Ok, I am officially exhausted. We’ve been home for a week now due to the Coronavirus. I wish I could have a day or two “off” but I know I can’t for a while. Working from home AND homeschooling three children is not a summer vacation at all. It’s far from it.
But this post is not about me. (It might come later if I’ll be depressed enough to write about myself…) I’d like to share a few homeschooling and time management practices we’ve applied to organize our family’s new life — for not a week, and not two. We have no idea how long it’ll last.
I am a mother of three (14, 11, and 4 years old). Last Friday, Mar 13 was a day off in the school of my kids (not because of the pandemic), so we were already home.
Then our government announced the school closure Friday night, so officially homeschooling started this Monday, Mar 16. The whole country (Hungary), including the teachers, students as well as parents) had only a weekend to be ready for this new adventure.
I am a consultant, I work from home 80% anyway, and travel the world approx. 20% of my time. Therefore, the work-from-home (WFH) is not a new thing to me at all. (And obviously, no travel for a while…)
What is new though, is that my husband also works from home now.
And of course, that all the three kids are home, so besides WFH, I also have to do homeschooling for them.
I have been helping the schools, teachers as well as parents in our school this whole week. And was trying to do my own work. And tried to homeschool our three children.
I am super exhausted, yes. And I am sure the worst and hardest is yet to come.
But I’d like to share at least some of how we do this. It might be useful to you — and it definitely helps me to stay sane these days…
My husband also works from home. We agreed on having 2-hour slots: he works from 8 to 10 every morning, then it’s my turn between 10 and noon.
The door of our home office is closed (yes, we’re lucky to have a separate home office room as I’ve been working from home for years!). The kids know that the closed door means “do not enter unless emergency” — And no, “I am thirsty” is not an emergency, it’s a task even our 4.5 years old son can solve himself 😉
And the parent who is not working is the “boss” outside.
We have lunch together around noon, then it’s my husband’s turn again, and we switch every two hours again.
The kids wake up around 8am. Breakfast is with me, then we have a “daily standup” to discuss the tasks for the day, and questions/obstacles. For example, I did a Microsoft Teams training for them this morning, because their school has just started to use Teams.
Then they go to their rooms and study from 9:30 until approx. 11:00 (or max 11:30).
Then play-time in our backyard.
After lunch, everyone reads and then we’re back to the backyard. (The weather is really nice during the day here, mornings and evenings can be chilly. As we get closer to summer, we might switch the indoor and outdoor activities, it always depends on the weather.)
From 3pm, it’s study time again, approx. 1.5–2 hours. Then it’s free time, they can read, play, whatever they want.
The 2-hour switch with my husband also allows me to run every other day. Luckily, we’re not locked down yet, and we live in a super quiet neighborhood, distancing myself from people is not challenging at all).
At the end of the day, we have dinner together, bath time, etc. Our youngest one is in bed around 9, the eldest ones around 10.
Then I work until I can stay awake (usually midnight — 1am), and so does my husband.
On better days, I talk to a friend or two, too. For example, the other day we did an online Whiskey Party with my friends in the US. That was fun! 😉
We also need a weekly routine, for several reasons. First of all, our kids have live online English classes two times a week: my son on Wed and Fri, daughter on Tue and Thu. They spend these afternoons with their ESL teachers (using Google Classroom), and of course we have to amend the daily routine for them these days.
Another reason is that both of my sons do judo Tue and Thu afternoons. During the isolation, there’s no judo class of course, but my eldest son coaches the youngest one, and we try to keep the Tue/Thu routine for them.
Same with my daughter who dances, and gets choreography videos online to practice. You name it 🙂
Also, we think it’s important to have “weekends” even if every day seems to be the very same in these circumstances. Since either I or my husband works, we feel it’s important to have activities together, too. “Weekend” can be any day, it doesn’t really matter. For example, we did a campfire yesterday (Thursday) 🙂
We had no experience with real homeschooling previously. However, our kids have always been very self-managing. They like being the boss of their own schedule, and these days it really pays off!
Both of them have a “master task list”, and they decide every morning what they want to study that day. Of course, they have to meet deadlines, this is one important rule. Other that that, I let them choose and decide.
This way, they also learn to estimate how long each task will take to complete.
For example, here is my daughter’s current task list (in OneNote). It’s in Hungarian, but probably you’ll understand even if you don’t speak our language:
She also has a notebook in OneNote where all the subjects, detailed tasks, homeworks, and everything else are collected:
Of course, my son does the same, in his own notebook.
(And we also have notebooks that we share with their classes, to help them out, but this is another story…)
Do they work alone and mastering their own study times? — Absolutely!
Does it mean I don’t help them? — Not at all! We have a daily “standup” meeting every morning, and they can ask for help anytime.
Of course, I also helped them to create the schedule, framework, notebook, daily and weekly routine, etc. I help them to maintain the notebooks, too.
I am the project manager — but I am not micro-managing my “team” at all. They have their own tasks and responsibilities — and I think this is going to be one of the most important lesson to learn in this period of time.