It was unique, and maybe even a bit of fun at first … this whole school at home thing. But once the newness has worn off, and you’ve run out of ideas for keeping the kids occupied, you’re left wondering what to do next.
Let me suggest that this second phase of school at home is all about grace and teamwork. Grace for both you and your kids because most folks haven’t done this before and on top of the frustration, everyone is just a little bit scared.
When tempers get short, or things get out of hand, allow yourself and your kids to take a break and do something that changes your focus and burns energy. Grace means to grant favor or goodwill, even when it’s not deserved. We all need to give and receive grace during times of stress. I think a pandemic applies as a time of stress! Here are five big ideas to help you school at home.
1. Foster a Spirit of Teamwork
Your children are looking to you for direction and sameness. They need things to have some sense of normalcy. They need help with managing their expectations. And most of all, they need to feel like they’re an important part of something.
We’re all in this together.
Now is the time to start having conversations that center around teamwork. Share with them that their help with daily things like meal planning and preparation, laundry sorting and folding, and house clean-up and tidying really makes a difference in getting through the day. Give them basic instructions and then be sure to cheer them on when they’re done even if the end result isn’t quite up to your standards.
2. Set and Keep a Schedule
We all know that schedules were made to be broken because life just happens (see reference to grace above). But most of us thrive on some sort of schedule. It gives us purpose and helps us to set reasonable expectations.
Your days need a framework.
Here are some scheduling suggestions:
- Scheduling Your Homeschool Day: 6 Principles That Work
- 5 Reasons to Add Daily Quiet Time to Your Homeschool Schedule
- How to Enjoy a Flexible Homeschool Schedule
- How to Use a Loop Schedule for Homeschool
- Scheduling the Day for the Reluctant Homeschool Learner
- Six Ways to Schedule Your Homeschool Year to Fit Your Family
- How to Find the Time to Homeschool (Even if You Work)
- A 3-Part Homeschool Routine: Morning Time, Table Time, & Tea Time
- 4 Ways to Use the Power of Routine in Your Homeschool Day
What is most important is to set a schedule that makes sense for your family and keep it simple, always remembering grace.
Academics and Meals
Spend the first hour of your day working on something academic. Focus on math or phonics or writing or whatever your child’s school may have sent home. If your school hasn’t provided a work-at-home packet, check out Sonlight’s 6 and 8 week curriculum packages. They are a great resource for finishing out the school year at home.
Spend another chunk of time doing some meal planning and meal prep. When my kids were growing up, this weekly meal rotation worked well for me:
- Monday was chicken night.
- Tuesday was pasta.
- Wednesday meant casserole or soup.
- Thursday was a beef dish.
- Friday meant homemade pizza.
We kept an index card box stocked with recipes sorted by these categories. Two weeks at a time, we would pull out a recipe from the right category for each night and make our shopping list. Every morning we knew exactly what we were going to make for dinner!
Get your kids involved in the planning and the meal preparation. You are teaching life skills, and your kids are gaining valuable skills they will appreciate later in life. Planning and cooking also helps to reinforce math (measuring) and science (combining ingredients)!
3. Integrate Hands-on Activities
While you may not be a crafty person by nature, adding guided projects provides focus and a sense of accomplishment. There are a lot of great options available for school at home:
4. Read, Read, Read
Start your day of school at home reading together. Read aloud to your kids while they’re eating lunch. Read together at bedtime. Allow lots of time for independent reading throughout the day.
Help your kids create a reading nook … a spot where they can escape and get lost in a book. Need help with sourcing books? Here are some themed reading lists to get you started.
- 10 Can’t-Miss Read-Alouds for the Early Years
- 11 Best Fiction Books for Animal Lovers
- 12 Lavishly Illustrated Picture Books for the Family Coffee Table
- 11 Poetry Anthologies for Kids That Every Home Library Needs
- 12 Books That Teach Empathy for Ages 3-5
- 12 Books That Teach Empathy for Ages 6-8
- 10 Books About Art and Artists for Your Morning Basket
- 12 Unexpected Books for Presidents’ Day
- 163 Sonlight Superlatives: The Best Books from Preschool to Level J
- 12 Must-Read Books for Black History Month
- 12 Missionary Biographies to Grow Your Children’s Faith
5. Help Others
Time at home is a wonderful opportunity for developing the heart of a servant in your children.
- Is there a neighbor who needs yard work done?
- Could you mail cards to residents of a nursing home who are unable to have visitors?
- Could you shop for an at risk friend who can’t or shouldn’t?
There are so many opportunities out there! As our pastor likes to say, “See a need; meet a need.” Not only will you greatly bless others in the process, but community service teaches practical life skills while it fills the hours with meaningful work.
Most of all, keep in mind that learning can be exciting! I mean not only the learning that involves workbooks, pencils, and iPads, but also the kind that takes place all day long, every day. Look for opportunities to learn in all that you do, for both you and your children because the excitement is doubled when you learn together. For a chance to win educational bundles from Sonlight click here. A new set is awarded weekly through September 2020.