Taming the COVID 19 Schedule Chaos: Part 2 of Homeschooling is NOT the Same as Crisis Schooling
Updated: Apr 16, 2020
How do you tame the chaos when you’re working from home, teaching your kids, managing daily life, and you have to feed everyone five times a day? You have never used this many dishes in your life, and as soon as the dishes are done, the dirty dishes fairies pop out of thin air and leave more dirty dishes while you’re not looking! Before you started self- isolating on lockdown because of COVID -19 coronavirus, you didn’t even know there were dirty dish fairies, because they only prey on the weak and before this, you had it all together!
This article is ©2020 Heather Anne at Heather Anne Art and Soul. All rights reserved. See my copyright notice here.
This is part 2 of my Homeschooling is NOT Crisis Schooling series. Part one of this series, my blog post that went viral, Homeschooling is NOT the Same as Crisis Schooling: advice during coronavirus COVID -19 Shut Downs has resonated with so many parents, that people are contacting me, not only from around the United States., but from around the world!
How do you tame this chaos?
I will be honest with you, having run a business as well as having worked full time while homeschooling for 11 years, it IS doable but it is also hard! I cannot sugar coat it or pretend that I am super mom and I look cute all the time while I do this. I might wear a cape for fun, but it gives me no superpowers when it comes to having the perfect work and school at home schedule.
Know that there will be chaos and embrace it. Know that you might not always look cute, but when it counts, you’ll get there.
I’ve seen a lot of blogs suggesting you stick to a solid daily schedule:
8:00 a.m. Wake up children with a smile and cook them a delicious breakfast.
8:30 a.m. to noon Homeschooling... with a smile.
Noon: Nutritious lunch where everyone cooperates and cooks together.
1:00 to 4:00 Mommy’s uninterrupted work time while children nap and play together.
4:00 to 5:00 Family relaxation time.
5:00 Make dinner and eat together while discussing the day.
6:00 T.V. and quiet play time. Mommy gets more work done.
7:00 Bed time routine
8:00 Children in bed. Adults have their quiet time.
That sounds LOVELY! It’s just not likely to be realistic. If you try to force a strict schedule to work during a pandemic, when you are brand new to all of this homeschooling, crisis schooling thing, you might end up angry, resentful, frustrated and feeling out of control. You may end up being the one who has the tantrum.
Parents and children are already dealing with a lot of emotions just being stuck inside all the time. None of us are used to this! Homeschoolers do not stay inside all day long! We have vast communities and we get involved in sports, dance and other activities. All of us are crisis schooling! All of us are grieving so much loss and we are still reeling from the sudden halt to normal life.
We don’t know when normal life will resume so we are constantly waiting, worrying and maybe you even feel like you’re holding your breath. Don’t forget to exhale.
As I’m typing this, I’m still in my pajamas… not the ones from last night… the ones from the day before. I am on day two of these pajamas. I am not sure when I brushed my hair last, but it doesn’t have huge knots so that’s a plus. It’s not always this bad, but sometimes it just is.
One day my kids had been peppering me with reminders and requests all day long, while I was trying to finish teaching them and get work done on a tight deadline, before I had to drive them to the dance studio, work out and then make dinner, before I got back home to work on my deadline, only to go back and pick them up at the studio, feed them and then get us all to bed. Yeah some days are like that.
“Mom, I have Scouts camp this weekend.”
“Mom, you forgot to order my new phone case.”
“Mom, don’t forget my dance team extra practice tomorrow.”
“Mom. Mom. Mom. Mom!!!!!”
I’m not going to lie. I had a bit of a meltdown. There were tears. There was ugly crying. Now we are not running out to the dance studio, the sports practices, the games or the classes because of the COVID -19 coronavirus shutdowns, but there are serious demands on our time, juggling working at home and teaching our children, feeling isolated and and not having in person community support. Let alone the fact, we STILL cannot find enough toilet paper!!
