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Homeschooling: How to Create a Workable Schedule
Covid-19 spread across the globe at an alarming rate. It caught everyone off guard, from world leaders, to businesses, to us as parents. Our daily lives suddenly changed. And maybe the biggest change was our schools closing.
In the blink of an eye, we found ourselves in the position of homeschooling.
The first week after my daughter’s school closed, we sat down together and wrote a homeschooling schedule. It included when we’d get up, eat, do specific school subjects, exercise, my work, fun time, creative time, breaks…it was all there! My daughter wrote it in her best handwriting on a whiteboard and stood it proudly in the dining room!
We attacked it with gusto on the first week; all cylinders firing and feeling pretty proud of ourselves. But the night before we entered the second week, my daughter uttered that the schedule was making her feel stressed. Not so much the content, but the schedule itself felt stressful. She wasn’t used to a schedule like that at home.
I didn’t need to start an in-depth conversation with her about it. The very fact that it was causing her stress was enough for me to throw it out of the window! Whatever schedule/routine we decided on, it had to be one that made her happy, not anxious. And so, we went back to the drawing board…
Like us, you may find that you need to change your homeschooling schedule/routine you initially came up with, either completely or simply modify it. Below are ten tips to help you establish a homeschooling schedule/routine that’s going to work FOR you and not against you.
Tips for a workable homeschooling schedule
You may come up with a brilliant schedule, but you also need to be flexible. This means knowing that some days you won’t or can’t keep to it and that’s OK. If you don’t have this flexibility, you’ll cause yourselves stress when things don’t go to plan. If you can’t keep to it one day, two days…a week even, that nothing awful is going to happen!
Maintain your morning routine
It can be tempting to stay in pyjamas till midday when you’re not going anywhere! But it’s important for kids especially, that we do what we’d normally do in the morning, like getting dressed, brushing teeth etc. This will give your child a sense of normalcy which will bring a level of security as well as put them in the right mood for whatever their first activity is.
Again, it can be tempting to let this one go, but it’s one of the most crucial to maintain; for both mental and physical health. Because of this, it’s one that I’m least flexible with! One person who’s making this quite easy right now, is Joe Wicks’ PE lessons. Whether your kids watch them live or do them later, they can start their day with his class, turbo charging their energy for the day (as well as yours if you take part!) and adding structure to their day.
Do activities together
Even if you’re having to do your own work, schedule in some time where you do fun activities with your child. It will give them something to look forward to and be a great motivator. It will also carve out some special bonding time and provide the opportunity to make some special memories.
Create a working space
Create a special space for your child to do their work. This can be anywhere your child is happy with – they don’t suddenly need their own study! When my daughter and I are doing our own work, she sits next to me at my desk. This works really well; it makes her feel special and that her work is also important!
Unless you’re having to stay indoors, make sure you schedule in outside time every day. If you have a garden, set up things for your kids to do there, like painting, drawing or making mud pies! Go for walks. You can make this fun by playing games such as Super Senses or Detective Walk. For more on these, check out this post: https://mindsofwonder.com/2018/12/07/mindfulness-activities-for-kids/
Don’t ask your friend about their schedule!
Just as our kids learn differently, our friends will approach this new situation differently. And there’s not a right way of doing it. The only right thing is to do what’s right for your family.
Asking your friends what they’re doing may only cause you stress or worry that you should be doing it the same as them. Responses to homeschooling will fit along a broad spectrum, from being highly regimented to deciding not to formally homeschool at all but use the time for their kids to play, explore and do all the activities they don’t normally have time to do. Do what’s best for you and feel confident and secure in that decision. Being right for your family is the only thing you have to be concerned about.
Break out at the weekends!
Make the weekends different from the weekdays. It will provide your kids with a sense of normalcy, but also allow them to thoroughly enjoy their time from the routine/schedule.
Have realistic expectations
Bear in mind the age of your child and what they can be reasonably expected to do, including levels of concentration. We can’t expect them to suddenly be able to do tasks or concentrate for longer periods than they are expected to at school. And remember that they’ll still have ‘off’ days and your flexible approach can allow for this.
Don’t replicate the school day
If you’ve decided to cover as much work as they do at school, remember that the number of hours your kids are actually learning at school is far fewer than the physical hours they’re at school. At home, they’re not engaging in assemblies, lining up, waiting for everyone to take their coats off/on or waiting while another student is being reprimanded. So, in reality you’re only looking at approximately 3 hours of concentrated learning. This will also vary according to how old your child is. Also remember, that between now and your child going back to school, there would have been a significant number of school holidays.
It’s a difficult and challenging time but remember that you CAN create a homeschooling routine that works for you and your child. And it will be one that entails little or no stress!
Approach it by working out what’s best for your family. What do you need to do? What do you want to achieve? How much homeschooling do you actually need to do?
A final note…
After throwing our initial schedule out of the window, we’ve enjoyed a stress-free routine. It includes all of the tips above. My daughter is happy, and her stress simply melted away.
I’d love to hear about your routines and any obstacles you’ve come across as well as any questions you may have. Jot them in the comments below and I’ll look forward to getting back to you J
Related to: Mindfulness games