Episode 77: I’m a Homeschool Mom Now…How I’m Surviving

Memories in Moments

March 17, 2020

Many of you may not know, but I was a teacher for years! I have a Masters in Education and am National Board certified in early literacy. But…that doesn’t mean I want to homeschool my kids. In this episode, I’m helping you create your plan and new schedule/routine, giving ideas for my favorite educational activities that don’t involve screens, and some self care tips to ensure you’re taking care of yourself as well! We got this, mamas. I believe in us! 

Listen below or head on over to iTunesSpotify, or Stitcher!

So We’re All Homeschool Moms, Now! Cheers!

Okay, this is a really overwhelming time. We don’t know what we’re doing because nothing like this has ever happened before and we’re scrambling to get some sort of control on the situation. For many of us, the thought of being locked in our homes for 6+ weeks with our kids is a nightmare…for some that sounds like a dream.

Which one are you??

The Carter Crew is a routine family. We like adventure and downtime for sure, but at the core of our day, we thrive on structure and routine. It’s just necessary for the well being of my family, especially with me running a business and my husband working.

Now we’ve had to navigate being two working from home parents, while homeschooling, while also trying to keep anxiety at bay about our country’s health and economic future. It’s scary and I’m not going to lie and tell you I haven’t massively spiraled in terms of my anxiety the last couple weeks. The lack of control, the unknowns up in the air, feeling like I have to do it all- all big time triggers for me.

So in order to be healthy and show up for myself and my kids, I spent all of last week, when my district was the only one homeschooling, and really mapped out what our plan was going to be like and trail and errored a couple ideas!

Some of you may not know, but I was a teacher for years before I decided to stay home with Evie. I have a Masters in Education and my National Boards in Early Literacy. I know I can and am very capable of teaching my kids…do I want to, no, but we’re going to make the best out of it and I’m going to use that background and the thousands of dollars I paid and no longer use to help my family and YOU!

Today’s show is sharing every single piece of advice I have for you when it comes to surviving (and hopefully thriving a bit) these next couple weeks.

I’m going to be talking about implementing a routine and plan, some of my favorite educational activities that I’ve done that don’t involve all learning on the iPad, and some self care tips that just need to happen.

Disclaimer

Please know that this is all stuff that works for ME and my family. This is not me telling you what you should be doing…this is me sharing what we’re doing and what has worked or what I’m hoping will work as I get farther into this journey. So please take inspiration for these ideas, make them your own and do what works for you. If one thing sounds great, do one thing, if you want to implement my exact schedule in your homes, do that.

I want to create resources that benefit you and that you will actually use, so if you’re overwhelmed and have zero desire to do any homeschooling this week, then thats great. Don’t feel bad or judged, just skip ahead to the self care part of the episode instead! 😉

Your Homeschooling Plan and Schedule

Just like approaching any party or holiday, we need a plan. You’ve heard me say a million times that the key to hosting a stress-free party is going in with a crystal clear plan. This is how I’m approaching forced homeschooling as well.

I know for myself, the only way for me to get through this in a way that’s beneficial for my emotional health, is to have a plan. For me that means a schedule. For you, that may mean a checklist or even drawing things to do out of a hat. 

So what am I included in this plan?

For me, it’s a daily schedule, closely mirroring Evie’s kindergarten schedule. It gives us accountability, it gives me my answer when they ask what we’re doing that day, and it gives my kids (and myself to be honest) stability.

Kids crave routine. It’s not a surprise that kids are usually the worst behaved when things are a free for all. That up in the air schedule is hard for a lot of kids- this is 100% my kids. 

Identify Your Must-Haves

When you’re building your schedule, think of your must haves. Again, this is something I do before planning any party or celebration. What are the must haves?

For me when it comes to parties it’s unique decor- a spin I haven’t seen before, photos that I didn’t take myself, alcohol, and outsourced baked goods. At basically every party of mine- you will see those must haves.

So I thought, what are my must haves when it comes to homeschooling? For us, it’s reading, writing, and free choice time.

