Well, here’s a post I never thought I’d write!
I’ve written a few of my favorite mom hacks and parenting tips before. But I never thought I’d find myself as a homeschooling mom. And, well, I’m clearly not the only one.
So today on the blog I thought I’d share a few homeschooling tips on what’s currently working for us.
Major disclaimer: I have no experience in this. I’m just sharing what’s working for us after several, several weeks of trial and error.
The beginning was actually pretty rough. But now that we are a few weeks in, I feel like we are finding some rhythm.
If you’re in need of some homeschooling tips during the Coronavirus, keep on reading!
First, Divide and Conquer
My kids are 5 and 2. Homeschooling a Kindergartner can be a bit of a nightmare with a high-maintenance, totally demanding toddler in the house.
For us to get anything done, I have to occupy the toddler and have him do as much independent work as possible.
This really isn’t easy. Even if I leave her in an activity, she typically requires a lot of supervision.
Some of my favorite tasks to keep our toddler busy are coloring with the Crayola Color Wonder coloring books. At least it’s something I can walk away from and not have to worry that she’s coloring the walls, etc. (she’s done this a ton, unfortunately).
We also really like Crayola Silly Scents. They don’t break as easily as actual crayons so they are toddler and kid-friendly. They also smell great, too!
She also LOVES to cook with me. So I will get our learning tower and sometimes do an activity or meal prep while he works on an assignment.
Create a “Loose” Schedule
I tried somewhat of a schedule and flying by the seat of our pants. A “loose” schedule has been significantly more effective. Here’s a rough idea of what ours looks like.
- 7-8am breakfast, make beds, brush teeth
- 8-8:30am workout. We like Cosmic Yoga, GoNoodle or these exercise videos for kids.
*Daddy does the above so mommy can workout and get ready to start school.*
- 9am School starts. We do 3 activities before a break.
- 9-10 am Free playtime
- 10:30 Snack
- 10:45 Non-school educational activity. This might be an e-book or other learning activity. Sometimes iPads so I can quickly do some emails.
- 12-12:30pm Lunch
- 1pm Toddler Nap time + School resumes
- 1:30 pm School Zoom Class
- 2pm Free Play
This breaks down to about 1.5-2 hours of “school” a day. I heard from a lot of homeschooling moms that really, this is the max time kids this age really need school and I’ve noticed he gets fried after much more than this.
Keep a Schedule Checklist
What’s been most motivating thus far, and what really changed things for us, is writing a daily checklist of what we are going to do on this whiteboard.
We typically tackle three school activities in the morning followed by a break. Then in the afternoon when his sister goes down for a nap, we do two more activities. He can visually see his progress and, like all of us, enjoys “checking” his tasks off the list. This helps him feel more accomplished and he can see his progress.
I also noticed that it motivates him to finish his morning tasks quickly. I write them down on this small whiteboard I grabbed on Amazon that we also use for his virtual Zoom classes.
Be Creative with Learning Opportunities
Homeschool is different than real school, but it’s a good opportunity to be creative with educational moments.
Sometimes this looks like me cooking while asking for some math help (count out the tomatoes, etc.) Sometimes this looks like talking about what we see during our “nature” walks. Once you form the habit, you’ll find lots of ways to incorporate learning into everyday chores and activities.
I do this with chores, too:
- Help empty the dishwasher=practice sorting things
- Put away your laundry= Organization + life skills
- Cooking=Math help. Add, subtract, measure things
We did this outdoor scavenger hunt the other day and he LOVED it. On the way back from our walk, we counted the trees with flowers, talked about all the colors, etc.
If the weather permits, get outdoors! Kids really need it and it helps them focus on the school stuff when they get their energy out.
You can also teach outside; coloring with chalk and talking about shapes; writing messages and getting in some physical activity are all productive.
Kids, especially young kids, respond really well to incentives to look forward to. Yes, there is an intrinsic reward for finishing your work, but there’s nothing wrong with a little extra motivation either.
I grabbed this treasure chest from Amazon to reward him for a great week. At his school, he would always come home absolutely stoked if he got to visit the treasure chest, so I figured I’d try the same thing at home.
To be honest, it’s filled with those junky toys I hate that I end up throwing out at some point. But he gets SO excited about it! And if that means he’s focused and not fighting me, I call that a win.
Supplement if Needed
Every school and child is different. If you aren’t happy with all of the homework teachers are sending or feel the need to supplement, by all means do so!
There are SO many amazing online resources out there right now, many of which are free.
I supplement occasionally when looking for some creative activities, seasonal ones or just because I want him off the computer.
Between the iPad, online learning, TV, etc. I try to find ways for him to do worksheets and other learning activities that don’t include being glued to a device. Some of my favorite resources have been:
You can also find paid resources on places like Amazon where they have digital downloads.
Make Digital Time Count
If they’re going to be on an iPad, at least make it count! I try to encourage him to do educational activities rather than mindless games. Some of my favorites and his include:
- ABCMouse.com he asks to play this daily!
- Homer- Awesome reading app
- Endless ABCs- all of the apps by this company are amazing.
Give Them Something to Look Forward to
Homeschooling during Coronavirus isn’t easy, don’t stress out and stress your kids out any more than we need to be. Also, homeschool is YOURS to figure out, so you can find ways to make it fun and give them something to look forward to!
When we first started, I decided our “rule” was no school on Fridays. As long as he gets his work done before then, our “school” can be 4 days a week. The only exception is he still has to attend his 30-minute class online.
You can do other fun things on Fridays too like making it pajama day or pizza day. We try to do both of these in the house and it’s something they really look forward to!
O.K., this last one is something I’m still working on, but it really helps make a difference! Here are some of my favorite things to help get a little more organized while you’re homeschooling during Coronavirus.
- Stackable, clear craft storage bins
- Dry Erase board
- Dry erase markers
- Treasure Chest
- Silly Scents crayons
I hope this post is somewhat helpful! Do you have any great homeschooling tips? Let me know in the comments below, I’d love to hear them!