Low-Stress Homeschooling Tips During The PandemicMay 18, 2021
“Now, the ways in which different people are approaching home learning is really varying. It varies state by state and school by school. Some schools have full-fledged remote learning up and running and it is going great. Other schools have just given optional assignments to their families and they can't require remote learning.”
This week on the 3D Parent Podcast, we'll share with you valuable insight on how to create a flexible and low-stress home learning routine for your family.
We will also look at the daily routines that we're doing and those being set up by people for their families. Like me, a lot of you are sure to have made even a minor adjustment to the routines that you've already set up initially to make them work even better.
I hope you find inspiration in our episode discussion and find the tips that we'll discuss to be helpful and beneficial, not just today, but all throughout your parenting journey.
Things You Will Learn
[02:03] People approach home learning in different ways. While some institutions have full-fledged remote learning up and running, other schools have just given optional assignments since not everyone has access to the required equipment and some families have parents whose line of work is in the medical field, or at the grocery store, which makes it hard for them to supervise this remote learning setup for their kids. The system is working for families in different ways, and some are in fact creating their own home learning curriculum. Many are actually enjoying this homeschooling idea while others find it highly frustrating, as they need to juggle that along with work. All of this juggling, along with supporting children can be really challenging.
[04:52] So, I’m going to cover this topic of setting-up a flexible daily routine that you may emulate, which I think is applicable and appropriate for your kids no matter what age or grade level they are, from pre-school all the way up to high school and even beyond. I will share tips to aid you in troubleshooting common problem areas for most families that I'm hearing about through my clients, friends, and social media. I'm also going to talk a bit about supporting your children's social lives since they'll be wanting to connect with their peers and their friends while home on quarantine.
[05:48] The first thing that we’re going to talk about is the schedule, the routine. By now, you would’ve seen different people’s versions of their schedules all over social media. They’re really impressive, yet it stresses me out because they appear to be so regimented. Every 20 or 30 minutes are accounted for. Every single portion of the day is spelled out. There is no universal right or wrong way to do this. If it’s working for you and your family, that’s fantastic, and you should keep it up. However, if this type of structure started to backfire and is not working anymore, what you’ll need is more flexibility. Also, when you haven’t tried anything specific and you’re like constantly shooting from the hip, my system might be a better fit for you.
[09:40] So the way I set up our routine is with the use of sticky notes. This is a kind of concept that I came up with when I was looking at these schedules that stressed me out because they have too much structure and too rigid for me. I thought, “I need more flexibility,” just knowing myself and my own kids. I know I need to have the ability to move things if possible. You might ask, what needs to be on the sticky notes? I break the day up into basic categories, divide them into blocks, and I will talk about each a little more in-depth below and in the podcast.
[10:19] The first activity block is academic learning. This is where you would put any academic assigned work from teachers. If you don’t have any assignments that were given to you, you can find thousands upon thousands of resources online, I will link some up below.
[12:03] The second activity block I have listed is about creative time. Under this falls varied interests such as drawing, painting, singing, dancing, playing instruments, sewing, embroidering, knitting, building with Legos, cooking - any types of general crafting. There are many resources online and otherwise at your disposal that you can use as references. The deal here is to let your kids use their creativity and imagination to make something out of things like Amazon packages, since these may be coming more frequently now than they have in the past.
[12:59] Physical activity is our next activity block. It is quite obvious that your kids need to move, so this is a great way to give them a “brain break.” For this, you may utilize resources such as yoga videos, workout videos for kids available online and so on. You can also make it more fun by creating your own obstacle course inside your house, or even outside, weather permitting. There is no reason why you cannot go outside to move your body and exercise, so find ways to include these activities in your schedule throughout the day.
[13:32] Another activity block on our list is fitting in those meal times. Obviously, you’re going to feed your kids, but it’s going to be better if they follow a specific schedule and know when to take each meal of the day. By doing this, your kids will know when their food is coming and wouldn’t sound off like a broken record, telling you they’re hungry every now and then.
