Have you suddenly found yourself homeschooling? Are you thinking to yourself, “I most definitely did NOT sign up for this!”? Or maybe you feel like you are drowning as you are trying to help your kids with school and still do your job with all the people at home now. I know that we definitely feel that way around here. I have found myself, a former kindergarten and 1st grade teacher, juggling helping and serving teachers during these uncertain times and setting up homeschool around here.
Here’s the truth, friends.
This is not how this all was designed to work. Amazing teachers are working around the clock to figure this out, too. This is new territory for just about everyone!
Last summer, we had to figure out how to have two adults working from home with 3 littles (6, 5, and 1 at the time). As things are rolling out this time, I have gone back to what worked for us last summer and adjusted. Here are 4 tips for setting up homeschool for your family!
Set some expectations.
Take some time to think through what you want each day to look like. There is no right or wrong. There is only what works best for success for your family. THAT is success.
Maybe ask yourself…
- Where will kids work? The kitchen table, a kid-sized table, or lap desks all work great! Don’t feel like you need to completely revamp an area for something that will not last forever.
- When will they work? Does your family stay up late and sleep in or are they early birds? When do your kids do their best work?
- What do you expect when you are teaching? Can they interrupt you? Can they get up and go to the restroom whenever they want?
- What time do you want your day to begin? Kids need routine and thrive in routine. Yes, you can change things that aren’t working and you SHOULD, but let them know what to expect.
Tip: Have the kids help you decide some of these things. Write them down and display them. In the classroom, we would sign a classroom contract.
Set a Schedule
- What time do you want your day to begin? Kids need routine and thrive in routine. Yes, you can change things that aren’t working well and you SHOULD. But let them know what to expect.
- Display the schedule so they know what to expect. Grab my schedule cards here to use!
- Adjust the schedule as needed. Weather changes, attitudes change, and circumstances change. Don’t feel like you are married to the schedule. Remember, classroom teachers adjust things ALL the time!
Tip: When we set a schedule and make it known, it lets everyone know the expectation. It sets everyone up for success.
CLICK HERE to see our family schedule.
I found that works best for our family is letting everyone know where and what everyone is doing. Since my husband and I both work from home, we needed to carve out work time for both of us.
Create something that works for your family!
Make a Content Plan
- Decide what to teach. What do your kids need more work on? What did their last report card show? What is their reading level? What are they interested in? Do you have a google classroom for a child, but not for the other?
- Decide how you will teach it. What materials will you need? This is when I make a simple spreadsheet or jot things down on sticky notes. You can see mine HERE from the last week. You’ll see that it’s not perfect. It’s not long. It’s what my kids needed and what I knew would keep their attention!
- Gather teaching supplies in advance. Otherwise, you run around like a crazy person and kids go bananas. I keep everything for the week in a folder and inside a tub as I am setting up homeschool materials.
Tip: Keep your kids’ interests and age in mind when you do this. Don’t make yourself crazy trying to do it all. You are not in a traditional classroom setting.
Decide How You are Going to Teach Various Ages/Levels
Many of us are teaching kids on different levels. How are we going to help the 5-year-old and the 7-year-old? How will you keep the 1.5-year-old busy?
If you need to do one-on-one with them (this is my case), then perhaps stations could work. They don’t have to be fancy or complicated! Many things our kids do as “play” are also great brain work- Legos, Magnatiles, coloring, puzzles, etc.
You can see some of my station activities HERE that I did in the classroom. HERE you can see what we did for morning work, too!
Open two to three stations a day. For example, maybe a library station, sight word station, and STEM station will be open. While you work with one child, the other two can be at a station. Set a timer. When the timer goes off, then you can rotate them.
Choice is key here! Let them pick where to go. Don’t forget you may need to go over your expectations for stations as you are setting up homeschool.
HERE were mine in the classroom! Basically, work at your station and don’t interrupt me unless it’s an emergency. 😉
As I am prepping each child’s work for the week, I put them in a tub. Each child has their own tub. This helps us keep from making a mess. At the end of the week, I go through the tub and recycle what we are done with and keep what we will use next week. This also serves as their “toolbox” so to speak.
Must-Do /May-Do Lists
For kids who do well with options and can move through things on their own, using a must-do /may-do system could be great!
With this system, you list things that the child MUST-DO and things they MAY-DO. Then, decide how many from each are appropriate.
Maybe there are 2 MUST-DOs from the list that need to be done daily and 2 MAY-DOs from the list. Each week you simply change out their list to make sure they are getting all of their work accomplished.
Remember friends, there is no right or wrong way to do this whole homeschool thing. Setting up homeschool doesn’t need to be overwhelming. Figure out what works for your family and roll with it! Many of us are figuring this out and trying to juggle working as well. Teachers are working hard to make things easier for parents.
We are all in this together! We won’t be here forever so soak up the gift of extra time. We are writing history, friends.