As schools across the country and world remain closed in response to COVID-19, we’re adjusting to our new normal of working from home and social distancing. A little more than a week into homeschooling, we’ve realized how much we appreciate our teachers and how much the rest of us could use some support! In what seems like a lifetime ago, I was a middle school teacher. Now I’ve put that teacher hat back on to tackle homeschooling. Our community is coming together to compile resources and we’d like to encourage you to share solutions that work for you! Let’s continue building this list to share knowledge and support our community however we can.
We all know how important schedules are to our daily lives, especially for our kids who thrive on structure. Create a schedule that works best for your family and maintain your normal routine to the extent possible:
- Maintain your normal wake up and bedtimes to keep your kids in a routine and on a schedule that provides for the appropriate amount of sleep.
- Schedule meal and snack times. Avoid the urge to snack throughout the day and schedule times that match your kids’ normal mealtime schedules at school. You can also plan ahead and let your kids select the snack they’d like for the next day from a few options you offer. You will still be happy with the end result since you provided the options, and it gives your kids both a sense of control over something in an otherwise unusual time and something to look forward to.
- Schedule dedicated times for education, creativity and physical activity. Get creative with some educational play ideas below!
- Create a space for educational activities that is conducive to learning and free from distractions.
- Keep routines that are appropriate for the age of your kids, such as naptime or quiet time. Read a book or grab a puzzle and dedicate some time to quiet activities that allow your kids to exercise their minds.
- Schedule chore time or activities like cleaning up after meals so your kids continue to have responsibilities and structure.
- Schedule family activities. It’s an opportunity to connect or reconnect, which is so important during this time. Consider making dinner together, playing a game or making it a movie night.
- Add positive reinforcement. If everyone keeps to the schedule and completes their work each day, provide a reward. You might let your kids choose a dessert after dinner or treat them to pizza takeout for lunch on Friday. Choose something that your kids will find motivating and tailor to each child.
We are so grateful to the school districts and teachers who are doing their best to help with online curriculum and remote learning opportunities. We also have some favorite online resources to make learning from home fun for your kids:
- Help your kids explore classic stories and find some new favorites. Audible is offering free streaming stories in six languages.
- Scholastic online has new activities each day to keep kids reading and learning from home. Choose age-appropriate activities from Pre-K through grade 9.
- With options for Pre-K through grade 6+, abcya.com offers word games, math games and more that will make kids think they’re playing, though parents know they are actually learning.
- While using computers and tablets for remote learning, this is a great time for kids to improve their typing skills. Sites such as Typing.com and TypingClub.com offer a variety of tutorials and typing games.
- Nervous about teaching math to your child? hoodamath.com is here to help, and it can make math fun! Choose math games by grade from kindergarten to high school or by subject such as addition, fractions and algebra.
- Discovery Education offers a puzzlemaker to create your own word searches, mazes, math squares and other puzzles. You can get creative, from entering your own list of spelling words or finding new words in the dictionary, to practicing math calculations in challenging puzzles.
- For unique brain games and teasers, check out BrainGymmer. The level of difficulty automatically adjusts to performance, so your child will continue to be challenged.
- Learn a new language for free with Duolingo. Your child can learn at their own pace with personalized learning.
- While learning new languages, make it really fun with family time! Our family likes to play UNO in different languages, from Spanish to German to French. You can learn colors and numbers in a different language and use a Google translator to learn other phrases such as “take two cards.” Then play the game and practice the new words and phrases you have learned.
Don’t forget to schedule some physical activities to keep your kids moving and use up some energy! Get outside when you can and have a jump rope competition, shoot hoops with an old-fashioned game of HORSE or create a simple obstacle course. When the weather keeps you inside, find an online yoga course or have the kids create their own scavenger hunt. Let your kids be creative in coming up with new games for the whole family to play.
If you are homeschooling a child with a diagnosis on the autism spectrum, you may be searching for additional resources to help your child adapt to new routines and the anxiety that can accompany those changes. An interdisciplinary team at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill created an online toolkit with additional strategies and support resources.
What solutions have you found for new routines and homeschooling? Please share so we can continue building this list of resources for our community. It’s a new and challenging time, but together we’ve got this.