Realistic Guide on How to Homeschool Kids While Working Remotely
You have no education degree, you barely remember what you learned in elementary school, you are working full-time at-home, still, and you are being asked to teach your kids so that they don’t fall behind during this unscheduled time at home? Yikes!
Math doesn’t look the same, anymore. The new weekly curriculum requires you to be an expert of some foreign sounding curriculum, that includes subjects like coding or robotics, now. You have no time to plan a lesson plan, not that you would know how to do that. Don’t forget, you don’t have time. How do teachers do this with 35 students in their classroom?
Here is the realistic guide on how to homeschool young kids while working at-home.
If your kids have attended TK or up, they are used to a rigorous schedule. Since you probably don’t have 25 or more kids in your house, you can deviate from what the school system set-up. Still, it’s important to have a basic routine.
That being said, there is no set way this should look. You have the flexibility to change it up day by day, and keep things interesting for the kids, and yet still have it feel regular and normal enough for kids to feel comfortable, and you to be able to do your job and take care of your kids needs, without thinking too much about it.
Below are some sample schedules to give you a basic idea of how it may look for each grade level.
The advantage of not having to commute means kids can get more rest in the morning, and the hours can be shifted depending on when they normally get up, and when you need to be completely focused on work. Rested kids mean temper-tantrums, rage-fits, and the need to have an afternoon wine down can be kept to a minimum, and you can be more productive at work.
One item to consider is the age of your kids. Luckily, teenagers and preteens are able to operate fairly independently. You want to set the expectations early. Set their alarm. Let them know what they need to get done, and by what time. If they need to assist their siblings establish what you expect them to do.
It is shown (see this article) that a lack of sleep can have a negative effect on mental and physical health, and cause anxiety and depression. Combined with the increase of time spent indoors, lack of social interaction, and lack of exercise and sun, and increased screen-time for required school work and leisure activities due to social quarantining, it’s important that for the first couple weeks you remind them of their bedtime, and their wake time.
Letting your teens and tweens know that there will be consequences for not coming to “school” on time, and finishing their work, such as reduced screen-time can be a good incentive to get your older kids on a good schedule.
Most kids between the ages of 5-12 need 10 to 11 hours of sleep, according to the National Sleep Foundation. With commutes, and early school times, this may not have been happening during the school year, but with schools shutting down for a few weeks, or with virtual schooling, kids have the opportunity to get more of their needed rest. This is important, because rested kids will be less irritable, less cranky, and calmer. This will help you focus on the work you need to do, even with them at home.
You may need to help the younger ones get ready in the morning, so be sure to leave a buffer of time before you need to join on that conference call, so your kids are settled in their first activity before you need to be. Otherwise, Have kids wake up later, so you can finish your morning call, and then help your kids get ready for the day.
Chores and Exercise
Aside from brushing their teeth, using the potty, and having a nutritious breakfast, some items to consider implementing in the morning are exercises and chores. Even small kids can help put dishes into the sink, or wipe down the table. Older kids can help sweep the floor, get siblings ready, and do some dishes.
Exercising can be free play in the yard, or making use of an indoor slide. If your kids do better with structured play, there are plenty of videos they can watch on GoNoodle, or you can search up “kids dance along” on YouTube, and select a safe playlist. (You can always watch it with them, the first time, to ensure that it is safe. Otherwise, you can build your own playlist.)
Be sure to put opportunities for chores and exercise throughout your child’s schedule.
Keep Academic Time Fun
When it comes to learning time, you want to find something fun enough to keep kids engaged for a long time and require minimal help from you. Hopefully once the routines are set, you can remind your kids what they are doing, and help set them up, and let them loose, while you focus on work. Here are some ideas on how to keep your kids occupied.
It can be scary trying to have your kids pick up coding when you may not know it yourself, or even if you do know it, but you aren’t sure how to keep it developmentally appropriate and fun for your kids. Luckily, there are a ton of sites and apps that make it fun and easy.
Code.org is a great resource for kids to go through self-guided, age appropriate lessons that will teach kids coding concepts to build their brain and ready them for text-based coding using real coding languages and syntax when they are older.
CodeCombat is good for kids who are older, and able to read and learn real coding languages with a game like platform.
Also, Minecraft Education Edition is great with built in tutorials for an engaging coding experience. You can also enable multiple students from the same school to join the same world, so that your kids can get a little bit of social interaction.
