Hi everyone! Welcome back to my blog 🙂 If this is your first time visiting my page, you may want to check out my first post “Educational Inspirations” to learn about my perspective on education. Today, I decided to address the world of change we all experienced within the last month. My hope is that this will help relieve some of your stress!
I understand how you’re feeling.
A few weeks ago everything was status quo, and suddenly a seemingly unending storm commenced. As a parent of a young child, or several, you are most likely trying to figure out how to keep your ship afloat. I imagine a wide variety of thoughts run through your mind on a daily basis. Perhaps you can relate to one of the following:
- I did not sign up for homeschooling.
- I am not qualified for this.
- How can I possibly teach three children in different grades simultaneously?
- My kids just will not focus.
- My children are now living on electronic devices.
- How do I manage all of their free time?
- When will I ever find time for my own work?
One simple solution can alleviate some of this recent anxiety: a schedule. While this suggestion will not solve all of the world’s problems, I believe it will help restore your sanity and support your children in the transition to this new lifestyle.
The Beauty of a Routine
In the beginning of the year, your child’s teacher established a daily schedule and routine. This daily schedule with embedded routines provides children with a sense of security. They know what to expect every day they arrive at school, and they also know what the teacher expects of them. On days the class attends an assembly, hosts a speaker, or participates in a special activity, the students trust that their teacher will share these changes with them and address how they impact their daily schedule. Children grow accustomed to this schedule and find comfort in the consistency. It also promotes on-task behavior because the pattern and order of activities is clearly defined.
Just as your schedule has been disrupted, so has theirs. Reestablishing a schedule that accommodates everyone’s diverse agendas will equally benefit you and your child.
Building the Structure
Step #1: Reflect
First, I recommend considering all of the different pieces that must come together in your daily schedule. These will vary from family to family, but you may want to consider the more rigid, scheduled factors first. For example, it is important to ensure that the correct time is set aside for your calls and your child’s class meetings. Next, you can consider other tasks that you and your child must complete, such as cleaning, work sent home from school, and your work that can be finished more flexibly throughout the day.
The more consistent the schedule the better, but life happens. If your work meeting times vary from day to day, you can design a special schedule for each day of the week. This way, Mondays will always follow the same format, as will Tuesdays, and so on. Your child will still catch on to this pattern and find the consistency reassuring. Another option is to schedule blocks of time. For example, 10:00-11:00 could be “math time.” While this window is always your child’s time to engage in math activities, these activities can look different from day to day. When you are available, you may sort and count objects, look at patterns, or draw shapes together. If you have a call, however, your child may play math games on a tablet or computer instead. Regardless, your child knows that 10:00-11:00 is “math time,” and the schedule remains consistent.
It is equally important to set aside time for yourself. During this stressful time, find what brings you happiness, comfort, and peace, and make time for it.
The key to this step of reflection is envisioning how your needs and your child’s needs can be met simultaneously. Dedicate the time you are available to engaging in learning and play with your child, and reserve the independent activities for when you must attend to your own work.
Step #2: Consult Your Children
Your children likely have their own agenda of activities they want to do and need to do. They can also tell you what they usually do at school, and probably share the order of these activities. Engaging them in designing the daily or weekly schedule gives them a sense of agency, which encourages them to buy-in. You respected their interests, and they share ownership in the schedule, so they will be more agreeable in following it with you.
Step #3: Filling in the Gaps
Now you have factored in the “wants” and “needs” of both you and your child. Are you wondering how to fill the rest of the time? Your child’s teacher may have suggested some at-home activities, but I imagine the amount of free time far exceeds the duration of these recommendations. A quick visit to some of the following sites will provide you with ample ideas that will entertain the family for weeks to come!
Wide Open School offers a wide variety of activities for children of all ages. On this website, you can find unplugged activities, videos, online games, and stories for each of the four core subject areas. Further, Wide Open School offers resources for children who are English language learners or have special needs. Finally, your children can take virtual field trips, practice life skills, and engage in activities that support their mental health using this site!
PBS’s Everyday Learning offers lessons pertaining to math, science, social studies, health and wellness, and the arts. Each lesson includes a video and supplemental activity to complete with your child!
Scholastic also provides parents with several activities to engage in with their children ranging from daily literacy-based lessons, to ideas for purposeful play, and daily reading quests.
Have a meeting during your child’s “reading time”? Storyline Online contains numerous videos of celebrities reading children’s favorite stories. Your child can look for their favorite book or star. Either way, I guarantee your child will be content with this story time!
Step #4: Create!
Finally, it is time to bring the schedule to life! If you have a white board handy, you can easily make writing the daily schedule a family activity to start your day. Instead, you may prefer to make your calendar digitally. Canva is one website that offers pre-made schedule templates. Once you navigate to the website click “create a design,” scroll down to “class schedule,” and you are on your way!
Sample schedule from Canva
Whichever format you choose, make sure to display it for everyone to see and reference, as this will enhance accountability. Adding visuals will help your little ones read the schedule too!
As we continue to push through these uncertain times in the coming weeks, remember to breathe and think about everything you have to be thankful for. It may not seem like the end is in sight, but we will rise above these trying times.
“You have power over your mind – not outside events. Realize this and you will find strength.” – Marcus Aurelius