Try this Homeschool Schedule (Created by a Teacher) During Quarantine

If you’re choosing to homeschool your kids while school is not in session you might find this schedule helpful. I’ve been using a version of this schedule with my second grader, sixth grader, and eighth grader for the past five or six weeks. You’ll notice some of the activities are more appropriate for elementary students (grades two – four), while others are more appropriate for upper elementary/middle school students (grades five – nine).

Overall, I have found the activities to be flexible enough that all three of my kids can access them.

I’ve been a teacher for 16 years and have been a teacher educator (teaching teachers how to teach) for six years. To be completely honest, when this homeschooling thing started I thought “No problem. I know how to teach.” 

Well, our first week of homeschooling was quite disastrous — crying (them and me), refusal, yelling.

Someone (me) may or may not have called someone else (them) a naughty name during a reading lesson. After a week of failure I went back to the basics.

These are the three main rules I try to abide by in my classroom —maybe they’ll work for you too.

1. Choice, choice, choice.

Everyone, kids included, like to feel that they have some autonomy with what is happening to them. So the ninja teacher move is to decide on what is the non-negotiable, but give choice within that non-negotiable. For example, my personal non-negotiable is that my kids will do reading or writing, math, and something else for 90 minutes Monday through Friday. The choices they get are what they want to read/write, where they want to read/write, and what math they want to do (district resources, some other online math platform, or play a math game). 

2. Focus on the desired action, not on the behavior.

Is my kid reading? If the answer is yes—I leave them alone—even if they are rolling their eyes or saying snarky things to me while getting out their book to read. (After all, I am the one who called my kid a naughty name during reading class—so those who live in glass houses, blah, blah, blah).

3. First, do no harm.

There’s quite a bit of research (some of which I wrote about in this blog post) that parent attitude around school work has a profound and lasting impact on the way kids approach school, and their own learning—especially the way they see themselves as learners and their ability to learn. So, if every time I try to get my kid to practice addition facts or read a book we end up screaming at each other, I’m actually doing more harm than good and I should just butt out.

With these three guiding principles in mind, we set out on this homeschool schedule:

The kids eat breakfast and get dressed

(I have found that school in PJs is about as productive as me attending Zoom meetings in PJs—in other words—it’s not).

20 minutes

Watch CNN 10 on whatever device they want (choice). Find something you heard about on CNN 10 that you want to know more about (choice). Google it. Tell someone what you found out (sibling, parent, pet, call a grandparent and tell them). Choice, Choice. Choice.

30 minutes

Break.

60 minutes

Kids complete the tasks shown below. I’m using a choice board with must do/may do. The must-dos must be done every day. The may-dos are all of the optional work—they can choose what to do, but they have to be busy for the remaining 60 minutes.

Must Do

  • Look up Zoom meetings teachers have scheduled for the day. Which meetings will you attend?
  • Look up any assignments teachers have posted or emailed. Which assignments will you complete?

May Do

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Kate is the mom to Jack (2006), Liz (2007), and Alice (2011) and an avid Cubs fan through marriage. She's an assistant professor of mathematics and STEM education at St. Ambrose University and also moonlights as a mathematics teacher at South East Junior High in Iowa City. Between soccer, running club, tumbling, and piano lessons she likes to cook, run, and do yoga. She's also a sucker for 5Ks with cool swag and awesome medals.

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