Now you’re probably thinking what about math, science, art, etc. Yes. I have those in my schedule too BUT we are living in a stressful time. If one day we decide to have a movie day or we go play outside for longer than intended or go for a walk, I’m not going to beat myself up for not doing my full schedule.

This way I can ensure that every day there will be reading, writing and free choice time. Will most everyday also include math, science, social studies, art, etc. yes for sure. 

I have my whole schedule and everything I am planning to do each day, including my favorite resources I continue to find in a Google doc that I’m adding to. No email necessary or anything, just a link to click below to grab it!

GET MY GOOGLE DOC DAILY SCHEDULE, LESSONS PLANS AND FAVORITE RESOURCES

My Daily Schedule

8:45 Breakfast Invitation (head on over to Days with Grey for a huge list of these, but basically they’re little no prep activities that greet your kids to start the day getting them thinking and using their hands)

9:00 Readers Workshop– read aloud, a little lesson, Evie reads in her just right books, I read with her, I read to Hudson when she’s reading independently, we listen to an audio book, etc., 

10:00 PE with Tyler

10:30 Snack and Word Work/Phonics

11:00 Math Workshop (a little lesson or activity, maybe a worksheet, games on the iPad, math games we have, etc.)

11:45 Clean Up, Lunch, Recess (outside time)

1:00 Writers Workshop (journal writing, prompts, how tos, book report, gratitude journal)

1:30 Science/Art/Social Studies

2:00 Free Choice Time (this is when I am working- I am also working when they are doing lunch/recess)

3:30 Done for the Day!– family time…probably watching a show because we made it another day 😉

For some of you that may be intense, for some of you, it’s exactly what you need, so like I said, take what you like, and leave the rest!

Daily Checklist

Some other ideas is taking your must haves and making a checklist. For those that don’t like the time commitments, write your must haves say (reading, writing, math, free choice, and extra) on a list and check them off as you go throughout your day.

A little less structured, but still ensures you’re getting what you want done!  The other idea is taking your must haves and writing them on strips of paper and putting them in a bowl or hat. When you’re ready for your next transition or chunk of time for your day, kids can take turns drawing out of the hat. So maybe you start the day with math and then your kid draws writing and that’s next. Keeps everyday a little different, but again, keeps you doing what you want to be doing!

Juggling Homeschool with Working at Home

The million dollar question…can you tell me the answer when you find it?!

We are still honing our routine, but we’ve decided to switch off chunks during the day.

You may have heard me talk about Fringe Hours on the podcast before. This is the little chunks of time that often go wasted throughout the day where you could be getting stuff done. When the kids are doing their breakfast invitation, I can be responding to emails or finalizing my tasks for the day. When they are eating lunch, my phone is away, and I’m working. When they are done for the day, my husband is usually also done which means I tag out till dinner and he takes over.

Ryan is also making his schedule more heavy on Mondays/Wednesdays, giving me more of Tuesday/Thursdays to get my work done. I swear we are talking about schedules and time multiple times throughout the day. So if you haven’t had those conversations with your partner yet, I’d encourage you to do so. 

You didn’t sign up the homeschool these kids (well some of you did and let’s just say we now worship the ground you walk on, but most of us didn’t. As a family, you decided to send them to school, so now as a family, you get to figure out what this new routine looks like.

If reading happens after normal “work hours” but it means you get some time and your partner can involve themselves in this process, then do what works for you. This may be a situation where the time schedule isn’t for you- and checklist works better! But please don’t feel like this is all on you, and also make sure that you are involving your partner.

We can easily fall into the trap of doing everything ourselves because it’s easier, but nothing about this is easy.

Ask for help, tell them what you need them to do, they are fully capable of teaching/doing activities with your kids, and split the workload.

Going down a road of resentment for you having to take all this on yourselves is not going to be healthy or beneficial for ANYONE…especially if you have to be locked in a house together for the unforeseeable future!

Easy Educational Activities

So lots of us have most likely gotten resources from our schools that are heavily online.

Different apps, websites, free resources that are on a screen. I love me some screen time and fully understand that all bets are off when it comes to screen time during this situation…BUT there are SO many things you can do with your kids that are educational that don’t involve screens…or a ton of prep!

We will definitely still be doing some phonics and math on iPads that we’re given as a resource from our school, but the majority of our time will be activities and other hands on learning stuff, making them think it’s a game. 

Easy Screen-Free Literacy Activities

Reading is #1 priority.

If you don’t do anything at all during this time at home, please read. Read to your kids, but also have your kids read to themselves or you.

They need to be practicing their own skills as readers. Reading to their siblings, stuffed animals, or even FaceTiming with a relative to read a just right book. All great ideas! You can also listen to an audiobook (mysteries are great to follow along and discuss!) and talk about what you’re listening to- make predictions on what will happen next, talk about how you connect with your character, etc.

Online resources if you don’t have books at home: Storyline Online (celebrities read books to kids) and RAZ Kids (your school most likely has a subscription to this).

For non readers- letters, letters, letters.

This is the perfect time to have them nail letters and sounds! Google Zoophonics and print off the letter coloring sheets, watch the YouTube videos on the sounds/motions and start immersing them in letters.

Kids can make letters out of play dough, Wiki Sticks, write them in sand, match letters with sticky notes, match letters. So many ideas!

Lots of ideas are inside the Easter Celebration Guide that comes with the Easter Unwrapped box also!

All of these letter ideas can also be done with sight words. Write sight words on notecards or sticky notes, make a bunny trail with them on the floor, and kids hop like a bunny to each word as they read it. Build sight words out of letters (play dough, magnet, or just pieces of paper), write sight words in the air, on their body, on the floor, on the wall- all with your finger as they say them aloud.

Writing

This is the time to just give them a journal. You can give them prompts, a girlfriend of mine found the visual below thats a daily drawing prompt but I’m using it as a writing/drawing prompt challenge.

I am also starting a gratitude journal during this time and at the end of our school day we write Today I am Grateful for…and she fills in the blank with two things. Hudson says his out loud.

Math

Lots of easy math activities to do at home!

Money or time telling is a great one to learn while you’re home!

Also, Easter Egg math hunts- one half of the eggs have an equation, the other half as the answer. They need to hunt and put them together.

You can throw a ball back and forth saying equations and math facts- so 5+5, throw the ball, they answer and give you an equation, you catch and answer and they give one back.

Write math facts on popsicle sticks and pull from a plastic cup.

Number matches- sticky notes with the number on them matched with another sticky with the number represented in dots or as a picture. Get them up, moving, using their hands.

Science

Grow a garden- chives are crazy easy, seed bombs, Mystery Doug, get butterflies on Amazon, google or Pinterest easy science experiments using household objects, get your kids outside for a nature scavenger hunt, give them a pad of paper and have them do etching of leaves, do a drawing of something they see and label it, or choose something to watch as the season change. Pick a tree or plant in your yard and make an observation about it a couple times a week. Are buds forming? Bulbs poking up? Anything flowering? Not really science, but learning to tie shoes is another skill that’ll be good to learn when you have the time in these weeks!

Memories in Moments: Unwrapped Subscription Box

Not activities, but equally important is pulling out new things when we’re really desperate. Orders for the Easter Memories in Moments: Unwrapped box are officially open this week and they are going to be headed your way the first week of April…exactly when you and the kids are going to be absolutely desperate for something new.

Crafts, activities, memory makers, and more…all fun things to look forward to, all planned, prepped and done for you.

Total easy win and when you order today, your digital Celebration Guide downloads immediately with lots of ideas for educational activities, games, traditions and more to do in this time together.

It also comes with printable Easter Egg Hunts, one a letter hunt so you can do all those literacy activities I just talked about, a coupon hunt and a scavenger hunt to get them up and moving and engaged in a new activity! Grab your box here!

April’s Easter Memories in Moments: Unwrapped Box!

Self Care Tips

You have to be mindful of yourself right now.

No one is telling you to be giving your kids attention 24/7. Literally impossible and zero chance you’ll be able to sustain that level of attention. Give yourself grace in setting realistic expectations on what this is going to look like. Quiet time is good for them!

