One of the worst things about my grade school days was the mornings. I don’t think they ever went smoothly. They were chaotic and frustrating and getting out the door looked something like this: I was stressed because I lost something (a homework folder, something I printed 4 minutes earlier, something I promised my friend she could see), but I was still half asleep so I couldn’t remember that really clever place I put it that would guarantee I didn’t lose it. My sister was adamant about tying her shoes herself, but we were already 3 minutes late and my mom didn’t have time for patience. Plus, she was concerned that whatever outfit my sister had chosen for herself wasn’t weather appropriate so they were also bickering about a jacket. My dad was already out in the car, silently stewing about traffic and counting down the seconds before the drop-off line would be so long that it would push his freeway arrival time to rush hour and he’d be late for work.
Sound familiar? That might be an example of one of our more extreme mornings, but it seemed like there was always something. If it wasn’t mornings, it was late night panic about getting all my homework done before bedtime, or my sister crying at the kitchen table as my dad attempted to explain fractions. The beauty of distance learning is that nothing has to be rushed! There’s no reason to stress everyone out if you’re all going to be stuck in the house together anyway.
Kids thrive on schedules and routine, but that doesn’t mean it has to be identical to their normal school routine. In fact, it can’t be. They won’t have enough work and you don’t have enough time. Here’s a breakdown of how we suggest you treat your distance-learning schedule:
Wake up time: 8:00AM to 10:00AM
Let everyone enjoy their breakfast, be silly with their siblings, have a little screen time, and take the morning slow. Treat it like a lazy Saturday morning for the first couple of hours. If you’re working from home, this gives you some extra time to get your work day started; you can get up early (or not!), fire off some emails, and make a plan for the day.
Schoolwork: 10:00AM to 12:30PM
This is dedicated kid-time. They may need help with an assignment, a push to get started, or help with technology. If you have multiple students, everyone can sit at the same table and you can bounce between them. It counts if they’re helping each other! If you give them attention and structure at some point during the day, and they know they’ll get it, they’re less likely to bug you during off times.
Lunch: 12:30PM to 1:30PM
Get them involved in lunch! Give them time to go outside like they would at school, switch up where you sit to eat, and have them help you cook. This is a great time to teach them things that aren’t academic. Maybe someone wants to learn to make grilled cheese, or maybe you create a challenge for who can make a lunch with all the food groups. Keep it light!
Downtime: 1:30PM to 3:00PM
At some point, everyone will need some time apart. This is designated quiet time. For younger kids, you can use our reading bingo sheet, they can have some TV time, or they can color. Older students can keep working on schoolwork, they can fill out the reading bingo sheet, go on TikTok (learn a dance!), or do some arts and crafts. It’s normal for kids to have quiet time at school, and the ability to entertain themselves is a great skill to have. This is your chance to make some calls, catch up on emails, nap, whatever you need.
Group work: 3:00PM to 4:00PM
Bring everyone back together and do a group activity. It can be everyone helping with a school assignment, taking a walk together, reorganizing a room, or doing chores. There are so many things kids can learn and participate in that they aren’t exposed to at school. How wonderful would it be if everyone came out of school closures doing their own laundry?!
Freetime: 4:00PM to 5:30PM
Here’s another 90-minute chunk where they’re left to entertain themselves, but it doesn’t have to be as quiet as before. They can play outside, be silly together, or watch TV…it’s their freetime so let them choose! If kids know they’re guaranteed a time when they get to do the things they want, they’re more likely to behave and participate through everything else. This is another time for you to do you! Fix dinner (maybe they’ll want to help!), work again, sit in the closet with your hidden stash of Girl Scout Cookies…it’s your freetime too!
Regular activities: 5:30 to Bedtime
Treat this time like you always do. Things might be a little different without sports or after school activities, but use it as an opportunity for everyone to unwind.
Of course these can all be switched around or adjusted to fit your schedule. Find something that makes sense for your job, your family, and your life and roll with it. Once you find it, stay consistent, and if that schoolwork time gets really draining, please give us a call.