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How to Plan Your Kid's Schedules During School Closures

Updated: 7 days ago



If you are developing a schedule for your children to follow at home during school closures, I want to encourage you not to get too stressed out about academics. Since stress depletes the immune system, if you are fighting with your children about academic work, and they are fighting back with you, it might make things very difficult. Not to mention that in schools today we teach children how to do things differently than how you probably learned to do it when you were a kid. Just try watching a 5th grader do their math homework to see what I mean! So try to take some slow deep breaths, and let go of the worries about the academics your child is missing in school. Be flexible and open and try to make learning fun!


I also encourage you to check out this post I wrote which talks about using this time to teach lifeskills to your kids including: communication skills, coping skills, yardwork, gardening, cooking, baking, sewing, first aid, digital skills, financial, car, writing, pet care, basic home repair skill and household chores.


Every family is different. My kids happen to thrive on structure, so this is what is working well for us. Please be gentle with yourself during this time and consider, as this article points out, that Homeschooling is not the same as Crisis Schooling during Covid-19. If you do decide to create a schedule, I encourage you to include some of these aspects:



I urge you to consider building in movement breaks throughout your day, no matter what age you are! Depending on your child’s age and developmental level, I would expect an elementary aged child to work for about 15-30 minutes and then take a break. I want to encourage you to make the breaks MOVEMENT based. There is a lot of research about the benefits of movement for the brain and learning. If your kids can’t get outside to run around, I have included some indoor movement-based resources below.


Movement and physical activity benefit not only the body but also the “brain structure, brain function, cognition, and school achievement” (1). The link between mental health and movement is being studied more each year. A recent study demonstrated that children with 0 days per week of physical activity were about twice more likely to have anxiety (2). In addition, European researchers conducted a study of over 11,000 adolescents and found that sports participation and frequent physical activity were both found to “independently contribute to greater well-being and lower levels of anxiety and depressive symptoms.”(3)


The takeaways here are that physical activity and movement is good for lowering anxiety and improving the body and the brain. And in a time like this, mental wellness is exceedingly important so please ensure that your child is getting enough movement and physical activity every day. If they can't go outside, here are some fun resources you can use indoors.


Fluency and Fitness is a cool website for kids in grades K-2 that offers literacy and math content combined with fitness. I love this concept and they are also offering free subscriptions to parents for the next 3 weeks to help with school closures.


I am a HUGE fan of Cosmic Kids Yoga! On their website, you can sort content by video length, energy level (calm, focus or active) and category (stories, mindfulness, yoga, relaxation and dance.) One of the great things is that Cosmic Kids also offers workouts on themes that kids LOVE like Frozen, Minecraft and Pokemon! You can’t beat that!


If you ask your kids about Go Noodle, they will probably be familiar with it if they are in elementary school. This website has fun, upbeat and catchy movement activities that range from 1 minute to 20 minutes long. The kids love it! If you scroll down to the bottom you can pick a video by themes of sporty, stretchy, dynamite and delicious!



MovetoLearnMS is a very cool youtube channel that has lots of fun movement videos for kids pre-k through teen! This might be a good choice if you have older kids, or multiple age kids.


Gym teacher, The Body Coach, is also offering PE with Joe which are about 30 minute workouts kids can do at home and we will be using these for our gym days on Mondays and Tuesdays.


Beach Body is a company that many adults use for at-home workouts, and they have put together this list of Beachbody Kids Workouts you can stream. The videos vary in length and are about 12-30 minutes long. Since they are a bit longer, these will be great to use on a rainy day.



Co-Create a Schedule with Your Kids for More Buy-in


You might have more buy-in with your children if you ask for their input in creating a schedule and you work together to co-create the schedule as a family. Below is the tentative schedule we have developed for our 7 year old first grader and our 16 year old junior. When we asked our kids for their input, our 7 year old requested that snack and lunch times be at a certain time of day and that we have specials daily. Our 16 year old also asked if he could teach computers to his little brother! Of course! As you can see from our schedules below, we aren't having the kids do academics for 8 hours straight.


It can be hard for children to understand the concept of time, as in “you need to read for 15 more minutes” so it might be helpful to use a visual timer. If you don’t have a visual Time Timer at home, Online Stopwatch is also a good resource.




I've also created this free visual schedule that you can print and use at home. A visual schedule is a picture plan that shows the different parts of your child’s day. It is very helpful for children so they know what to expect, which can also help reduce anxiety.



