After having homeschooled her own children for a little over an hour, TV writer and producer Shonda Rhimes advocated for the value and importance of teachers. In that hour, she realized how much effort and planning are required to provide quality education to children. Similar to Ms. Rhimes’ experiences, many parents and families are trying to ensure their children stay engaged and active while at home under their care and supervision. Here are some ways to ensure that occurs.
1. Create a Schedule Every Day
Creating a daily schedule establishes a routine, and children thrive when there is consistency in their lives. To make sure that everyone is on board, it may be helpful to gather everyone for a family meeting and come up with a daily schedule together. For example:
- 7-8 am: Wake up, get ready and eat breakfast
- 9-9:30 am: Exercise and snack time
- 10 am-noon: Work on school packets or log into online learning (if the school is offering online instruction)
- Noon-1 pm: Lunch
- 1-2 pm: Quiet time or Drop Everything and Read (DEAR) time
- 2-3 pm: Art and writing
- 3-4 pm: Playtime
- 4-5 pm: Help prepare dinner
- 5-7 pm: Dinner and family discussion
- 7-8 pm: TV or computer time
- 8-9 pm: Get ready for bed and bedtime story
2. Encourage Physical Activity
There are many free 20-30 minute exercise or dance videos on YouTube that children can follow along with. Or you could set up a series of stations where the children can do various exercises, such as jumping jacks, sit ups, squats or lunges. Furthermore, each child can assume the role of “Simon” in Simon Says, instructing the others via commands like “Simon says hop on one leg 10 times” or “jump rope 10 times.”
3. Prepare Healthy Snacks and Meals
Have the children create their own healthy snacks, such as fruit kabobs or ants on a log (celery sticks with nut butter and raisins). For lunch, have the ingredients readily available so they can create their own healthy and nutritious meals. Invite your children to assist you in meal planning and preparation. When the weekly grocery store ads come in via mail or email, lay them out and encourage your children to plan the meals with ingredients that may be on sale at the store(s). By having the children decide how to best spend the allocated weekly grocery funds, this could also be made into a good mathematics exercise.
4. Promote Reading and Literacy
Many publishers offer free resources for parents and families, such as Scholastic’s Learn at Home program. Once they finish a story or a book, have your child:
- Summarize what they read by creating a comic book.
- Create a readers’ theater by writing a screenplay about the story.
- Write letters to the book’s author, illustrator or characters.
5. Foster Family Discussions
Dinner time can be the perfect opportunity to have everyone reflect on their day. Some conversation starters could be “One thing that I learned today that was very interesting was…” or “I want to learn more about…”
Creating a schedule for every child that can be posted in their special area or room can contribute to the ownership of learning. When you provide these routines and authentic experiences for your children, they are more likely to be actively engaged and less likely to be bored when not at school.