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Emily Ley Blog

Simplifying Life in a Crisis #10: Planning Your Days as a New Homeschooling Mama

March 18, 2020

Hi, friends! My kids are calling me Mrs. Mommy. They think it's hysterical that I'm going to be teaching them. Whatever though, I like the name, haha! So, recently found yourself a new homeschooling mom, eh? Terrified? Overwhelmed? Cried a bucket of tears last night because you love your kids' teachers so much and can't imagine them not sitting in their classrooms again? Oh wait, that was me. I digress. Guys, we will get through this. I've polled a few veteran classroom teachers and added their tips to my own to bring you the information below. Also, in an effort to help, we have marked our remaining 2019-2020 (ending July 31, 2020) Simplified Teacher Planners down to $10 while they last. These are great for planning your homeschooling days and for managing your days this summer with kids home. Here are ten tips for you!

  • Don't try to be a replica teacher. They don't need that. They need love, nurture, play, and experience. You don't have to be just like your kid's teacher. In fact, you probably can't. They are trained professionals. But here's what you can do -- you can provide structure, compassion, and opportunities for learning. 
  • Remember kids need to move. The average attention span of a child, at any age, isn't as long as ours. Sitting them in front of a table and asking them to do worksheets for four hours will backfire. Get outside for a game. Have a dance party. Go for a walk. Stretch. Chase each other around the house. Get the wiggles out. It'll be good for you too. Kidz Bop teamed up with Obe for a few fun workout videos! Cosmic Yoga is also fun. GoNoodle has great videos to encourage movement indoors, if its raining.
  • Anchor the cadence of your day with set meals and quiet times. For instance, wake at 7am, lunch at 12pm, quiet time at 1pm, dinner at 6pm, bed at 7pm. Then, fill in the gaps flexibly with either learning, creative time, or outside time as it works for your family that day.
  • Make a list of ideas in a planner for #allthethings. Here are a few ideas for lists: educational ideas, art ideas, outside ideas, Christian-ed ideas, lunch ideas, breakfast ideas, snack ideas. You get the picture. Consult great Instagram accounts for good ideas. We love Busy Toddler.
  • Plan your days on a Weekly Calendar (you can use the Simplified Teacher Planner, the Simplified Weekly Planner, or our free weekly printables here or here). Map it out as a guide, but remember, all you need to do is hit those cadence anchors (meals, bedtimes, etc). Choose one fun inside thing and one fun outside thing to do every day. That's really all you need. The rest will fill itself in. In my Simplified Teacher Planner, here's what I'm doing: the days of the week are down the left side. Across the top there are six column headers. I'm using: breakfast, inside activity, lunch, outside activity, Christian-ed (a verse we'll talk about), and dinner. Doing this helps me prepare and gather what I need the day prior.
  • Consider themes! Themes are fun. One day could be math day. See how they can incorporate math into everyday things - sort your snack into like shaped groups. Count your stairs in the house. How many Cheerios do you think are in this jar? Ideas: math day, letter day, Spanish day, space day, water day, cooking day, color day, etc.
  • Embrace quiet time. This is so important. Kids need time to be bored so their imaginations can crank up. I send my kids to their rooms every day at 1pm. They are allowed to do anything in their rooms quietly until 3pm. This includes napping, reading, coloring, playing with legos / dolls, building forts, whatever. The rule is: you stay in your room until the clock says 3:00. It's always a battle to get into the rhythm but once we do its magic. Also, it's understood that Mommy has a job and this is when Mommy will be working. 
  • Get creative. Now is the time to get scrappy! There are so many places you can download free worksheets (I've been using education.com) and many places online are offering cool experiences for you to participate in. We've loved the Cincinnati Zoo's Home Safari Facebook Lives!
  • Keep it simple. Learn by living. Today, instead of a "lesson," we made nachos. Yep, nachos. The kids did it all themselves. They learned about cooking, about how a microwave works, number recognition on the microwave screen, how cheese is made, and, of course, how to clean up their own messes. Boom! Teach your kids how to crack an egg, how to make a bowl of cereal, how to set the table, how to empty the dishwasher. The list goes on and on when you think simple. Taylor, from Team Simplified, was a classroom teacher for many years. She said, "When I teach a child, I always follow the system 'I do, we do, you do.' I will show them how to do something, then we do it together, then they do it. If it doesn't click, we start from the top."
  • When it gets too hard, throw in the towel. Yep, I said it. When it becomes too much and attitudes are out of sorts and your patience is low and everyone is saying mommymommymommymommymommy, throw in the towel. Put your phone down. Put the computer down. Put the lessons down. Make a bowl of popcorn, turn on a movie, and snuggle up with your kids on the couch. Everything can wait.

Remember, none of us have done this before. This is new for all of us and we're figuring it out as we go. More than any education or instruction or classroom experience, your kids need you to have a happy heart, to show them love, and to be their safe place to land right now. Their little worlds have been turned upside down too. They miss their teachers and they miss their friends. Make it fun. Love them through this. The magical part about this horrendous situation is that we get this time. We get to be the ones. 

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I've gathered a few resources that I hope you will find helpful.