As a mama trying to figure out school during a pandemic I have struggled to figure out what our days will look like while I work and try to teach my littles. I am grateful to be connected to Heather at Lessons from Home. She is a homeschool veteran and a fellow mama blogger! She has graciously offered to share her wisdom on how to create a schedule that encourages learning as well as allows the working mama the much needed time needed to complete her work tasks for the day.
Many families are facing a major lifestyle change (as if quarantine wasn’t enough!) this year as they try to figure out an educational plan that they feel is best for their children. I talk to moms almost daily who are on the fence about whether or not to homeschool and almost each one mentions to me that they are worried about how they are going to work and homeschool. It’s tough! The best advice I can give is to create a schedule and plunge ahead.
This post is intended to provide you with some ideas and homeschool tips to help you get into your own groove and make this a wonderful experience not only for your kids, but for yourself as well!
Create a Schedule for Homeschool
Whether you are new to homeschooling or have been at it for years, it’s important you take a look at your own personality and that of your kids.
Many first time homeschoolers fall into the trap of trying to recreate public school at home. Avoid this. You are at home, surrounded by life and all the activities that go on in a normal home. Your child is not at school with a teacher whose sole focus is to teach them for 8 hours.
You will find that it doesn’t take 8 hours of seat work for your child to accomplish their educational goals. For elementary aged children it is half of that. If your child cruises through their main subjects in a short period of time, don’t rush to find something educational for them to fill in space. Let them play. Give them opportunity to explore their own interests and talents.
If you are more of a go with the flow free spirit then keep your homeschool schedule loose and flexible. Have a list of subjects that are a priority for each day and then wing all of the “extras”. (For those of you who are using curriculum assigned by the school, this would be whatever core work is assigned.)
Priorities would include:
- Grammar or English
- History or Geography
The Extras would include:
- Computers (typing and coding)
Structured Routines and Schedules
I fall into this category myself. And I think that many moms who find themselves both working and homeschooling will need to rely on creating a schedule that keeps everyone on task. I talk about our family’s homeschool schedule in “How to Create a Homeschool Schedule that Works”.
Every family’s schedule will look different because of the various obligations. When creating your schedule take these into consideration.
- Core subjects should be taught 4 days a week (or whatever your guidelines are if you are distance learning).
- Outside time is a must and they need a lot of it so schedule several of these 20-30 minute breaks.
- Quiet time is a lovely idea. I insist on one or two hours a day so the younger kids can nap and I can work. This gives the older kids time to read or pursue their own interests.
- Lifeskills are school too so include cooking, cleaning, and chores as part of the school day. This will help keep the house running and leads us into our next schedule.
If you didn’t see it during quarantine, you will this fall: having everyone home makes the house messy! I vividly remember a friend mentioning it to me and I had to smile, she now understood my life.
Creating a housework schedule is a must. Include the kids whenever possible. I find it is best to have short clean up times through out the day.
What is a Good House Cleaning Routine?
The best answer to that is what works for you. What areas of your home do you need to be clean in order to feel comfortable and for things to run smoothly? Focus on those areas daily.
For me, I insist that the dishes are done after every meal, the house is swept and vacuumed, bathrooms are wiped down, and the toys and school supplies are put away at the end of the day. The whole family pitches in for these chores.
Why Is Meal Planning Important?
Because it’s one less thing to think about! When you are thinking about work, and your children’s education, appointments, errands, and everything else that fills your day, supper can get overlooked. However, the young people in our charge rarely take it well when their meals are forgotten and we tend to reach for something easy and quick (and most likely less healthy).
Plan your meals! Shop for a week or two at a time so you have the ingredients on hand. My crockpot is my best friend. I throw supper in it at lunch time and then don’t have to think about it until my work is accomplished, school is finished, laundry is folded, and we are wrapping up our day.
Work From Home Schedule
Everyone’s schedules are different so there is no one size fits all for a work from home schedule. These tips might be helpful to you as you plan your day:
- Get dressed just like you would if you were heading to work. I know the running joke during quarantine was about pajama pants, but honestly, you will feel more productive if you get yourself ready for the day.
- Take advantage of morning time. If you can work a little before your kids are awake, you already have a jump on the tasks for the day and will not feel overwhelmed if someone wakes up cranky or spills milk all over the floor just as you are sitting down at your computer.
- Work snacks and meals into your routine. This was another area my public school friends complained about during quarantine. How often their kids asked for a snack. Again, normal life for us homeschoolers. My advice is to schedule snacks and meals. They will learn not to interrupt you or avoid their own work by asking for something to eat.
- Schedule your work during quiet time. I mentioned this in the homeschool section. I insist that all of the kids engage (separately because it prevents fighting and rowdy behavior) in their own quiet activities for 1-2 hours every afternoon. My youngest naps and I have 1.5 (mildly interrupted) hours to work.
- Allow screens when they fit your work schedule. Have a designated screen time and use it for your work time.
Imperfect Life Balance talks about this in Kids Daily Schedule for Working Moms and Creating a Schedule as Working Parents-Stay Productive and Sane. As a full time working mom of a four year old and seven year old, she gets it.
One of my favorite tips by her is “Another tip for creating a schedule for working parents is to be intentional with lunch time and the time after work. Because we really cannot spend much time with our kids during the work day – make sure you dedicate your lunchtime to your kids. If you can – go outside. Let them get some fresh air and run around and burn some of that energy.
And do the same after work. While we are home with our kids all day long – we are not really with them. Therefore, we need to make sure we spend that quality time with them after work. If this becomes part of your daily routine, it will also give your kids something to look forward to during the work day”
I have fallen into this trap as a homeschool mom. We spend hours together doing school and I sometimes forget that even though I am with them all day, it isn’t always the quality time they are looking for.
A Couple More Ideas for Creating a Schedule
You will figure out what works for your family and do not stress during the first month or two. Both you and your kids are trying to figure out this new routine so even if you think you’ve landed on the perfect schedule, don’t hesitate to tweak it a bit.
Block scheduling is dividing subjects or tasks up into longer chunks of time and then rotating them. For instance, We do social studies/history one month and then science the next month. I feel it helps us focus better and not try to squeeze too many subjects into our day.
We enjoy doing this with the extras as well. One month we work on typing and the next month we work on coding.
This might be an option for your day as well. Can you dedicate certain days of the week to work projects and then other days of the week can be focused on school?
Loop scheduling is another tactic that many people have found helpful. The Proverbial Homemaker explains it this way:
Loop scheduling is simply a way of organizing your work into a rotating list. Here’s how it works:
- Write out a list of the tasks you want to accomplish over the course of 1-3 weeks
- Do a certain number of those tasks each day (however many you decided ahead of time)
- The next day, move on and do the next tasks!
- Tasks that need to be done more than once in that timeframe are listed multiple times
- When you’ve gone through the entire list, start over!
That’s pretty much it! Loop scheduling is incredibly simple, easy to tweak for your needs, and flexible to fit any type of work you need to manage.
I hope all of these ideas to create a schedule have helped and not overwhelmed you! It’s ok to try a couple of different tactics until you land on what works for your family. Patience is key. And give yourself grace 🙂 You will do great!
Hi, I’m Heather from Lessons from Home. I’m in love with my five kids, homeschooling, and all things chocolate. At lessons from home I share my homeschooling and parenting journey along with the lessons God teaches me as I learn to follow Him wherever He leads. Healing from loss is a major part of my story as my family walks the dark path of grief after losing my beautiful 8 year old daughter.