Coronavirus Blog #3: I Just Became a Teacher

I’m not a teacher. I’ve always thought a bit about homeschooling my kids, but I’ve never been in a position to do it.

Until today.

It’s March 16, 2020, and due to the corona virus, all the schools in my state are closed until the end of March. There are definitely hints that the shutdown will last longer than a few weeks, but nothing concrete so far.

And with that in mind, I just became a homeschool parent.

I don’t have a lot of resources put together, I don’t even own a printer at my house.

Setting Up My Corona Virus Homeschool Curriculum (kindergarten and first grade)

The first thing I did to get myself (and my anxiety) under control is to make a plan. I figure, I’ll be likely to have more success with this homeschooling business if I am organized, and I have some concrete goals.

Thus, after brainstorming, here are my goals:

  1. Keep the kids on track with where they were in school when school closed
  2. But only in the main subjects that I worry about for them, specifically reading, writing, and math
  3. To keep the “homeschool” fun, without it harming our home life or relationships
  4. To maintain a schedule to give the kids some stability

To that end, here is the schedule I devised, which I wrote out on a sheet of paper with a marker and taped to the fridge:

Homeschool Daily Schedule

Hours of Operation (9:00am-1:00pm)

  1. 15-30 minutes of reading/writing/spelling words (sight words, Fry 100, Dolch words, first/second grade spellling list, journaling)
  2. 15-30 minutes math (worksheets, iPad app, theory, math activities)
  3. 15-30 minutes reading aloud
  4. Choice activity/Pick One From this List: music lesson, art, science experiments, gardening, chores, cooking, building
  5. 60 minutes of “recess”/free play time, outside if weather permits.

And that’s it. I am going to test out the schedule, but I think this is pretty much what we are going to do. I’ve got 60 minutes worth of play mixed into the schedule, so that we can break up the blocks of math, reading, and other work.

I’ve also got a stop and start time to keep up on track, but without hard stop and start times to give us freedom to spend more time on some projects or less, depending. I want them to be able to do the tasks in whatever order they feel like, and understand that when the checklist is done, they are free to play the rest of the day.

I also want to work in free play and outside time to keep things fresh and to keep the kids moving. The last thing I want the kids to do with “homeschool” is to have them sitting inside all day long. After all, this isn’t real school. I’ve always hated the fact that kids sit so much in school and are so restricted.

I also plan to take this homeschool show on the road, and once the kids understand the “schedule” and the tasks at hand, that we can do our homework at the park or while hiking, just stopping to take a break to do the math or the reading or explore other aspects of our “school” time.

Where are you “teaching” your kids?

For now, I am using the kitchen table. I haven’t created a specific teaching or learning space for the kids, and I doubt that I will. Eventually, like I said above, I’d like to do “school” wherever we are, even if it means doing it in the car on the way to someplace awesome.

What are you using to develop your curriculum?

Well, first and foremost, I am looking back at what the teachers were doing with my kids before the shut down. I am looking at where they left off on reading, writing, and math, since that is what is focused on mostly for the kids at the kinder and first grade levels.

I have been in their classes a lot and I’ve seen a lot of the worksheets they do.

I’ve tried creating some of my own worksheets, and I’m also scouring the internet (such as the Common Core website) for specific topics to teach.

I’ve downloaded the Fry first 1000 words, and I’m making flashcards out of paper and markers (nothing special).

I managed to get into the library before it closed and carried out about 50 books (they let me have them surprisingly) to practice reading, and also to learn about science and history.

What about apps and things?

Yes, there are tons of apps and videos and electronic resources. I’m honestly not terribly interested in them, because I am pretty much screen free for my kids at home. I know they do screens at school a lot (I wish they did less) but that’s how it is.

I’m not going to do apps for this short term break from school, though if I do, it will for “fun” and not be a part of the regular curriculum. If they want to spend their free time working on math apps, I’ll let them do a bit. So long as they otherwise spend the rest of their time outside.

Now that I think about it….I do have TWO computers. Three actually, with my laptop. I could avoid major drama with the boys by putting them each on a computer to do some sort of typing, reading, or other math game.

Remember the purpose of your “homeschool”

Whenever I get too deep into my planning, or anxious about it not being good enough, I go back to my purpose.

I’m not here to take care of my entire children’s schooling and education. Instead, I am filling in gaps. I am keeping their minds up to speed.

I don’t have to cover everything.

In fact, I have to internalize the fact that the kids are going to get caught up and be on track next year no matter what I do, good or bad.

So I shouldn’t worry too much.

I think it is most important that my kids’ reading skills stay up to par or improve in the next weeks (or even months if it comes to that). So we’ll focus on that.

If the math doesn’t work out….oh well. As long as the kids are reading well when they hit their next grades, I will be able to pat myself on the back.

An opportunity

I am looking at this time as an opportunity. A chance to connect with my children. To see them more than usual. To let them have experiences they wouldn’t get a chance to have if they were in school. To do experiments that the teacher doesn’t have the time to do. To take them outside and show them the world outside of the classroom.

Are you in the position of having to start teaching your kids at home? What are your challenges? Let us know more in the comments section below.