By now just about every parent has seen the color-coded schedules floating around the Internet, even when they are edited with sarcastic comments like “hand kids iPad” and “break up the second sibling fight of the day.” You’ve probably even seen posts from seasoned home-schoolers who are telling you to simply RELAX on the teaching front and just simply BE with your kids. Well, I tried a little bit of both this week and ended up frustrated and determined to come up with a plan that allow parents to work from home and for kids to keep busy and happy. My solution? Approaching your family’s time together as a “camp” instead of school and utilizing flexible block scheduling. This Camp Covid Block Schedule for Working Parents has been a game changer for our family and I have a feeling it can help your family during these troubling times, too.
This post contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase through one of these links, I will earn a small commission at no additional cost to you.
WHY CALL IT A CAMP?
As many parents are now discovering, teachers work HARD. Keeping an entire classroom of learners with different interests and abilities engaged is incredibly challenging, and parents should not feel like they need to be responsible to maintain this type of academic rigor at home. I prefer to ditch the term “school” and use “camp” instead because this time together should be more like summer camp—creative, hands-on learning that is fun and fulfilling. Now I’m not saying that academics should be ignored. Instead, I am encouraging a Camp Covid that integrates different scheduled activities that don’t simply focus on school skills.
WHAT IS A BLOCK SCHEDULE?
A block schedule is a schedule with interchangeable blocks of time that you can move around to fit a student’s needs. Instead of following a rigid schedule, the block schedule option allows flexibility and student choice. In this unique time of home quarantine, parent choice can and should also have a voice in creating the Camp Covid Schedule for situations when parents have an important conference call or other important work-related task. By using blocks of varied times (30,60,90 minutes), students are encouraged to truly focus and invest in the experience at hand for an appropriate amount of time.
HOW CAN PARENTS PREPARE?
REAL TALK: If you want your family’s Camp Covid Block Schedule to go well, you are going to have to put some work in the night before. But don’t worry, it will only take 30 minutes max (maybe up to an hour if wine is involved) and it will be SO WORTH IT because you will actually be able to accomplish work while your kids are busy and engaged.
Take advantage of dinnertime as an opportunity for your family to talk about and plan for the next day. Kids can share what type of activities they are interested in doing (painting, Lego building, Facetime with a friend, etc.) and parents can share specific times they need to hunker down and focus on work. Then, working together, you can create your day by filling it with 30, 60, and 90-minute-long activities. Pro tip: Use color-coded post-it notes to write down different activities to map out your day and give everyone a visual schedule to check throughout the day. Then reuse the post-it notes for other activities throughout the week.
The night before:
- Read through any E-learning activities sent from school and print any worksheets or materials that you can.
- Quickly browse through learning websites to determine which would be the best fit for your child. My top picks: Brain Pop Junior, Pebble Go, Freckle, Kids A-Z, Scholastic Learn at Home, Starfall, ABC Mouse, Prodigy, Reading Eggs
- Check the Camp Covid Block Schedule and prepare for any activities that were chosen for the day. For example, put out a tray with paper plates, googly eyes, markers, and glue to create sometime during “Art Time”, research a quick science experiment like these for “Experimenting Time,” text another parent to set up a FaceTime playdate, or find a great kid-friendly podcast episode.
- Prepare your own work schedule and be sure that you have set aside enough time to accomplish your “must-do’s”.
WHAT IF THE COVID CAMP BLOCK SCHEDULE ISN’T WORKING?
First off, take a breath. No day will be perfect. Even if you are like me and have a decade’s worth of teaching experience and ALL THE EDUCATION DEGREES. If something isn’t working, swap it out of the Covid Camp Block Schedule and bring something else in. I created these activities based on school-aged kiddos, but there will be differences in interests, abilities, and attention spans. And that is OKAY. Move things around to best suit your family. There is no right or wrong answer.
If you find that an activity isn’t filling up the allotted amount of time, switch the activity to a shorter category. If an activity is too difficult for your child to complete independently, take it off the list. Are things becoming too mundane? Then add new activity options or take some favorite options off the “choice board” for a bit in order to spice things up. The options are endless.
You’ve Got This!
Don’t miss a post…follow me on Blog Lovin’.