Creating Structure and Routine
While the academic content during your *surprise!* homeschool will most likely come from your child's school, it is still important for parents to help create structure to their children's work. Helping kids become organized and self sufficient is also essential to protecting work hours for adults who suddenly find themselves without adequate daycare.
What has worked well for us is dividing the day into segments, and then having a checklist of items to get done during each portion of the day, in whatever order they want. This schedule can be printed out for each child to then cross off items as they go. In my personal version, I notate next to each line if there is specific work they need to complete from their teacher (or from me), and I include any links they need for the day. I then share the file with them digitally, giving them ‘suggestion’ access on Google Docs. This allows them to delete each item as they go, and I can see the strikethroughs on my screen as they finish each task.
If you are home with younger kids who are not yet fluent readers, the same type of schedule can be used to help them be self sufficient — simply replace the words with pictures and create a ‘visual schedule.’
It is also helpful to organize in other ways. I have many different lists posted around the kitchen: options for recess/PE activities, family activities, personal project ideas, a chores chart, and a menu. This document has samples of many of my lists, including a list of online learning resources you can share with your children.
Add time into the schedule when you, as a parent, are ‘unavailable.’ I use that time for some peaceful and focused work of my own, as well as to get my own daily exercise. I tell the kids to ask each other for help during those hours, and to write down questions they have if they get stuck. They are then expected to switch to another topic until I am free to answer their question.
Don’t be afraid to throw the schedule to the wind and plop the kids down for a movie here and there. You are doing your best, and your best does NOT need to be perfect! Chances are the kids need to unwind as much as you do.
For those who would appreciate more guidance, I have written an entire guide for starting up your own homeschool, with many tips on how to get organized and help kids become self sufficient, while maintaining positivity and some level of calm in the house.