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Kids crave routine. They get it at school and (for most kids) it works. Adults, on the other hand, suddenly find themselves working from home with their kids as their sometimes-bubbly, sometimes-bored office mates. These parents need flexibility.
How to merge these needs into a daily schedule that works for everyone?
Below is a strategy that worked for Seth, BGL’s founder, as he joined millions of people this week by unexpectedly doubling up on his day job to become a barely-there homeschool teacher. He followed this strategy with his first-grade daughter and it’s worked really well so far.
All of these steps should be completed with (or by) your child.
Step 1: Brainstorm all the things your child might want to do during the “school day.” We suggest listing things within categories: social calls, family contact, meals, projects, physical activity, written work, art and music, reading, math, virtual field trips, unstructured playtime, direct instruction from an adult, and, inevitably, screen time. It’s ok if some things are listed in more than one category.
Step 2: Create a bank of all your brainstormed activities. It should live in the same place you will write the schedule. Keep it organized by category. Tag activities for which they can be independent versus ones for which they might need help.
Step 3: Choose your medium. Will this be virtual schedule? Piece of paper? We suggest a white board for easy erasing with the activities bank printed out on paper and attached to the board.
Step 4: Choose your time increments. For younger kids try shorter time increments; for older kids try longer ones. Limit it to “school time” (really, your work time) – the rest of the day can be open. Let’s not get too crazy here!
Step 5: Begin to make the schedule: cross-reference your work schedule and identify times when you will be less available to support them. Drop items tagged as “independent” into those time slots.
Step 6: Next, drop in fixed appointments such as lunch, their daily call with grandma and their (now virtual) piano lesson.
Step 6a: If you have more than one kid, drop in activities that will be done in tandem leaving the rest of the remaining time slots open.
Step 7: Finally, give them full control over the rest of the schedule. Teach them how to consult the bank of activities and drop them into the schedule at logical times. Encourage choosing at least one item from each category and adding items to the bank. Consider double blocks for activities that might require more sustained attention. Revisit the parameters often, feel free to switch things around day-of and solicit their feedback. To reduce stress, do this on the weekend for the whole week or the night before each day. Be flexible!
We hope you find this helpful! Check out our other recent blog posts aimed at supporting this brand new crop of teachers formerly known as parents.
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