Oh wow. So the last few weeks have been a bit of a wild ride! I started drafting this post a few weeks ago and already everything has changed completely.
In truth, I deliberated writing this post all as I know parents have been bombarded from all corners. Suddenly everyone is an educational expert and I didn’t want to add to the noise.
However, if you find yourself struggling to achieve all of the activities set out on glossy, colour-coded timetables, then I’m your girl!
So what does working from home look like when you’ve got kids to look after too? Well, that’s something I do every day. Yep, I’m the crazy lady who opted to home-school in the early years whilst launching a business.
Here are my top tips to get you through this strange and uncertain time:
Don’t try to replicate the school day
Please do not try to set up schedules for homeschooling right now. You do not need to try and pack in a days worth of learning. Seriously, you will burn yourself out very quickly if you try to do a 9am – 3pm school day AND fit in the day job.
Homeschooling runs a little differently. Here’s the thing, in schools with packed classrooms, each lesson needs to run for an hour so the teacher can attend to needs.
When homeschooling, your attention is really focused on just one or two children. They don’t need as long to complete tasks when they have their own personal teacher.
Make it very clear that there will be times when you are playing or homeschooling and times when you need to get on with work.
The timings will depend on how your family rhythms work, but here’s what I do for reference:
Mornings: one planned activity after breakfast followed by time outside in the garden.
Naptime: whilst my youngest naps, my oldest two will play independently. This allows me time to do work.
Afternoons: one planned activity after lunch followed by more time outside.
Late afternoon: free play whilst I work
Early evening: after dinner, I work and my husband has the kids.
Set up a play space
Take time to reorganise the toys in the play space. This doesn’t mean panic ordering via IKEA online, but taking stock of the toys and games you have and putting a toy rotation system into place.
Homeschooling during this period should really mean plenty of time for free play. By creating a rotation system, you allow your children to explore and create – direct them to their play space whenever they complain of boredom.
Children need the freedom and time to play. Play is not a luxury. Play is a necessity.
Kay Redfield Jamison
Contemporary American professor of psychiatry
You can read more about toy rotation here.
Save the screens for when you really need them
Screens aren’t bad, but I’ve found that if you start watching TV first thing, there is nowhere to go! Save the apps and shows for when you really need to make that conference call or finish that important email.
Apps and online learning schemes can be a useful homeschooling tool. They certainly take the stress out on preparing lesson. We use Mathletics and Reading Eggs* on a regular basis, both have programmes suitable for children aged from 2 years upwards.
Recently we have also been exploring the Google 3D animals list – where you can bring animals into your house through the magic of technology.
If you’re usually big fans of museum visits, check out the virtual tours many are offering – The Smithsonian is our favourite.
*For full disclosure, I was gifted a years subscription to Reading Eggs in February. That being said, it is a truly excellent programme that we use on a regular basis.
Need any help?
I hope that you have found this guide reassuring, however if you need any help with activity ideas, you can either browse by topic or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org