Hey, new homeschooler.
Are you wondering what you should do with your kids all day?
Hi, I’m Laura. I’ve been homeschooling my children for twelve years. I have six kids ranging in age from 1 to 14 years-old and I can tell you one thing… homeschooling is hard but rewarding work! I can’t imagine having to homeschool in a snap (WHILE working from home or dealing with sudden unemployment) under these challenging circumstances.
My heart goes out to you.
Please know that…
- You’ll figure things out, day by day, together.
- You’ll connect, grow, and love together.
- You’ll get through this together.
A Simple Homeschool Schedule That Will Keep Your Kids Occupied All Day
Considering our current circumstances, I recommend a predictable schedule that has some of these key elements:
Do you have the opportunity to eat together more often than you normally would? Research shows that this simple habit is one of the best things you can do for your child. There’s value in sitting at the table together. 🙂 Sure, some meals will be chaotic. Other meals will be calm and civilized. Chat. Laugh. Eat. (One of my favorite things about homeschooling is that I get to sit at my kids’ “lunch table” and the funny guy in the “cafeteria” is my own son.)
2. SCHOOL WORK:
If your school is providing work, help your child to get it done in the morning when they’re fresh. If you’re “on your own” academically, consider one of the resources from We Are Teachers: 130+ Free Online Resources or this amazing resource from Smithsonian Magazine.
Go outside whenever possible. Encourage your kids to take walks, ride bikes, explore nature, play make-believe, do ninja challenges. Fresh air is an essential part of homeschooling. 😉
Create one station per child (or multiple stations for one or two children). Choose something from your art/ game/ toy stash for each station. For example, put the play-doh at the kitchen table, beads on a mat in the living room, and calico critters or match box cars in a bedroom. Each child gets to enjoy each station for 30 minutes until it’s time to switch. Play music in the background. (Don’t forget to give a “5-minute warning”!) Expert tip: Afterward, everyone cleans up together and then gets a snack!
Ideas for stations geared toward little kids:
- Bathtub (My toddler plays in the tub every morning while I do a reading lesson with an older child right there on the bathroom floor. No one said homeschooling is glamorous, but it is special and memorable!)
- Indoor mini trampoline
- Board games (My kids love to play with the pieces to Blockus, Ticket to Ride, Candy Land, or Battleship)
- Interesting baking supplies (i.e., silicon cupcake holders, rolling pin, whisk, metal or plastic bowls, measuring spoons, etc.)
- Inexpensive jewelry in a special box
- A bunch of balloons
- Decorate and play with a large cardboard box (Add stickers, markers, etc.)
Ideas for stations geared toward big kids:
- Ingredients and recipe for “No bake cookies” or Power Balls (Each child can mix and make their own batch. Freeze extras!)
- Card-making station
- Tools and supplies to build something
- Ingredients and instructions for slime
Reading aloud is the heart and soul of our homeschool and I highly recommend it to you! For inspiration and a free book list, check out www.readaloudrevival.com.
6. QUIET TIME:
This is a one-hour quiet time in the afternoon in which every child is in a separate room. Every homeschooler I know keeps an afternoon quiet time. Everyone has different expectations for what each child may do during this time. Some say, “reading only” and they provide a book basket full of interesting options. Some say, “Read, pray, sleep, or think”. Others say, “audio book + LEGOs” or something like that.
What works for us: My big kids read indoors or outdoors while my 5-year-old and 3-year-old play with special toys in their rooms. My 3-year-old has a hard time staying in his room the whole time and he still needs some assistance in the bathroom, so I sit in the hallway outside of his room. I grab a cup of tea, my laptop, and more books than I’ll ever read and set up my humble office right there on the floor. My legs get cramped and it’s not ideal, but I choose to appreciate it. I use this time to read the Bible and pray, write, connect with friends, and read.
7. AUDIO AND ART:
Provide white paper and coloring books, colored pencils, gel pens, markers. Choose an audio book/ podcast/ program that appeals to your family. My kids love Wow in the World, Adventures in Odyssey, and soundtracks to musicals like “A Year With Frog and Toad,” “Mary Poppins,” “The Sound of Music,” and “Newsies”. My older children (and I!) like to listen to a daily news podcast called “The World and Everything in It“.
8. PERSONAL GROWTH:
Perhaps you could ask your child, “What’s one thing you want to get better at while you’re home?” Carve out time and space for your child to enjoy that thing each day.
Or, is there something that you want to share with your child or teach them? The secret to homeschooling is seeing your unique value to your child. What are you good at? What do you love? This is a unique opportunity to pass that along and share yourself in a way that may never come around again. Could you make lunch together once a week? Show them your baby book? Share your favorite childhood games, music, food, and stories?
If you’re working from home, could you plan a “Take Your Child to Work Day,” and let them look over your shoulder and help you?
9. SCREEN TIME:
Choose options for your child that you feel good about. Then, schedule screen time for when YOU’LL need it most, like when you have to be on a call, when you’re making dinner, or when you need a minute to shake off the stress.
Is screen time a slippery slope? Yes, it is. But you can find your footing!
What works for us: our little ones watch one show in the afternoon while I do school work with the older kids. Sometimes we watch a movie in the evening as a family. My two video-game-enthusiasts are allowed to play for 30 – 60 minutes on the weekend. Then, there are the spontaneous “Art for Kids Hub” tutorials, Marco Polo messages with friends, and other things that pop up, too. We established a rhythm after some trial and error based on the overall effect of screen time on our family. When we need to, we cut back. When we need to, we allow more. You’ll discover what works for you in these circumstances.
You’ve got this.
Homeschooling can be hard and often thankless work. There are days when I feel overwhelmed, inadequate, and exhausted. And yet there are days when I feel deeply satisfied with my work because I see my child take a big stride forward, or we have a great conversation, or make a memory together. The good moments are so very good… keep your eye out for them.
If you’re new to homeschooling and would like more practical help like this, click here:
What are your questions about homeschooling?
I’d love to help!
Leave your question in the comment section or email me at [email protected].
Over the next few weeks, I’ll be posting helpful tips for new homeschoolers and I don’t want you to miss them! I’m not on social media, so email is the best way for me to let you know what’s happening at LauraBooz.com. I cherish your trust and I’ll work hard to respect your time and attention. 🙂