The kids and I have been sheltering in place since Thursday, March 12th when they got home from school. Since I’m considered high risk health-wise I pulled them out of school before schools here in Illinois officially closed and we stopped going to their activities before they were all cancelled. My kids haven’t been anywhere outside our home other than our yard and the car (for me to run a couple errands like picking up my paycheck and depositing it in the bank via drive thru).
It’s been hard for me transitioning from our busy schedules to long days with nothing to do but the extra family time has been nice and I’ve tried to focus on that instead of letting my anxiety about what is going on in the world get the best of me. After a week or so of lounging around (and my boys playing hour after hour of video games) my Type-A personality decided we needed a schedule to make sure our days had some productivity to them. This became especially needed once our stay at home order was extended to May (though I fear it may go on through the end of the school year). And now that e-learning has started up with mandatory school assignments, I have tweaked our schedule to include more learning time.
The schedule has changed probably a dozen times since I first drafted it mid-March as I tried to figure out what worked for my family. It should be noted that I’m also working from home and taking care of a toddler plus I have a child with Autism who needs a stricter schedule so this may be more detailed than other families need. I wanted to share our schedule because I thought it would be helpful for other families who may be looking to develop a schedule for their older kids. Personally I love seeing what other families are doing! Here is our weekday schedule right now:
The chunk of “school” time is based on when our school district has said teachers will be available for instruction and support. I give my 5th grader, who is on the Spectrum, movement and sensory breaks during that period of time otherwise the three hour period of learning is too difficult for him to work through. Ideally, I’d have them only do schoolwork for an hour and a half then take an hour break, then have them do another hour and a half of learning then another hour break but I’m trying to stick with the school district schedule to see how that goes. We might switch back to the other schedule with more breaks scheduled into the morning but I’m giving breaks to my son as needed so this one is working right now.
My boys (5th and 6th grade) have assignments given to them from the school that they find on Google Classroom, Schoology, or Seesaw. My oldest tends to get his work done within two hours and then reads or does another academic activity until lunch. He also is very helpful when it comes to helping his brother with his math work. I’ve given them other options of things they can do if they get their work done, like watching Science Mom & Math Dad Live Streams, doing math online (using Khan Academy, Aleks, or Prodigy), writing, or researching something that interests them.
The enrichment time in the afternoon after their extended lunch/recess break is for them to finish up schoolwork that they didn’t get done in the morning. They are both in band so this is also when they practice their instruments and a couple times a week they have video calls with the other band students and the band director. Other than that, I give them a list of activities they can do (I’ve found a bunch of great ideas from Parent Vault – a Facebook group I’m in) and encourage them to try new things. So far they’ve made brownies and a couple dinners, tried yoga, learned some words in sign language and Croatian, taken a virtual tour of Hearst Castle in California, done some coding, journaled about quarantine, learned about Anne Frank, listened to some Podcasts, and started passion projects related to their favorite sports. My oldest has also worked on a programming merit badge for scouts. My kids are typical tween boys who would prefer to play video games all day so that’s why I think having this time for “enrichment activities” built in to the schedule is important and I’m excited about all that they’ve tried and learned over these past few weeks.
Here’s the list of Enrichment activities that I’ve come up with but I also tell my kids that they can suggest things they’d like to learn/try during this time as well:
- Music: Band, Guitar Lesson
- Exercise: Soccer Skills, Karate, Yoga, Gym Assignments, Gymnastics, Dance, GoNoodle Games
- Language: Spanish, Croatian (Dad’s Language), Sign Language
- Social-Emotional: Meditation, Journaling, Social-Emotional Activity, 7 Habits for Kids
- STEM: Hands-on Project Kits, Hour of Code, Science Mom Live Stream, Typing Lessons, Robots, STEM Kits, LEGO Challenges, STEM Games, Digital Skills (Photo Editing, html, Social Media, etc), Make a “Simple” Machine, Build a Circuit, ChiTAG Young Inventor Challenge, Steve Spangler Science
- Extracurriculars: Boy Scout Merit Badges
- Exploring: Virtual Tours, Google Maps Treks, Zoo Animal Cams
- Art: Craft Projects, Doodlebuddy, Google Arts & Culture Tours, Color, Lunch Doodles
- Service: Plan/Implement activity w/ Emma (their sister), Service Project, Random Act of Kindness, Making Dinner
- Life Skills: Cooking/Baking Online Class, Learn Practical Skills
- Learning: TED Talks, Listen to a Podcast, Photography Class
- Fun: Make a Game, National Holiday Themed Activity
- Passion Project/Genius Hour
The early evening is spent as a family and we have dinner together, watch tv or a movie, play games, go outside, or do other things together. The later evening time is typically spent playing video games online with their friends. I have been letting them stay up later during this time than I typically would because they aren’t able to be with their friends every day at school and I think the social time is so important for them. I also let them play video games with their friends during the other free times throughout the day and on the weekends they have a lot more time to connect with friends electronically as well.
Overall, the schedule has been working pretty well for us. Schoolwork is getting done, our house is staying decently picked up thanks to daily chore time, and everyone is happy (well mostly happy- they are preteens after all lol). I’m not getting as much work done as I’d like to but I’m trying to be easy on myself and realize that I can’t do everything. I love this reminder from Happy As A Mother that it’s impossible to work full-time, parent full-time, and educate our kids full-time and that it’s not the time to increase the expectations we have on ourselves (though I still try to think I can because that’s just my personality lol):
What does your schedule look like? Do you have one? (I’m kind of envious of people that can live schedule free…) I’d love to hear what you all are doing during this time! Feel free to share with me on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram :)