Our family loves the flexibility of homeschooling, as well as the opportunities to make learning creative and fun. Having our kids at home all day is certainly challenging, but it’s a lifestyle that I find ways to easily manage and enjoy. Many homeschool parents come up with schedules and routines that work for their families. Here are some ways I keep our family’s school schedule consistent and engaging!
The recent Coronavirus outbreak and resulting school closures have created many questions for families who are now faced with having kids at home all day, every day. While this is certainly unexpected, there are lots of things your family can do to enjoy this time and continue learning. Below, I share a snapshot of what “school at home” is like for our family, as well as creative activities you can do with kids of all ages.
This year I embraced the challenge of teaching my three kids at home. I have an 7-year-old in 2rd grade, a 5-year-old in kindergarten and a 4-year-old in preschool. My first step for overseeing successful school days was to create a schedule for my kids. A daily schedule is very helpful for our family so that my kids know what to expect throughout the day.
I begin our daily homeschool schedule by reading a Bible story or chapter of Psalms on the couch with my kids. We also sing a few songs. Occasionally my kids share something they brought for Show & Tell. Our homeschool couch time lasts about 30 minutes. After this, my kids go to their individual desks to work in their workbooks.
My kids have different workbooks depending on their grade level, but overall they spend time doing Math, Phonics, Reading and Writing. I often set a timer for each subject, which motivates my kids to do their work intentionally. My 4-year-old son plays independently during this time or works on coloring pages.
In between subjects, my kids often take a 5-10 minute play break. Around 12:30 we have lunch.
The last several years, I’ve used Abeka workbooks to teach my kids Math, Phonics and Reading. The Abeka workbooks are easy to divide up into flexible lessons. I usually assign my kids several pages of Math and Phonics per day. Abeka materials reinforce mastery through the spiral learning technique. Students learn new concepts alongside familiar skills which are repeated throughout the material.
I really like the colorful illustrations and repetition of concepts found on each Abeka workbook page, to keep kids moving forward. Once I’ve assigned which pages to do, my kids can easily pace themselves. The Abeka readers have helped my girls apply their phonics lessons, sound out words and practice reading comprehension.
Reading and Independent Play
In the afternoon, my 4-year-old and 5-year-old play together while I work with my 7-year-old to finish up any of her work. She also spends some time reading independently in the afternoon, and I’ll often do a 15-minute reading lesson with my 2 youngest kids.
Once all my kids finish their workbooks and reading for the day, they can play with Legos or go outside. Often later in the afternoon we do a creative kids activity or science-inspired project.
Resources like these TinkerActive workbooks have lots of great kids projects and hands-on science and math lessons. These books encourage kids to tinker, make and engineer by following step-by-step directions.
Flexible Home Routine
Our simple school schedule works for our family and it’s very flexible. However, it’s mostly important for us to be home in the mornings so we can prioritize getting school done every day. Being intentionally home so much was the biggest change our family experienced with homeschooling.
Now don’t get me wrong, I know all too well the challenges of having kids underfoot all day long. Sometimes my kids don’t want to do their work, or they aren’t feeling well. Some days my kids are feeling just plain ornery.
Sometimes my kids don’t get all of their workbook pages done for that day. I keep in mind that school is also about training kids’ attitudes and developing their work ethic. Overall I’d say homeschooling is a very positive experience for us. I love the hands-on opportunities to teach my kids about so much more than just academics.
Educational Activities for Kids
Even if you are not tackling your kids’ main academic subjects at home, you can still do lots of school-inspired activities with them! These educational activities for kids are easy to set up, get out or make ahead of time.
Interactive Yard Toys
My kids have spent hours playing with their air-powered Stomp Rockets. These outdoor toys are fun to launch and kids get great exercise while running to retrieve the rockets. If you have more than one launch pad, kids can compete to see who can launch their rocket the highest or the farthest. As the weather warms up, Stomp Rockets are a great activity for kids to play with out in the yard.
I-Spy and Look & Find Books
These fun picture books are typically filled with lots of colorful items for kids to discover on every page. I-Spy and Look & Find books are engaging for younger kids who can’t yet read, as well as older kids! Siblings can also look at these books together and challenge each other to find different items.
Our recipe for brightly colored homemade playdough is easy to make and super fun for kids to play with! Kids can help choose their favorite colors to mix into the soft salt dough and even add glitter or confetti. You can mix up this dough in minutes and then sculpt all sorts of creations. Keep your homemade playdough in an air-tight container and it will last a few weeks! See our instructions for how to make the BEST homemade playdough using gel food coloring to create bright colors.
Interactive Activities for Toddlers
Younger kids also love doing creative hands-on activities. Transform an open afternoon into an adventure by giving your child a sensory bin to dig around in. Make finger paint and enjoy an art day, or set up your kids’ favorite wooden toys.
DIY Sensory Bins
Toddlers and preschoolers especially love finding treasures and setting up little scenes in a sensory bin. You can easily create a sensory bin using a cardboard box or clear storage box. Fill the container with a sensory medium such as sand, homemade playdough, dried beans or water beads. Add a variety of miniature creatures, small dolls or matchbox cars. Include “treasures” for kids to find such as silk flowers, foam shapes, acrylic ice rocks, pebbles, pom poms and seashells. If your child is younger than 3 years old, make sure to include age-appropriate items that aren’t choking hazards. Give your child a scoop or a large spoon and send them on an expedition of discovery!
Homemade Finger Paint
Kids who love making a mess will enjoy creating art with homemade finger paint! I usually set my kids up at a controlled work space, give them some of this paint, and let them create away! All you need to make this homemade finger paint is cornstarch, water, flour and food coloring. You can find our full homemade finger paint recipe here.
High Quality Wooden Toys
Finally, high quality wooden toys are a great activity for young kids. My kids love playing with our Hape Toys fire station and our wooden train sets. I especially like wooden toys because they hold up well throughout regular play. Wooden toys are usually great quality and often have beautiful detailing. Instead of adding toy clutter to our home, I like collecting quality toys that inspire my kids to pretend and play independently.
Teaching your kids at home is a special way to enjoy sweet family time and create memories with your kids. I’ve discovered that I can be an effective teacher as well as a creative mom. I just need to enforce a consistent school schedule and add in some fun learning activities. We keep life simple, enjoy one day at a time, and make learning casual and fun!
Hi, I’m Katie! I live with my husband and 3 kids in beautiful Coeur d’Alane, Idaho. I love Jesus, coffee, DIY projects, photography, homeschooling my kids, traveling, and serving people. I’ve previously worked as a graphic designer, web designer, journalist and barista. I started Create. Play. Travel. to share some of our creative projects and family adventures. I hope you enjoy the highlights of our creative family life!