I felt bad, but then my kids stepped it up to comfort their crying mother. All they did was ask to get their needs met. They hugged me. THEY helped ME figure out a better system than constant peppering with reminders and we got through it TOGETHER.
Here are my tips for Taming the Scheduling Chaos:
EMBRACE THE CHAOS:
Yeah, it's gonna be nuts some days! Embrace the fact that it is not easy to schedule teaching your children and doing your job. Expect each day to come with challenges. Let go of rigidity and desires for your day to look a certain way. I guarantee, it rarely will look the way you envisioned it.
Keep a sense of humor and try to laugh when it just gets too ridiculous. It WILL get ridiculous.
Expect that you’ll be ready to teach a lesson and the book will be missing because your older child was reading it in his room and it got buried under his blankets. Great job for reading son! Now stop losing the school books!
Expect that someone will need to use the bathroom and take forever, so the rest of you will be sitting there waiting. Answer a few emails while you wait.
Expect that school and engaged learning will take over the house and enjoy it! The blanket fort days are short. The nerf gun battles in the backyard days are gone for me now. The days when the dollies and stuffies also cuddle up to listen to mama read a book are fleeting. Let the house be a mess of learning, excitement and wonder. You can clean it up later when they are teens and no longer want to build blanket forts with you. Gosh that made me cry typing that. That day will come my friends.
TEAMWORK: Get the kids involved
Even if you have small children, they will surprise you if you include them in their learning and scheduling the day. Have frequent family planning meetings where you go over what needs to be done and then let the kids get involved in figuring out how to get it done. Give them ownership of tasks. Be honest and real with them about how hard it is to work and do school together. Ask them how they can help you make the day go smoothly.
EVERYDAY WILL LOOK DIFFERENT
Let go of the every day is the same, daily rigid schedule mindset. It ain't happening folks.
Let the needs of the day guide how you schedule. Some days, you’ll focus more on schooling the kids. Some days, you’ll have a work deadline and school will be less of the focus. Sometimes the kids will have more independent work and other times, you’ll have to do more direct instruction. Allow your schedule to vary day to day so that you are not swimming up stream and fighting a current that you cannot control. Lower your frustration level by having a mental shift about what a schedule is supposed to look like.
A schedule is supposed to look like you not losing your mind trying to complete it!
LET YOUR KIDS SLEEP IN:
If your children will sleep in, let them. There is no universal, magical law that says children must start school at 8 a.m. You can get up early and front load your work day. Wake the kids up later, and then do the school work.
Imagine you all alone with a hot cup of coffee. Take it! Let them sleep in.
Middle and high school students, especially, benefit from sleeping in. Read more tips for crisis schooling your older children in my article "Crisis Schooling” Your Middle and High Schoolers During the COVID -19 Coronavirus Shut Down
MULTI TASK YOUR SCHOOLING:
Do not teach every subject separately to every child based on their grade level. Grade levels are an arbitrary system made up to be able to push large numbers of children through the school system efficiently. Every classroom of same age students always has children with various ability levels for every subject because… humans. Human beings all develop at different rates, have different interests and differing motivation.
Use literature based learning and thematic learning to teach multiple ages of students at once. Then differentiate the projects or responses to the literature based on their ages.
Learn how to do that in my article about literature based learning using the classics that inspired Walt Disney to make his movies and create Disneyland! This is an ENTIRE YEAR of FREE curriculum in one blog post. Disney Inspired Literature Based Thematic Learning!
LESS IS MORE SCHOOLING
The schools are making kids gobble facts until they are nauseous and drilling information into our students' heads, cramming their brains for tests that, in my opinion, have little to no educational value. In the past decade, the soul has been sucked out of education in many of our schools. Believe me, a lot of teachers are as frustrated as you are about this.
Those of us who have chosen to homeschool, did so because we don’t want what the schools are offering. We want deeper, higher quality, no busy work, engaged learners, kids who love to learn, empowered children and intellectual curiosity at its finest!