First Grader Schedule


Before 9:00 am:

Watch TV, eat breakfast, teeth and hair brushed. TV goes off at 9am.


9:00-9:30:

Reading activities on Scholastic Learn at Home or Khan Academy Kids or Starfall


9:30-10:00:

Movement Brain Break with Cosmic Kids, Go Noodle etc.


10:00-10:30:

Quiet time - reading or workbook and snack


10:30-11:00:

If weather permits, walk outside with the whole family. Otherwise do an indoor Brain Break


11:00–11:10:

Guided Relaxation:


Using one of these relaxation apps

Calm Classroom

Go Noodle Flow

Children’s CHOC

Insight Timer


11:10-11:40:

Creative time: draw, paint or write while listening to music or a kid-friendly podcast


Podcasts:

But Why? A Podcast for Curious Kids

Wow in the World!

Stories Podcast

Circle Round

Noodle Loaf


11:40-12:00:

Build something with legos, blocks, k'nex etc.


12:00-12:30:

Lunch and clean up


12:30-1:00:

Math on ST Math, Khan Academy Kids, Prodigy or ABCYA


1:00-1:30:

Science together:


Science Mom

Mystery Science

Visit an online museum virtually

Exploratorium

Do a Magic Schoolbus Science Kit (We had these already from Christmas)


1:30–2:00:

Screen-Free Activity Bags together (free printable available here!.)


2:00-3:00:

Go outside and play, if weather permits, otherwise free play inside.


3:00-3:30:

Specials Time:


Monday & Tuesday: Gym Wednesday: Art. We will draw/paint/color freely or complete a guided drawing with Art for Kids Hub, like learning how to draw baby yoda!

Thursday: Music

Friday: Computers


3:30 and on:

Free time to do what you want and social time (connect with friends and family online), play, watch TV, etc. You need to take showers before dinner at 6:00 pm.




Junior Schedule


Before 9 am:

Watch TV, eat breakfast, teeth and hair brushed. TV goes off at 9am.


9:00-9:30:

Academic work and practicing for driver’s ed test


9:30-10:00:

Take a jog outside and/or practice: Planking, Push ups, Sit ups, Squats, Lunges, Burpees or Yoga with Adriene


10:00-10:30:

Academic work


10:30-11:00:

If weather permits, walk outside with the whole family. Otherwise do indoor exercise.


11:00–11:10:

Guided Relaxation:


Using one of these relaxation apps

Calm Classroom

Go Noodle Flow

Children’s CHOC

Insight Timer


11:10-12:00:

Academic work


12:00-12:30:

Lunch and clean up


12:30-1:00:

Wrap up independent academic work


1:00-1:30:

Science together:


Science Mom

Mystery Science

Visit an online museum virtually

Exploratorium

Do a Magic Schoolbus Science Kit (We had these already from Christmas)


1:30–2:00:

Activity Bags together (free printable available.)


2:00-3:00:

Go outside and play, if weather permits, otherwise free play inside.


3:00-3:30:

Specials Time:


Monday & Tuesday: Gym Wednesday: Art. We will draw/paint/color freely or complete a guided drawing with Art for Kids Hub, like learning how to draw baby yoda!

Thursday: Music

Friday: Computers


3:30 and on:

Free time to do what you want and social time (connect with friends and family online), play board games, watch TV, etc. You need to take showers before dinner at 6:00 pm.

References


(1) Chaddock-Heyman, L., Hillman, C. H., Cohen, N. J. & Kramer, N. (2014). The importance of physical activity and aerobic fitness for cognitive control and memory in children. Monographs of the Society for Research in Child Development 79(14), 25-50.



(2) Zhu, Heagele and Healy (2019) Zhu, X., Haegele, J. A. & Healy, S. Movement and mental health: behavioral correlates of anxiety and depression among children of 6-17 years old in the U.S. Mental Health and Physical Activity (16), 60-65.



(3) McMahon, E. M., Corcoran, P., O’Regan, G., Keeley, H., Cannon, M., Carli, V., Wasserman, C., Hadlaczky, G., Sarchiapone, M., Apter, A., Balazs, J., Balint, M., Bobes, J., Brunner, R., Cozman, D., Haring, C., Iosue, M., Kaess, M., Kahn, J.-P., … Wasserman, D. (2017). Physical activity in European adolescents and associations with anxiety, depression and well-being. European Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, (1)111.

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