At this point on Saturday March 14, 2020 many, if not most, of you find yourselves with your children home from school for at least 2 weeks. For some, this may be part of a scheduled spring break, but for others this is just time (necessary and somewhat unexpected time) away from their classrooms. As a former teacher and current homeschool mom I have just a few ideas for how to keep your children academically engaged until they get back to school.
Give the kids a day or two to enjoy the break and adjust to the changes happening in our country, while letting them know this is a short break and they will have some expectations as of Tuesday or day of your choice. This also gives you time to gather your thoughts, ideas, and activities.
-Follow a certain wake-up time range daily
-Kids may enjoy the perk of doing academics in their jammies so maybe let them for an hour or so, but have a “must be dressed by time” because too much time in jammies for too many days in a row may lead to the blahs for your child.
-Don’t follow a typical bell schedule, but do follow a routine. I’ve tried the school classroom schedule at home approach and it was not fun for any of us.
-Specify a certain time for recreational phone/pad/computer use.
Learning Activities at Home
First, if your child’s teacher has sent any assignments or has a website check that first and complete any assigned work. One student sitting at the kitchen table or family room completes work much faster than 30 students sitting in the same classroom, not to mention the time you have when they would have been at after school activities, so you will have plenty of time left in your day to provide some structure. You can use the ideas below to give your child assignments, have them read the list and pick assignments, or cut each one out, fold it, place it in a jar and each day have your child pick a new activity. You know your child best and you know how they will most positively respond to your approach to introducing the activities.
- Science: Let your child pick a topic they have studied this year in school and dive deeper into it by using books and internet research. Prepare a poster, paper, or powerpoint presentation about the topic.
- Science: Have them do an internet search for “kitchen science” and have some fun experimenting at home. (Be sure you have baking soda!)
- History: Let your child pick a favorite historical person and research more about their life. They can write a research paper, a play , or monologue. Help them find clothing around the house and dress up as the character to share their research with family and/or make a video to send to friends.
- History: Pick a time period and location to research about. Have them make a MineCraft community based on the research. Or, if you have plenty of Legos, have them build the community with those. If they stay interested, try both!
- Writing: Have children write a daily journal. They can write about their choice of topic, or you will find daily journal topics by searching their specific grade range and journal topic ideas, pick a PDF to print out and glue in a notebook.
- Writing: Grow a story. Find a story starter or make up your own and have each child and family member add a sentence to the story. (It may get silly and that’s fine and fun!) Or, if it’s an only child they can add a sentence to their story each day.
- Math: Do you have a driveway or sidewalk? Grab some sidewalk chalk when you make your next run to the grocery store for necessities. Use previous work sheets from school or their math textbook if it is home and write out some review problems to complete outside.
- Math: Hide a couple of measuring cups or measuring spoons and have your kids bake cookies. They’ll need to use fraction and equivalent skills to measure out correct amount of ingredients.
- Seasonal: On Tuesday March 17th learn more about St. Patrick and Ireland. Make a travel brochure. Bake some soda bread. Plan a green lunch. Listen to traditional Irish music by The Chieftains or The Clancy Brothers (maybe mix in The Cranberries or U2). YouTube Irish Dancing and maybe try a few steps at home.
- Life Skills: In addition to baking fun, have students plan and prepare a well-balanced lunch for the family. The next week they can be challenged by planning and preparing a well-balanced dinner. (Depending on age, maybe they just prepare a side dish toward the dinner. If you have more than one child have each child select and prepare a side dish.)
- Read a few books.
Take advantage of modern technology to keep some sort of community learning experience. Children can FaceTime with friends as they are doing some activities, though that may get distracting. As mentioned above, children can prepare final presentations and exchange videos with friends and family. (A caution to parents to monitor the video exchanges.)
Most of the ideas can be used for any grade level, but please comment with a question if you need suggestions for adapting anything to fit your needs.
Overall…. stay home, stay well, and have fun learning together!