There is no need for busy work at home! Read, read, read, read, and do more reading! Write. Draw. Do a few math problems so you know they understand. Create. Make art. Leave projects open ended. Let kids use their creativity to show you what they learned. You’ll find that school gets done quickly and at times, your children will keep learning on their own because they are engaged and excited about learning.
Do less. Make it high quality. School does not need to take all day.
VARY INDEPENDENT WORK WITH DIRECT INSTRUCTION
Use technology! I know… screen time… bad for kids… studies… articles you saw in your mom’s group on Facebook. In an ideal world we limit screen time, but during the COVID -19 world pandemic and crisis schooling, use educational technology!
I am a huge fan of the Skybrary! Actors read the books to your children. There is a search function for parents to choose books by subjects. They are real published books and many of the books in the Skybrary are award winning. If your kids sit there on the Skybrary the entire morning while you get some work, done, they will have learned!
Use educational videos. Yes we want to be careful about screen time, but we are also living through a pandemic.
Let them draw or build with Lego while they listen to an audio book. It's "Lego," not "Legos," by the way. A little geek fun fact for you. This has been hotly debated.
Give your children independent work while you need to get things done, and then do direct instruction at intervals so you can hop back and forth between school and your job.
THE POST IT NOTES SCHEDULE
Instead of making a linear schedule, list the things you need to accomplish on Post It notes. Add them to a large sheet of paper or stick them on the front of the refrigerator. Move them around. Throw the ones away that you realize aren’t really that important. Save them for the next day if it can wait.
When a task is done, reward yourself by crumpling the Post It notes and putting them in a Success Jar. The kids will love filling up that jar with Post Its after the family accomplishes tasks.
You can also add the Post It notes to a binder or a calendar. You’ll have a visual representation of how much you actually did accomplish and you won’t focus so much on what did not get done.
TRACK WHAT YOU DID AFTER YOU DID IT
Keep a planner or a binder where you write down what you did. When you think you haven't done enough, when you feel like a failure, look at that planner and remind yourself that YES, you DID!
LET THEM SEE YOU CRY
This is just hard and parents… YOU ARE HUMAN. It’s okay to feel broken and let their little arms comfort you. You are all in this together with your family!
If you did not homeschool before, your learning curve feels like skiing down Mt. Everest right now.
If you did homeschool before, this crisis schooling is NOT what you normally do, not even remotely. Your life has been upended and you are missing your tight knit community.
It’s okay to cry. It’s okay to tell the kids, “I just can’t right now.” It's okay to rally together as a family and do what you can. Let go of what you can't.
Read my article about schools being close the rest of the year for more inspiration California Schools Closed for the Rest of the Year due to COVID -19: Don't Panic!
YOU WILL NOT BREAK THEM, I PROMISE!
I promise you, after 25 years in education, your children's brains will not shut down if you are not doing worksheets! They are going to learn because that is what human beings do! We learn all the time! Your child would actually have to make a monumental effort NOT to learn just by doing life, because human children will learn. They just do.
-Quote from an article by me, Heather Anne California Schools Closed for the Rest of the Year due to COVID -19: Don't Panic!
You are NOT FAILING by honoring your child’s needs right now.
You are NOT FAILING by honoring your own needs right now.
Self care is wisdom not folly!
Resting is NOT being lazy!
It is okay for them and you to say, “Today, I just can’t.”
It is okay to go for the maximum cozy and comfort yourselves.
It is okay to let go of all of that busy-ness and just stop for a minute.
It's okay for school not to look like school.
It’s okay to just sit with the not knowing and be uncertain.
Blessings on this wild ride we are all taking together.
-Quote from article by me, Heather Anne “Crisis Schooling” Your Middle and High Schoolers During the COVID -19 Coronavirus Shut Down
Many blessings to you during this crazy, wild ride!
This article is ©2020 Heather Anne at Heather Anne Art and Soul. All rights reserved. See my copyright notice here.
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