bikes with parents, walk dog, play wii dance or wii sports, download an exercise app if it is raining or too cold to go outside
- 10:30 – 11:30 Thinking Time: Do some school work if there is any. This can be paper and pencil work or online work. If there is not any structured work, download brain or memory games apps such as concentration, puzzles, memorize the 50 states and their capitals, word finds, crossword puzzles, etc.
- 11:30 – 12:30 Lunch: Help make and eat lunch. No electronics during this time. No iPads or phones or TV.
- 12:30 – 1:30 Playtime of choice: play inside or outside. Board games, card games, coloring, manipulatives, crafts, swing set, running around, etc. Remember, only to play with family in the house and not anyone outside the house. If parents are the only other people in the house, be your child’s playmate. You won’t regret it.
- 1:30 – 2 Personal connection: Feeling a sense of belonging and friendship is very important. Kids want to know their friends and family are safe. They worry. If you have Internet or phone access, call or have an online video call with friends and or family. If you do not have electronic access, write cards or letters to friends, and have them do the same for you. Then mail them and wait for yours to arrive. Pen pals are till just as exciting as they were 20 years ago.
- 2 – 3 School Time: electronics are okay now. This can be elearning software, iPad apps, or educational TV or YouTube videos. Just make sure you are monitoring the topics. If you are not sure where to go, check out Common Sense Media for approved apps and sites for learning.
- 3-4:30 Personal Choice: It is important for children to have some autonomy in their day. Let them choose how they want to spend the last block of their day.
- 4:30 – 5 Reflection and Feedback – check in with your child and discuss how the day went. What went well? What did you like? Where did you feel successful? Where did you feel pride in accomplishment? Discuss whether the schedule worked and how it might be improved.
Sample Middle and High School Homeschooling Schedule:
Because middle and high school students are older, they seek autonomy and deserve the opportunity to start trying out their organizational and decision-making skills. Being a real adult is not age-based; being an adult is based on decision-making skills. Our children and students deserve to make choices in a safe zone. This is the perfect opportunity to let them make choices, live them out, and reflect on whether they would make the same choice again. I’ll be blogging more about that in the future.
- Prior to 9 am – Pre-Learning Time: let them know waking, showering, dressing, working out, and eating need to be fully completed beforehand just as if they were at school. Let them decide what they will do before 9 am.
- 9 – 9:15 am – Reflect: think about pre-school choices and how things went. Ask students to plan out tomorrow’s pre-school activities now.
- 9:15 – 9:30 Get organized: Spend the first 15 minutes discussing tasks to complete that day, order they want to complete them in, and expected completion time. Share the overall schedule for the day now, so they can fill in blocks with subjects or activities.
- 9:30 – 9:45 Set Goals with built-in, self-created rewards if they meet their goals. It is important they they set the celebration to make it intrinsic. If they are not ready for this, consider offering an extrinsic reward like 15 extra minutes of self-choice time during the day.
- 9:45-10 Set up your space: choose the best learning space for you. Bedrooms are not recommended unless your child has proven in the past that they can get work done and not goof off. I have three teens at home. One chose the dining room table. Another chose the kitchen island. The third chose the living room sofa.
- 10-11:30 Quiet time to work on assigned school work in the order they chose in the “Get Organized” slot earlier. This is a super-focus time when everyone needs to work quietly.
- 11:30 – 11:45 Reflect and Celebrate: Have kids report out on what their goal was and whether they met their goal. Celebrate with high fives, happy dance, or whatever else is fun and spontaneous. Ask kids how they feel when they meet their goal.
- 11:45 – 1 Lunch and Socializing: Lunch equals friends and socializing for most kids. Encourage yours to FaceTime or call his/her friends. iPhones can make group calls and group FaceTimes. Android phones can do Google hangouts with one or many people. Encourage your child to socialize during this time. It is incredibly important that they stay connected with their friends and social network.
- 1-1:30 Movement: A full stomach can make anyone sleepy. Encourage your child to get outside and move. Kick a soccer ball around, shoot some hoops, go for a bike ride or a jog. Anything to get the blood pumping to their brain. This increases their attention span and mental capacity.
- 1:30 – 3 Quiet time and work. This can be electronic software, Kahn Academy, school-assigned computer work, reading, etc.
- 3:00 – 4:00 Personal Choice: Allow students to relax how they choose. This could be video games, reading, biking, playing an instrument, listening to music, drawing, etc. This is more of a creation time than consumption. Encourage your child to make something as much as possible. Don’t force them to do anything, though. Let them choose.
- 4:00 – 4:30 Reflection: check in with your child and discuss how the day went. What went well? What did you like? Where did you feel successful? Where did you feel pride in accomplishment? Discuss whether the schedule worked and how it might be improved. Listen to their feedback, and try to incorporate it into future days’ schedules. Each time you make a change, be sure to ask how you will measure its success. Reflect on whether to keep the change.
These are merely samples of items to include in your homeschooling schedule during this unpredictable time. Make it work for you and your children. Remember, learning is supposed to be enjoyable, exciting, and social. Do you best to include all of those things. Some structure is needed to provide a sense of normalcy and allow students some predictability in their day. Consider using shorter learning times in the beginning and increasing them as you all settle in and build your endurance. Attack it the way a triathlon athlete would. Plan, practice, and increase your activity as you go.
Please, leave some comments to share what is working and not working for you. If this plan can be improved, leave some feedback.
“Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.” ~Maya Anjelou