[14:08] The next activity blocks on the list are to read aloud and chores, respectively. So for reading out loud, it is really nice to do this reading activity with the children during the day. Although you’d normally reserve it for tucking your kids into bed at night, now you have so much time in your hands and you’re together the entire day. Now is the perfect time to expose your kids to books. Meanwhile, chores are part of everyone’s everyday life. Now that everyone is at home so much, your house is getting messed-up a lot quicker. Having a portion of the day wherein you’ll ask your kids to do chores makes for a good use of time as well.
[15:48] The next activity block on our schedule is alloted for outdoor time. Even now, as part of our efforts to promote physical activity, it is a good idea to spend a portion of your time to go outdoors at least once a day. Go outside, take a walk, kick a soccer ball around, it’s also a great use of your time so you might as well take advantage of every opportunity. This schedule is something that I set up for my little kids everyday but your older kids like those who are in middle school and high school may also benefit from the same system. Since they’re older, you can have them create their own schedule and decide which activity block components to focus on, in this particular day.
[18:13] Now, let’s discuss some tips for troubleshooting common problem areas that may arise in this kind of setup. Most of us will find the need to adjust since this is something that we haven’t always done and therefore are not used to. Sometimes, our work tasks also get in the way of us trying to fulfill this remote learning strategy. So my suggestion is to prepare all of the academic stuff that you want your kids to be doing the night before. If you're going to get them going on a special creative project, get it all set out and organized beforehand, at least the night before as well.
[19:15] Before getting busy with your prepped schedule, I highly encourage everybody to get out of their PJs and get dressed. Doing this will be extremely beneficial in helping the brain shift from vacation/weekend mode to a regular school day. But if it's working for you guys to stay in P.J.'s all day long and your kids are not struggling to kind of get down and do the academics, then great.
[20:14] About screen time, most of the resources for the activities that your kids can do are gathered from or done online. There are also numerous apps and websites that offer enrichment activities for kids. However, too much screen time isn’t advised, especially for your young kids. My suggestion is saving the screen-based learning activities for later in the day, or at the latter part of your schedule.
[21:18] Here’s another troubleshooting tip you can apply when you don’t know what your kids should be doing once they’re done with the pre-planned activities on your schedule: have them read. For instance, when you put in an activity that your kid is able to finish much earlier than you anticipated, letting them read is always a good option.
[22:49] The last troubleshooting topic I want to bring up is all about knowing when to take a break from the home learning routine. It’s important to figure out when to do this because honestly missing a day or a week or even a few months of academics is not going to have a lifelong consequence for your child. Simply put, if you're struggling with your kids and they're not following your lead, or not following your direction, stop. You don't need to focus on any of that for a little while. Instead, focus on reconnecting and connecting on a deeper level with your child. Play, get creative, watch movies, and last but not the least, have a good time.
[25:19] Like I mentioned at the beginning of this episode, I’d like to take a minute to talk about helping social kids continue to have their outlet while quarantining at home. Unlike any other time, right now, there’s no pressure to socialize or go out into the world every day. So in introverts, stress and anxiety may be reduced a little bit. The same cannot be said for our extroverted family members and friends, though. They're struggling right now because they have such a need to connect with other people, and don’t have as many opportunities to do so other than with family. So when kids have a lot of friends and a big drive to be social, there's some hardship that come with that too.
[26:54] I invited my son Scooter onto the podcast, the most extroverted and social child in my household to come and talk a little bit about how he’s meeting his super social and extrovert needs during this time.
[30:51] I will end with my last troubleshooting tip, which is basically to accept that it's going to take some time to get into a home learning rhythm. I found it very interesting to learn that for families who have moved their kids from traditional schooling to homeschooling, it takes on average about a month per year that a child has been in traditional school to adjust to home learning. Taking that into account, it's going to take four to six months and so on to adapt to this new style.
Mega List of Free Educational Website Resources
Quotes From Episode 25
"Reading is always a good option because books can open kids up to so many different ideas and thoughts. You're increasing their vocabulary. It's just a really good use of their time."
“If the home schooling routine is not working out and it feels like it's damaging the relationship between you and your child, and you’re forcing them to do their work or you're threatening them if they don't get their work done...it's time to stop."
“You're going to have to understand that this is not going to come overnight. It's not going to be easy to immediately be able to get your child and your family into a routine that is going to work every single day. So give yourself some space and give yourself some grace.”
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