Some birthday present ideas may include a robotics kit. There are plenty of options out there, including Lego robotic kits that are expensive, but quite versatile, or smaller cheaper kits where the kids may not build the robots, but they can control them using a remote or coding from the computer or tablet.
Music has been shown to increase memory. Depending on your budget, you can hire a virtual teacher, or have your kids look at resources on YouTube to learn their favorite songs. Just remember, whatever method you choose, your kids will not get the full benefits unless they are practicing an hour a day.
Any subject area can be made cross-curricular with art, to increase the amount of time on task kids are spending, as well as their interest in the area. For example, rather than just having kids write a journal, they can draw a picture related to the journal entry. Instead of just learning about shapes, kids can use origami to make physical shapes. Rather than just learning about the states of matter, kids can change the states of liquids and solids by mixing them together or changing the temperature, and observing the changes. Rather than just learning about a time in history, they can recreate it in comic book form.
Whatever they are learning, by adding an art component will help!
There are a ton of videos online with ideas for science experiments that can engage students. From making slime to crystals, or just going outside, and observing some plants in nature, science is a great way to stimulate young minds.
For younger kids, make sure they are practicing writing letters. You can keep things engaging, and lower the pressure by giving kids fun ways to write their letters (in English or a foreign language) or high frequency words. Try mixing it up. They can use a branch in a tray of sand. They can use a paintbrush. They can use a white crayon on a sheet of paper, and later, add watercolors over it. Remember, especially for younger kids, repetition is the key to mastery!
If kids are learning a foreign language, try to find a language partner who speaks the language natively, and have them video chat using fun filters. This will enable kids to get their social time, in, as well!
Math Games/ Videos / Workbooks
Gone are the days when math homework felt like you were doing drills all day. Kids need practice to get better, but now, with apps like Prodigy, kids hardly feel like they are doing math drills, at all. Students feel like they are playing a fun game on their computer or tablet. While fundamentals and initial lessons should still be taught the old fashioned way, math games help students get hours of practice without them getting disheartened.
If students need explanations, websites such as Khan Academy have great video tutorials explaining various concepts. You just find the videos you want your kid to focus on, and have them watch it a few times if they need to.
Lastly, workbooks are a great way to keep your kids entertained while also having them practice some basic skills.
Personal Interest Choices
Remember to always give some structures choice options for kids during the day. This does not mean let kids do whatever they want, but choose two books they can read from, or choose for your kids to have coding or music on Friday.
Keep Meals Healthy and Easy
In addition to keeping kids academically on top, you need to keep them fed. It seems like kids who are at home are bottomless pits! This can be hard when you are working full time. Here are some ideas to keep them satiated and healthy.
Charcuterie plates are the rage, right now. Why not? Zero prep time, easy to include carbs, protein, veggies, fruit, and dairy, less mess, fun, and kids feed themselves!
corper mattis, pulvinar dapibus leo.
Keep it fun and colorful!
Use cookie cutters on your bread, cheese, or fruit to make fun shapes, or silicone cupcake liners to separate your items!
Slices of toast, crackers, pretzels, bagel chips, tortilla wedges, pita, tortilla chips, goldfish crackers, Veggie Straws, animal crackers, teddy graham, popcorn, cereal
Deli meat, pepperoni, chicken strips, almonds, cheese cubes, hummus, cheese dip, peanut butter, boiled eggs, seeds, egg bites
Cucumber, celery, carrot, bell pepper, mushrooms, cauliflower, sugar snap peas.
Berries, banana coins, dried fruit, quartered grapes, melon cubes, blueberries, jam or jelly, apple slices, tangerine slices, grape tomatoes, pineapple wedges
Yogurt dip, cheese cubes, ranch dip.
Stir in some chocolate powder in their hummus or yogurt dip to make a sweet treat.
There May Be Bad Days
All the advice aside, there may be good days and bad days. No matter how much you prepare, wifi might go down, the power might go out, or kids may just be having a bad day and things may not go according to plan.
Don’t fret it. There is a lot of pressure for parents now-a-days to be perfect, but when you are expected to wear many hats, there can be times when things don’t go that well, and that is fine.
Just reset, and know that even if some days end up being ice cream and pj in front of the TV days, overall you tried, and your kids had more academic opportunities than if you haven’t tried at all. Additional tips can be found at the following articles: