With schools closed, I spent this past week playing catch up on Trenton’s academics. And while we don’t exactly know how long schools will close, we know that our kids will be expected to be ready to enter the classroom next year. In order to make that happen, I think the most important action is sticking to a schedule. Here’s ours. I’ve also included my favorite resources for each time block.
Trenton’s Off-School Schedule
0800-0900: Wake up, clean room, shower, brush teeth
1030-1125: Elective (Art, Outdoor Work/Play, Band, Life Skills, Computer Science)
1130-1225: Cooking Lesson
1330-1425: Foreign Language
1430-1525: History, Social Studies, Government
*Each class gives Trenton five minutes to stretch, run to the bathroom, grab a snack, etc.*
Don’t love this schedule? Trenton either. Khan Academy offers other schedules for school closures here: https://docs.google.com/document/d/e/2PACX-1vSZhOdEPAWjUQpqDkVAlJrFwxxZ9Sa6zGOq0CNRms6Z7DZNq-tQWS3OhuVCUbh_-P-WmksHAzbsrk9d/pub. More about Khan Academy a little later.
How does it all break down?
Trenton’s Off-School Schedule: A Deeper Dive
Read a book for an hour. Now, I think Trenton’s a rockstar. I also know that his reading comprehension needs a hug and a cupcake. Therefore, I usually read whatever he’s supposed to read the night before. “That’s a lot of work!” you might think. Nope. My 20 minutes is equal to his 60. Plus it gives me some reading material and enables us to have a discussion about the book.
Source 1: Your child’s teacher. Reach out to your child’s Reading (or English) teacher and see what books they are supposed to read the rest of the year. You can also ask the teacher for suggestions of good books for your child’s reading level.
Bonus: Post on Facebook. There are a dozen Mommas with kiddos your kiddos’ age—see what they’re reading.
Source 2: https://www.thechildrensbookreview.com/books-by-age. This site allows you to search for books by infant, preschool, preteen, and teen. Other sites include Power School Learning, which breaks up reading lists by K-5: https://baldwinschool.learning.powerschool.com/llopez-carickhoff/baldwinremote/cms_page/view/50267184, and Middle and High School: https://baldwinschool.learning.powerschool.com/llopez-carickhoff/baldwinremote/cms_page/view/50268839.
Source 3: Let’s get you some books for free. Download Overdrive. https://www.overdrive.com. If you have a library card, add that information to your account and gain access to its electronic library. Don’t have a library card? Call your local library, or call libraries in larger cities and see if you can gain access to one over the phone.
Bonus: Sora, https://soraapp.com/welcome, is also an awesome application that allows kids to read for free. Reach out to your school to see if they have a code you can use. I believe you need a code in order for it to work.
Bonus: You don’t have to be a resident to borrow at these libraries: https://www.aworldadventurebybook.com/blog/libraries-with-non-resident-borrowing-privileges
Source 4: Is your little one too tiny to read alone and you’re teleworking? There are myriad stories read by celebrities all over the internet. Instead of giving you just one resource, there are many found in this article: https://www.thewrap.com/amy-adams-jennifer-garner-celebrities-read-bedtime-stories-comfort-kids-isolation-video/
This elective period really allows you to tailor learning to your child. If they love music, consider hosting two music classes a week instead of one. A huge fan of computer science? Maybe split this into two 30-minute periods led by computer science, then a second elective for the remaining 30 minutes. The sky is the limit!
Elective 1: Art
There’s nothing quite like creating something beautiful.
Source 1: Use this time to explore cognitive behavior therapy by checking out some art therapy options. You can tailor these to your children’s age. https://positivepsychology.com/art-therapy/ Might be good for Mom and Dad, too!
Source 2: If your kiddo is kinda shy, start with a free Museum Tour. A little more confident? There’s a list of art contests here, too. https://docs.google.com/document/d/1EVMQiHHKugF4RQ071DzimkSKn1AuiBNOJ-i6xs1mBts/preview?fbclid=IwAR0U9cb0IOGtVGiY_D6T6tnJJC4panz3cYX3gt4e1ojfnUu1wDDEBHKJg6c
Elective 2: Outdoor Work/Play
Take a deep breath…outside. This hour is a mix of work, play, and science.
Source 1: This resource has lesson plans for gardening! Really! I love it because it mixes gardening and science. That way, if you don’t have green space or your green space forces you to break social distancing rules, you can still learn about the great outdoors! https://kidsgardening.org/lesson-plans
Source 2: Get moving! Home gyms are the new norm. This website provides you with 10 YouTube channels that are movement-focused for kiddos. https://www.popsugar.com/family/exercise-dance-movement-youtube-channels-for-kids-47316017
Elective 3: Band
Trenton plays the clarinet, violin, and drums. On days when I’m simply too swamped to really micromanage him, I just let him play for an hour. On other days, I add a little more structure.
Source 1: Ask their band teacher for support. Offer to pay your student’s band teacher for private or group Facetime, Skype, or online lessons.
Source 2: Not a musician? That’s fine! This source provides different resources for studying music theory and history. https://www.littlekidsrock.org/modband/resources/
Elective 4: Life Skills
Life skills is my fancy way of saying, “You’re gonna help out around the house, kid.” Consider this time set aside to get your house in order. Laundry, dusting, vacuuming, organizing, fixing that pipe, painting the banister, all the little things you usually don’t have time for. And no, they don’t get paid for it—it’s a teaching opportunity after all.
Source 1: Okay. I’m giving you this source but I’d never follow it myself. Before Brandon, Trenton grew up in a single-parent home and I needed all hands on deck to run a tight ship, so Trenton was doing chores way above his pay grade. This source, however, gives you a good idea of what most kiddos in your child’s age range are capable of doing. https://www.yourmodernfamily.com/age-appropriate-chores-for-kids/
Source 2: Life skills aren’t always tangible. Have your child watch a video (I suggest Ted.com) on some key life skills and write a one-page paper or give a persuasive speech on why they are important. Some topics include: self-defense, first-aid and the importance of health, time management, decision-making skills, public speaking, communication, managing money and basic budgeting, and the basics of traveling.
Elective 5: Computer Science
I know literally zero things about computer science, other than it is one of the top five skills businesses look for in hiring a new employee. Moving to an all-online/computer-based curriculum may answer this elective for you in and of itself—that’s a lot of time in front of a screen. If your kid is a gamer, coder, or loves screen time, there’s a way of making screen time count even more.
Source 1: Code.org provides curriculum for K-12 computer science in the largest school districts in the United States and Code.org also organizes the annual Hour of Code campaign which has engaged more than 15% of all students in the world.
A cooking lesson can take on a bunch of different forms. Each form builds a critical life skill (and hopefully helps feed your kiddo lunch!). I’d rotate activities between planning a menu for lunch the next day, making a shopping list for a meal or for a week of meals, looking at the circular and doing a compare and contrast for the best deals, making an actual meal, or researching a recipe, depending on your child’s skill level.
Source 1: This website has so many printable worksheets to help teach your kiddo food categories, measuring skills, healthy foods, and healthy habits. http://www.nourishinteractive.com/nutrition-education-printables/category/4-teaching-students-healthy-cooking-classroom-activities-kids-eating-healthy-food-cooking-teacher-resources-printables-worksheets
Source 2: The Chop Chop Cooking Club is a free online resource that gives you a delicious new recipe to master, learning different essential cooking skills along the way. Each challenge will also come with how-tos, shopping and storage tips, fun activities, and conversation starters. http://chopchopcookingclub.org
Bonus: Me! I’m happy to help you come up with cooking class/meal plan/etc for your family. Send me a message to learn more.
I almost took math off of the schedule because I’m just so terrible at it and I didn’t want to totally embarrass myself. But, I guess that’s the whole purpose of having sources.
Source 1: https://learnzillion.com/p/ This collection of “how-to” math and English videos are open to parents. That’s right. You have FULL ACCESS!—Including the digital versions of the Illustrative Mathematics, EL Education, and Louisiana Guidebooks curricula.
Source 2: Here are 11 additional math sites for kids. I don’t really have much else to write. God Bless our math teachers. https://blog.reallygoodstuff.com/11-free-math-sites-for-kids/
The best time to start learning a language is before six years old. I sure as heck didn’t do that, despite the many hours I spent watching Sesame Street. But, foreign language is a staple in many high school’s curriculum, so starting early is best…and fun!
Source 1: https://www.littlepim.com/. This adorable site is for a younger audience, and it costs $5/month, $50/year. With a full subscription, your little one can learn any language or multiple languages. You will also get access to the Parent/Teacher Guide with helpful tips, weekly lessons, and activities.
Source 2: Here’s a link to 10 different learning apps for kids. Trenton was a big fan of Duolingo when we lived in Italy. https://elearningindustry.com/10-best-language-learning-apps-for-kids. And it’s free!
History and social studies teach us how to communicate and engage with other people and communities. Is there a more important skill we can learn to be productive, caring members of society? I think not!
Source 1: This is a source within a source within a source. This website gives lists of websites for social studies lessons, virtual museum tours, field trips, games and simulations. https://www.weareteachers.com/social-studies-websites/. With such a comprehensive source, let’s end the day with science.
Science enables children to develop key life skills, overall awareness of their surroundings, and a solid understanding of who, what, why, and how. The following websites help lead students through observations, information collection, and logical thinking. Explore together at any age.
Source 1: America’s most eligible bachelor Bill, Bill, Bill, Bill, Bill, Bill Nye the science guy, is at it again with an interactive website complete with how-to videos. WARNING: Your home is about to become a chemistry lab. But is that such a bad thing? https://www.billnye.com/home-demos
Source 2: NatGeo. As if the squishy egg video doesn’t seal the deal… This site is super interactive and even has a personality quiz. I took the one for dinosaurs (obviously). I know it’s the best site because it chose my favorite dinosaur: Apatosaurus.
Source 3: Mystery Science is a source I’m not super familiar with, but one of Trenton’s DODEA teachers highly recommended it. https://mysteryscience.com/school-closure-planning?fbclid=IwAR1ltmovpsOfZgrpl-fuUHtNvwGASaaEO4OL7gxv2DQyeQw1SP0rk4OjqkU. There are so many lessons on here for students from K-5, including: What Will the Weather Be on My Birthday? And Do Animals Laugh? Heck, I wanna know the answers to those…
But Wait, There’s More!
Tutoring Support: com: Tutor.com/military. Tutor.com has approximately 3,000 expert online tutors available 24/7—no appointment needed and at no cost to the user—to provide tutoring, homework help, test preparation and instruction to students (and parents) in grades K-12. The service also has several other tools that can assist students and parents such as drop-off reviews for writing and math, video lessons, practice quizzes, and SAT/ACT Essentials from The Princeton Review.
Online Classes. Outschool: https://outschool.com. TIP: When you confirm your email address, you’ll get $20 your first course. You can choose classes by format, schedule, and subject. Subjects include arts, coding and tech, English, health and wellness, life skills, math, music, science and nature, social studies, world languages, and others!
Make Your Home A Classroom. BrainPOP: https://www.brainpop.com/. BrainPOP is offering free family access due to school closures. This playful, reflective, educator-focused, global site offers students the ability to study science, social studies, English, math, arts and music, science and technology, and health by unit and by grade.
Khan Academy: https://www.khanacademy.org. Khan Academy got us through two years in DODEA. It’s one of the best resources I know. Created by experts, Khan Academy’s library of trusted, standards-aligned practice and lessons covers math K-12 through early college, grammar, science, history, AP, SAT, and more. It’s all free for learners and teachers. I cannot recommend this resource enough.
Enticing Videos. The Kids Should See This. https://thekidshouldseethis.com/ The If Khan Academy is the most helpful resource that I’m sharing, this one is simply my favorite. The Kid Should See This is an unprecedented collection of 4,300+ kid-friendly videos, curated for teachers and parents who want to share smarter, more meaningful media in the classroom and at home. Of course it’s free!
Scholastic Learn At Home. https://classroommagazines.scholastic.com/support/learnathome.html. I used to be SO EXCITED when the teacher passed out Scholastic Magazines on Friday and we spent the last class of the day leafing through pages upon pages of vivid imagery and insightful articles. This website is no different, and is an excellent resource for grades PreK-9th.