Some days we are going to rock it, some days we are going to be crying while eating whatever we can find at the bottom of the freezer. Both are okay.

Be Mindful of the Media You’re Consuming

First, be insanely obsessive about what you’re consuming.

Ryan had to sit me down and be really honest with me about my level of anxiety and how it was stemming from the amount of media and mismatched stories I was reading. Are young people affected? When do you go to the hospital? What’s going to happen to the economy. Spiral spiral spiral. I basically convinced myself I was sick and I didn’t even feel sick. SO no more of that.

Now I ask direct sources, like my friend that is a nurse at our hospital, when I have questions. And I can follow directions and stay inside to keep my family and I safe, but also those around that are higher risk.

Staying inside and controlling my media consumption are two things I can control so it makes me feel calmer to do that. So find something you can control and run with it!

Take One Night a Week “Off”

I’ve talked about this on the show before, and it was inspired by my friend Aleks when she was on the podcast, but my husband and I each have a night of the week where we go out and do whatever we want.

Usually that means I go work on my night, and Ryan goes to play soccer on his. However, we aren’t leaving our house right now, but we are still following the routine of having nights “off” I can’t tell you how freeing it is NOT to do bedtime once a week.

I encourage you to find a night. Choose a night where you either just drive around to get out of the house, or hide somewhere. Take a bath, watch trash tv, catch up on work or an online course, FaceTime a friend, do an at home work out, literally do whatever you want. When it’s my night, I’m making myself a fast dinner around 5, taking it upstairs, and closing myself off till the kids are asleep. My husband has been doing the same and is working out or catching up on work.

Just knowing we have some guaranteed alone time is really nice to have in the back of our head. 

Tackle Your Fun To-Do List

Find something you’ve been meaning to do and make doing it a prioirty during this time. Finally read that book you’ve been meaning to read.

Modeling reading is super important for early readers, so when your little is reading, cozy up next to them and read your own book! It’s super important for them to see you modeling those habits!

Finally sit down and complete that online course, or finish that craft project, clean that closet out.

Find 1-2 things you’ve been meaning or wanting to do..and just do the dang thing. You just got a whole lotta time handed to you, so take advantage!

Set a Realistic Bar

We’ve all seen the posts out there that this is our time to enjoy our kids and family time. To soak them up, build forts, have movie nights, bake, etc. And yes, I agree with that. There will definitely be moments of awesome family time that I know we will look back on and cherish.

But for many of us, our lives didn’t stop because of this virus. We are still working remotely, still running businesses, still have things we need to get done, and our kids still need some sort of structure and routine to their lives.

No one needs kids to just be out of school till summer break with no accountability. Disaster. So as much as we are going to be connecting as a family, we are also going to be trying to bring a sense of normalcy to this situation for all of us, and I think that’s equally important.

I wish you the best of luck as we navigate these next couple weeks. I have complete faith in you and your ability to get through this and come out stronger on the other side!

Next Steps

Moving forward, make sure you’re following along on Instagram! I’m doing a Tuesday Teacher Tip every week on IGTV where I’m uploading an activity, or a mini lesson to actually show your kids and I’ll teach to give you something new and different to try each week! Thursdays will be all about sharing my favorite resources found and used during that week! So lots of fun resources happening over on the gram. Follow at @allisoncartercelebrates!

And LAST, if you found ANY of this helpful. Like even one little nugget that you are going to take a try, will you please please please share a screenshot of this episode playing on your phone on your social?

Tag me so I can see and thank you! Or use that little share button your app to send to a post or text to a friend. I’d love if you shared with your mom friends who are also a little stressed about this all so they can benefit and know that help is available!

Thank you in advance for being such a great tribe member! 

Always know that I am here to chat! Comment below or send me an email on my contact form and I will be happy to chat more or answer any questions you may have!

CONNECT WITH ME, ALLISON!

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Coronavirus has forced me to homeschool. On this podcast, I'm sharing my homeschooling schedule, routine, educational activity ideas and self care tips.

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