The next 2 or 3 weeks will be challenging for all of us as we are confined to our homes along with our children. If you have already been homeschooling, it may be business as usual. However for people who have recently had to adjust to a surprise break from the traditional school system, there are some tips I have that may help you keep your sanity. My mess is my message, and the only way I am able to give you these tips is because I have been to crazy town and back several times on this homeschool journey. Every time I visit crazy town I take back a lesson with me so that I am better equipped to continue.
Structure is Key
At this point our lives are pretty structured by our jobs, school, extracurricular activities, etc. But now that everything has come to a halt, all structure is out the window. Send help! Kids want, need, and crave structure, predictability, and routine. It is now up to you to provide some type of structure during this time of unstructure. As the old adage goes, 'If you fail to plan, you plan too fail."
So what does that look like? First I would encourage you to sit down with your kids and see if they have any input on how they would like to structure this time together. You'd be surprised at how creative and inspired your kids can be when asked how they want to spend this time. You can take their ideas of what they want to do and plan accordingly. I would then type up the routine and print it somewhere where everyone can reference it. Be consistent and the days will flow.
A loose daily routine may look like this
8:00-9:00 Wake up, eat breakfast, read/play quietly
9:00-9:15 Morning family meeting to go over the day, check in with everyone on how they are feeling
9:15-9:45 Take care of any morning chores that need to be done
9:45-10:30 Play outside (weather permitting)
10:30- 12:00. Educational time (Homeschool/ Online Classes/ Shared learning)
12:30-12:30 Lunch /silent read
12:30-1:30 Electronic time (iPad, computer, tv)
1:30-3:00 Free Play (no electronics) It's ok if they're bored because being bored is a breeding ground for creativity
3:00-4:45 Family movie ( Movies are great educational tools) If you are not working from home, sit down with your kids and watch together
4:45-5:30 Outside play
5:30-6:00 Have kids help you prepare dinner
6:20-7:00 Free play ( no electronics)
7:00-8:30 Electronic time
8:30-9:00 Get ready for bed/ Get in bed
9:00-9:30 Silent read
9:30 Lights out
Shift Your Paradigm
Listen, we can do hard things. I know we can. You know what's hard..... spending all that time with your kids. But if you can take the approach with the posture of being grateful that you and your family have your health(I hope this is the case for you) then it can make this time not only tolerable but maybe even enjoyable. Perhaps this time will be a season of connectivity with your kids. Maybe you learn a new hobby together. Maybe you get really interested in their hobby, and they can teach you about it. Maybe the shared experience of watching movies together or playing board games on a daily basis will shape memories that shape their character. They may look back when they are older and view this time as special while the world around them seemed a bit uncertain.
Of course it will be key to get away from your kids as well. What that looks like in our house is during free play or electronic time I usually tell them that I cannot be disturbed unless it is an emergency, you know like blood or vomiting. If they can do this without fighting or issue than they will earn their iPad time for the evening.
Let's face it, we are in some weird, unprecedented times right now. It's not like spring break or summer break where we can line up camps, group playdates, community pool time etc. We are limited in what we can do, but if you approach it with the mental shift of connecting with your kids, it may be fun.
Morning is Key
Someone really smart said, "A directionless morning is like a boat without a rudder". I'm not sure that's an exact quote, but it's true. If you don't have a clear purpose and direction to start the day, you are lost at sea. This is why it is so important to make a schedule and put it in clear view of everyone in the house. Then have a family meeting every morning to go over the schedule. And yes, it is the same schedule as the day before but maybe today one of your kids has an elaborate plan to build a box city in your garage, build the Taj Mahal out of Legos, or have an epic nerf gun fight during free play. This is the time to discuss these ideas.
Also in our house we practice a routine called "SAVERS". A practice developed by the author, Hal Elrod, of the book "Miracle Morning" . We have been doing this for the past year without fail Monday-Friday. Whether it's a typical homeschooling day or we are on vacation or we are having a day off, we practice this. It's roughly a 6 minute activity that includes
Cool acronym, right? Again I don't take credit for this brilliant life altering practice, but I promise if you do it, you and your kids will benefit from it. If you want to read about this and be inspired as a parent/teacher, check this book out "Miracle Morning for Teachers".
Here's how it goes in our house:
Silence (1 min)- Simply sit together close your eyes and focus on your breathing
Affirmations- (1 min) Sounds cheesy but remember "As a man thinks so he is" When we say things out loud that we want to aspire to, your mind starts to shift and believe it. Check out this list of 100 affirmations kids can pick from
Visualization (1min)- This is done along with affirmations. As my kids are saying their affirmations, I tell them to see themselves doing whatever it is they are saying. I am saying my affirmations and visualizing right along with them.
Exercise (1 min)- I have playlist on my Spotify that is called "Have a Great Day". All the songs are upbeat. I pick one song and we all dance, jump, saunter, whatever, to move our bodies. One caveat to this is I had to implement a no touching rule as many times, this would end up in wrestling for my boys.
Reading- This may take a few minutes. Truth is sometimes this is reading, sometimes we watch short videos. Take this time to pick content that will motivate, inspire, and shape your kids' character. We have read/ watched/ listened to the Bible, Ted Talks For Kids, Apex Learning, Big Life Journal, Class Mojo.
Scribing (1 min)- Have your kids get a journal or notebook. Keep it in the same spot where it is easily accessible every morning. In our house we write for 1 minute about what we are thankful for. When you start the way in a grateful mindset, it sets the tone for the day.
Take all this and adapt it to how it will best fit your life at this time. By having structure and shifting your perspective, I hope your sanity will stay intact. I also hope you are encourage for this time ahead. Remember to relax and have fun.