As a former teacher, I didn't have a complete heart attack when the schools announced they'd be closing their doors for the remainder of the school year due to COVID-19. I was actually pretty excited about this new opportunity to disciple and teach my children. However, I know for most parents this is an overwhelming universe of unknowns. I pray my Type-A, former-teacher-self can offer you help, clarity, and sanity as we complete the rest of the school year from our very own homes. Since there is only three months of school left and our schools are providing virtual instruction, we don't need to worry about purchasing curriculum. But we do need to figure out how to make this all work in a way that is successful for ourselves and our children. So here we go, homeschooling on the fly.
To start the morning, we have breakfast together and read Scripture from a children's Bible while we sit at the table. I find this to be the perfect time for my children to hear God's Word (ages 7, 5, and 2) because they're all sitting still and quiet while they eat early in the morning. We read with silly voices, emphasize words, ask them to act out actions, and pause to ask questions and explain tricky words. Below are some of the Bibles we have used and recommend.
After breakfast, they head upstairs to get dressed, make their beds, and brush their teeth. When they're all ready for the day we begin chores, including myself. I made a chore card for each kid every day of the week, except Sunday. Each child is given two chores per day which is very manageable for their ages. I also added another empty box on each card in case I need them to do an additional chore of my choosing. I downloaded free images from Flaticon so my younger kids could understand their responsibilities and composed the chore cards in PicMonkey. Each kid has a clip magnet on the fridge that holds their chore cards. Here's an example of what one day looks like for them.
Once their chores are complete, we get outside for some fresh air and exercise. We may play football, hunt for worms, go for a bike ride, or jump on the trampoline. Then, we come back inside to do our "morning time" together. I made the below chart, which you can download for free, and laminated it. My oldest, who loves to be in control, is in charge of telling us the schedule. First, we gather together in prayer. Then, we say the Pledge of Allegiance. I purchased a cheap flag at Walmart that the kids take turns holding. After that, they each open their folders and we work through free printable calendars I found on Pinterest. Once that is done, we work on our Scripture verse of the week and then do a quick storytime together.
For our Scripture verse memorization, I use the below schedule. I'm currently using Scripture verses provided by 22:6 Parenting (a discipleship program for kids). On the first day, I read them the verse and explain the context surrounding the verse. We break down every word and I explain the meaning. Then, I follow this schedule for the remainder of the week, making sure to check their understanding of the verse daily. We repeat the verse at least three times per day using different methods. You can download this memorization schedule below.
Once we've completed our morning time together, we move on to the work provided by their teachers. I work with one child while the other works independently and then we switch. We take a break every 30 minutes to an hour depending on their age. During their break period, they play outside or with each other inside. We stop for lunch and eat as a family. After that, we all get quiet time for an hour and a half--our youngest naps, the older two kids play quietly together, and I use that time to get some writing done. We play outside once quiet time is over and then come back in to complete any other unfinished assignments. I made the below schedule to help us remember all I want them to complete during the day. Initially, I filled in times for each activity but I've come to see the benefit of flexibility so I just try and make sure their activities are complete before dinner. I love having the time to pause and explore a question they pose or an art activity they want to do. Flexibility is key in this new homeschool life. It takes the stress off and allows us to enjoy one another.
The kids are responsible for the work provided by their teachers but I enjoy supplementing with our own activities. For example, we're doing Mail Mondays. I think it's important that our kids practice the skill of letter writing so they might make a card for a long-distance friend, or write a holiday card to a relative or send a letter to our sponsor child through World Vision. Tim has been doing science lessons with them a couple of times per week. We're also participating in our neighborhood's weekly themed door decorating as well as lessons provided from our church. They love seasonal activities so we've been busy doing Easter crafts as well.
To end, I want to provide you with a few tips:
1. Do what works for your family and own it!
2. Give yourself grace. There will be lots of imperfection on this journey.
3. Find fun places for your kids to work and read.
4. Go outside, a lot!
5. Entertain their ideas and explore the answers to their questions.
6. Give yourself some quiet time to decompress.
7. Weave God into all you do.
If this new homeschool life has you spinning, I pray these resources help you settle into a new routine. Don't concern yourself with reinventing the wheel. Just "steal" all the free resources out there to help you be successful. Try to enjoy this unexpected God-given time to pour into your children and build everlasting connections.
I'd love to hear your how you're homeschooling on the fly. Share any ideas in the comments and feel free to pin the image below =).