Tips and Ideas: How to turn your home into a classroom?
People are asking over the internet while the country is shut down during the Coronavirus pandemic: How do I turn my home into a classroom?
We understand it is tough to be suddenly thrown into the role as teachers. Most of us parents have never been in this situation before, where we are now spending an entire day with our school age children who need to continue their educations, and who are bored out of their minds.
We are in the same boat, so we want to share with you what we are doing. We are by no mean the experts. This place is created for us to share our ideas. If you have your own ideas, feel free to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We would love to hear from you!
We humans are creatures of habits, so let's start by keeping a schedule for M-F. Have your kids wake up at the same time everyday, brush their teeth, comb their hair, get dressed, and eat breakfast. Basically do everything they usually do during school days.
Then have them follow the schedule that you've made (see sample schedule below.) Set up alarms or alerts on your phone if needed. You can deviate slight from day to day. Don't make it a habit, though, because kids love to say, "but but but you let us skip our work yesterday."
8:30am - 9:00am Wake and get ready
9:00am - 10:00am 1st class
10:00am - 10:15am Break + snacks
10:15am - 11:15am 2nd class
11:15am - 11:30am Break
11:30am - 12:15pm Specials
12:00pm - 1:00pm Lunch
1:00pm - 1:45pm Specials
1:45pm - 2:00pm Break + snack
2:00pm - 2:45pm Reading block
2:45pm - 3:00pm School is out!
If you have younger kids, divide up the longer session into 2 separate session where the younger ones can play on their own, such as a quiet reading time or quiet drawing time where they will not disrupt the older ones.
Classes can be core classes that are assigned by the school (if available) or by you. Math, Reading/Language Arts, Social Studies, & Science are considered core classes.
Specials are other classes: PE, Arts & Crafts, Music, Language, etc.
If your child loves to study, you can have more Core classes in one day than Specials. But if not, 2 core classes a day will keep his/her attention without too much whining.
Need a schedule poster? Click here for some ideas.
Designate Your Home as Classrooms
If your kids are in various different grades, you may want to designate different areas of your house as different "classrooms". The kitchen could be art center, the living room can be reading nook, and the dining room as math center. Spread your kids out as much as possible, and rotate them through different "classrooms" during each time slot to keep them from distracting each other.
Kids need breaks, esp. when they are stuck inside the same place all day long. Let them choose the activities they want to do during break. If they want to watch TV, just let them. Watch a YouTube video or go outside and run around. Let them pick and choose as long as the break activity is appropriate for their age. If you have several children and one wants to go outside while another wants to stay inside, have them rotate on who can choose.
Designate a "Hall Monitor"
Now your bossy ones can shine! Each day name one of the kids as the "Hall Monitor". This kid is responsible in making sure the "classrooms" stay clean and that everyone does his/her house chores. Have a schedule up to show who's going to be the boss, I mean, Hall Monitor that day.
Children learn responsibilities by doing chores. If you don't have chores assigned already, this is the best time. With everyone at home, your house probably gets messier than before, so everyone should chip in to help. Create a chore chart and assign the task to everyone (yes, daddy and mommy included.) You can even set up a chore currency, where if someone doesn't do his/her chore and someone else has to pick up the slack, the one not doing the chore must pay up.
If you are fortunate where your children's school provides their textbooks online, read through the textbooks with them to help them with their assignments. For additional exercises, get workbooks in Math, Science, and Social Studies to help them with more practices.
Kids are motivated by rewards. It can be as simple as a star on a page, a little piece of candies, an extra 15 mins on electronics, or even a cotton ball inside a jar. If you have more than one kid, make it a competition to see who collects the most stars, etc. Click here for more rewards ideas.
Create a grid with 20 squares and post it on a wall. Every time your children do something well, give them a star sticker inside one of the squares. You should define what exactly gives them a star, such as picking up dirty clothes off the floor 3 days in a row, reading an extra 20 minutes, not arguing with siblings for an entire day, etc. If you don't define it ahead of time, you'd be nagged every other day about getting a star for doing this or that. A full page of stars trade for a special reward such as a bag of favorite snack or a extra hour of mommy time. Whatever it is that your child likes.
Give a reward when an older child help a younger one, whether it's in reading, math, or other subjects.
Give a badge to the child who behaved the best that day!
Have a treasure chest on hand, and kids love to be able to "hunt" for a reward when they desire one!
If you have more than one kids, you can have a healthy competition on a daily basis. (If you have an only like I do, consider setting up a Skype or Facetime session with friends or cousins.) Competition could be giving each student a math worksheet that is appropriate to his/her grade or skills, and whoever finishes first gets a reward.
Building competition can be fun. Time how quickly a student can build a circuit (check out Learning Resources Simple Stopwatch and Circuit Blox). The person finishes fastest win. Or have the student time him/herself and try to beat the previous time.
Fun Activities as Special Classes
Kids grow up so fast! Why not have a picnic for lunch if the weather is nice? Have them help prepare the lunch. Younger ones can gather utensils and plates while the older ones can help chop up veggies or prepare sandwiches.
Set up PE time. If you have sidewalk chalks, draw squares on the driveway and play 4-square. Most kids know how to play the game so ask them to teach you,or Google "4 square" and you will find tons of instructions. There are only 2 of us usually, so we draw 2 squares instead. We decorate the Queen square with a crown and the loser-square with a joker. When daddy joins in, we add a 3rd square.
Making stuff out of card boards can be fun too. (If you need glue and markers, check out our Teach-at-Home kits.) There are tons of Youtube videos that teach you how to make things out of card boards. My 6th grader just made a candy-dispensing machine, then filled it up with jelly beans and small m&m's. Took her 2 days so it was pretty involved.
If you are lucky with a good clear sky and dryer weather, lay a blanket outside and check out the constellations. Need help? This Light Learning Constellations is a fun way for kids 4+ to find the constellations in the sky. If this peaks your kids' interest to learn more, click here for more solar system ideas!
Everyone loves puzzle! Why not have a Puzzle "class"? Give your children puzzles that are appropriate for their age group, and let them have fun putting it together while learning new skills. This Number Sound Puzzle by Melissa and Doug is great for pre-K and K students in learning numbers and counting. This Fraction Pie Puzzles by Learning Resource is great for grade 3 and up! Click here for more educational puzzles!
Who doesn't like doodling? Instead of a written dairy, have your children create their dairy using pictures and words. Write out how they feel about being stuck inside the house all day. Hopefully this isn't going to a frequent event, so they can show their own children someday what's going on in 2020 during the first shut-in many of us ever experiences. All you need are some markers or colored pencils, and a sketch diary. With their permission, share their creation with friends and family, who are probably bored at home and needing some entertainment.
Talk about entertainment, why not create some videos by dressing up for the career of their choice? Have them pick a career, dress up in it, and explain why they choose such a career. Pretend they are working and let them have fun with it. Video them and share with friends and family! (And for your director-to-be, here's a fun Green Screen Production Kit to turn any video into a professional video!)
Make pancakes and dye them in different colors. (Mine swirled several colors and made solar system pancakes.) The younger ones can mix the pancakes while the older ones can cook them. Try different shapes. (You can always freeze the leftover ones and microwave them quickly for breakfast.)