10 Tips for Surviving Homeschool with School Closures

Like many of you my kids school is closed now. Our school was closed for five weeks due to the coronavirus. The first day was crazy as I tried to make sense of the new situation. I quickly learned what worked and what did not. Join me as I share with you the great resources and lessons I learned in my first week of homeschooling because of COVID-19. Here are my tips from our "homeschool". I do not know how long it will last, but being able to provide my kids some sense of normalcy has been great!

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My kids are 1st and 3rd grade. These tips can be adapted to any age. If you have questions let me know below. Before I list the tips I have found in my first week I want to address all the many many free resources out there. I am sooooo grateful for all the companies that have opened their apps and curriculum. It has been a tremendous blessing.

1. Pick a routine and make sure to include recess.
I have since learned that elementary kids do not need 7 hours of homeschool. My kids were gone for 7 hours a day, that does not mean I need to do 7 hours of homeschool. Home schooling parents recommend 1-3 hours for elementary. I wonder if they mean instruction.

Here's our schedule (for now):

-Wake up and eat
-Morning meeting
-Lesson from an elective
-Math time/ST Math App-I switch off with the kids. One does the app by themselves and I do instruction for math
-Lesson from an elective
-Spelling/Reading Comprehension/Phonics-Comprehension for the older and phonics for the younger. Spelling for both. I switch off with the kids.
-Chore time-I set a timer for 15-30 minutes
-Lunch time-an hour
-Done for the day!

2. Be flexible
I have a feeling this will change from day to day. Your kids may sleep in or be extra anxious. Go with their lead.

3. See what resources the school has to offer.
My school has a portal we can log into. I was surprised to find their math books. We have lessons from their math books and I can print off math worksheets. This saves me tons of time because I do not have to find where they are at and set up a curriculum for them. The school also has access to a lot of educational electives.

4. Pick some fun electives.
We picked some fun electives to learn about as a family. We all do this and then can do an art project or science project based on what we are learning. My kids choose Renaissance Art, Africa, Astronomy and Music.

5. Take days off.
My sons birthday was this week. The school would have had Friday off. We took his birthday off instead. He got to play all day and not worry about school. We made a cake together and he got play with his presents all day.

6. Send notes and pictures to teachers. 
My school has an app to connect with the teachers. My kids have sent them notes and pictures. Our teachers are still working and will send work home shortly to work on at home.

7. Use Apps Wisely
Not all apps are created equal. I like to look at it like on a spectrum. The super serious ones to the super fun ones. The kids do not always like the dry apps or resources, but the super fun ones are not always super educational. I like the ones that tend to the serious side, but are still fun for the kiddos. ST Math, Coding and ReadingIQ are some of my favorite apps for kiddos and here is why.

ST Math-ST Math is a visual program "that leverages the brain's innate spatial-temporal reasoning ability to solve mathematical problems." It uses visual puzzles to teach mathematical concepts. It is usually only available for schools, but it was made available during this school closure.

Tynker Coding-I am super excited for my kids to start this app. They are offering some premium coding courses during the school closures. This app offers all levels and there is no way to differentiate for now. If the kids are small make sure they are not watching python videos...my son was...I could tell he had no idea. We switched to the Hot Wheels course and he did much better!

Readingiq-Reading IQ is pretty simple. It accesses the readers level and from there it provides books in that level for the kids to read. I like that I can change the level too. My son was assessed at a higher level, but I was able to make his guided reading level a little lower. When he is good with that level I will move him up. My kids like there is a weekly leaderboard where they can see where they are at compared to others. I have not decided if I like that feature yet.

8. Take Advantage of all the Web Resources
Here are some of the best web resources I found to help with our time away from school. 

Cincinnati Zoo facebook zoo chats.

Save with Stories Jennifer Garner and Amy Adams started this account and invite celebrities to read books to children. 

9. Divide and Conquer
It can be hard to teach multiple kids at different levels . A few weeks ago I watched a video from Tic Tac Toy Family about homeschooling. Little did I know I would be using those concepts really quickly. One of my favorite tactics she uses was working with one kid and having the other kid do independent activities. For example I work with one kid on math and then the other kid is doing an educational app or reading a book. Then I switch. This concept has been amazing! It has helped me work with both of them and get the attention they need.

10. Pick some grade level programs and workbooks for the kiddos.
Lucy from Tic Tac Toy Family also uses All About Spelling (affiliate link).  I was considering this for my son because he is having a hard time with spelling tests at school. I contacted them and they sent us the first level to try. I am so excited! We are going to do this during the summer months for review too, because my kids need some help with spelling.

This is the Deluxe Spelling Interactive Kit. It comes with letter tiles, magnets, phonogram sounds app, divider cards, spelling review box, and a spelling tote bag. I will do a complete in depth post review once we have used it for a little while.
Also pick some workbooks from Amazon or other stores or websites. These can be used after the quarantine is over too for enrichment at home.

I hope the schools did not stay closed for a super long time, but if they do we will stick to homeschooling. My kids and I enjoy the routine for now with all this chaos. I hope these resources help. Let me know what you are doing for school in the comments or if you have specific questions about your kiddos.

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