With the recent spread of the coronavirus, chances are high that your kids will be at home (while you probably have to work from home as well) for the next few weeks. To attain some sort of balance between giving them screens for 16 hours a day and setting up a complete classroom at home, we asked a few educators and homeschooling parents for their top tips. From being okay with the fact that your kids will probably have above-average screentime to how important it is to keep a morning routine, keep reading for ideas on how to manage the kids’ schedule while school is closed.

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Try to find a balance between downtime and learning time.

“Let your kids have balance while they are off. TV and computer are great, but don’t let them spend the whole day in front of a screen, as tempting as it can be. You can embed some learning into their day,” says Tammy Molnar, a kindergarten teacher based in the Dallas suburb of Rockwall, TX. For example, there are plenty of activities for kids that will teach them a thing or two: Take the time to set up a science experiment, play math games, read books, or spend time in the kitchen.

Don’t let your morning routine fall to the wayside. 

We all know the summer days when no one gets dressed until noon. Yes, it’s nice, but research shows that kids thrive on consistency and routine, as it provides a sense of security, and in these uncertain times, kids need that more than ever. Get them up, feed them breakfast, pull out the workbooks or if the weather is nice, head outside. Save screen time for the afternoon.

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Set up a designated education space. 

Your kids have a space in the classroom, so why not give them a space at home? “It doesn’t have to be in a separate room,” says Natalie Cottrell, a homeschooling mom and founder of Grasshopper Academics a company that provides curriculum, downloadables, online consults and in-home visits to homeschool families around the country.

Take the time to prep (even just five minutes).

You write out your to-do list for the home and/or for work. Do the same for a daily lesson or two. “I usually get the kids to the table with a science video, we love mysteryscience.com, and then then I have our lessons planned out for the day. We use a literature-based curriculum—so basically just lots of reading. And lots of discussions about what we're reading.” says Dallas-based blogger and homeschool mom of two, Amanda Lauro.

Utilize resources being offered for free. 

There are a ton of free online resources being offered right now. We've got a roundup that includes 70+ of them herePlus, look for deals and freebies being offered for parents, like Raddish Kids, who has offered over 25,000 free kits for parents temporarily homeschooling. And, did we mention that we have a few ideas ourselves

Take it outside.

They don’t get enough outdoor time anyway, so if the weather is nice where you live, and you can spend time outside, do it. Take the time to ride bikes, dig in the garden, do messy art or set up an outdoor learning lab. After all, it’s recommended that kids be outside for three hours a day, so what better time than the present? Looking for the ultimate list of outdoor activities for kids? We've got you covered! 

photo: iStock

Set reasonable expectations for yourself (and your kids).

It’s okay to admit your kids probably won’t be getting the same level of instruction that they’re accustomed to. “Unless you are a trained educator, set reasonable expectations for you and your child during this temporary school closure time. Getting into an Ivy League school will most likely not depend on completing a difficult online math problem,” says Brian Galvin, Chief Academic Officer for Varsity Tutors, a Live Learning Platform that seamlessly connects experts and learners in any subject, anywhere, at any time.

—Gabby Cullen

 

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