If you’re a mama or dad to school aged kids and you’re reading this, congrats! You’ve made it through the first week or two of what has been appropriately dubbed on the world wide web as “Quarantine School.” I can say that I never looked more forward to spring break as a parent than I did to this break. I’m guessing teachers were in the same boat, too. The good news is, right before break hit, we finally found a groove around here and our new schooling routine started to feel like it was settling in. I wanted to share what’s working for us, what we’re struggling with, and what my goal is for my family through this unprecedented period in our lives, families, and homes.
What’s Working For Us
- Each kid has their own device. This is definitely my #1 recommendation. We would not be able to get through school every day if we didn’t have a device for each kid. The amount of logins, apps, and programs each kid uses is kinda insane, so having them all saved in the computer so they can just click links and open up the assignments to they own accounts is a life saver. I forgot my laptop in Josh’s car one day when we had to go to the office, and that ended up being my most overwhelming day because the kids had to share.
- Don’t try and do anything else while schoolwork is being done. I wish I could say that I get the kids all set up and that’s that, but it isn’t the case. They ALL require my attention. I would love to get my work done while the house is quiet and everyone else is working, but as soon as I’ve helped one kid open or understand their next assignment, another kid needs my attention. A lot of days, I have four kids who all need my attention with some or all their entire math lesson. That’s like two hours of just doing math. I’ve also noticed the kids tend to miss or glance over some of the required assignments, so I’m constantly needing to go over their checklists with them to make sure they’re not missing anything. Our little 3rd grader has gotten saddled with the most work. Hers alone requires three to four google documents or google slides being created, completed, and shared in addition to lots of apps and modules to complete. She is a great independent worker, but it takes a lot of computer literacy to even get to her assignments.
- Take a lunch and recess break. We’ve been taking advantage of the school lunches being provided. It helps break up our school day to go down to the boys’ elementary school and grab lunches for all the kids. If you’re in Utah and you’re somehow not aware, all children ages 1-18 in the state can get a free bagged breakfast and lunch every school day. I honestly feel like having “school lunch” helps create a school environment in our home, too. The kids get a break while they’re eating and sometimes will go out to play for a bit too.
- Set a time limit. We’ve realized that we cannot be doing school for more than three or four hours every day. So when the kids get too frustrated or are having a hard time concentrating, we decided as parents that we would let them be done. So far, everyone has gotten all their schoolwork done every day, but it’s something that we decided we wanted to have a boundary for!
- Print off what you can and take pictures of the finished work to submit to teachers. I noticed, especially with our 3rd grader, that if I printed off all her assignments and had her do them more like a written worksheet than an online shared cloud document, she was able to get it done much easier. Not only does printing it off take away the confusing computer parts, but I’ve noticed the work is actually done better, too. Adding the computer in for these little ones just confuses things more, so going back to a basic “worksheet” really helped ALL of us.
- Call it what it is. This is not HOMESCHOOL. I don’t get to choose the curriculum, there are no field trips or homeschool groups. Go easy on yourself. You’re doing the best you can, and that’s enough!
Our Family Goals
- Do the best we can. That’s my number one. In my head, as a former overachiever kid in school, I want to say that we will do 100% of the required work. So far we have, but I also know there are going to be days where we will throw in the towel early because that’s what we will all need.
- Continue to do more TOGETHER. I honestly love this time. The schoolwork is taxing, BUT we LOVE being together as our family! We’re a pretty brand new blended family, so we’ve been in this phase of wanting to be together a lot even before Covid. This has given us even more time to get to know each other and figure out our new roles in our family. Here are some of our favorite things to do.
- Play a game. Current favorites are Sequence, Sequence Kids, and Battleship.
- Do a puzzle.
- Build barbie/doll rooms. Josh’s daughters are so creative with this. They don’t have a lot of actual barbie accessories. They make them out of craft supplies, and they’re seriously so cool! We use storage cubbies as the house base. The girls have one with 6 cubbies currently.
- Get outside. We love playing catch (although Josh and I both think we broke our shoulders, elbows, and everything else on our throwing arms last week), playing basketball, taking longer walks, sidewalk chalk, bubbles, bike and scooter riding, and adventuring. Antelope Island was our favorite place last week! It’s very easy to stay distant from other groups out there.
- Watch a family movie. We like playing “movie theater” and creating a whole fake movie experience.
- Pretend play. The kids made a whole cafe experience for lunch one day. So cute!
- Art. It’s on our windows, walls, refrigerator, doors…. it’s EVERYWHERE around here. And I LOVE it!
- Continue having our home be a safe place and a place of love and togetherness – even when this is through. I don’t know about all of you, but I’m already not looking forward to going back to “normal.” I love this normal, and love the glimpse we’re getting into having a world focused on families a little more. My goal is to remember everything we’re learning and keep the focus on our family.
What’s working for your family? What are your struggles? What are your goals? Leave comment below if you’d like to share!