With schools closing to stop the spread of coronavirus, you may find yourself working from home with a new side-gig: teacher.
If you’re new to homeschooling, you’re probably wondering how you can help your kids learn and keep them occupied while you work. Is it possible to avoid a screen time free-for-all and keep your sanity?
1. Check the school website
First things first, see if your teacher or school has learning packets or classes via Google Classrooms.
States and cities that are shutting down schools generally provide some online resources. Check with your child’s teacher or principal for guidance.
This Parent Toolkit has guidelines for what students should know by the end of the year.
2. Find a schedule
You may want to try to follow your child’s regular school schedule or decide on a plan with a family meeting. These printable schedules let you plan out your day.
Keep in mind younger children may only be able to focus on a task for 10 or 15 minutes. Take lots of movement breaks, sing songs and get outside when you can.
3. Use free educational websites
Many educational websites are offering free subscriptions during school closures.
Scholastic is offering free online resources during the crisis, including 20 days of lessons for grades pre-K to 9.
Open Culture has free textbooks, movies and audiobooks and links to free online courses from professors.
Prodigy Math, which is used by many school districts, has free video game style math learning. And the language program Duolingo offers free online learning tools. And the website CK-12 has age-appropriate lessons in all subjects for different grades.
4. Play some read-alouds
Some of your children’s favorite authors are offering daily read-alouds during the crisis. Mac Barnett (“Sam and Dave Dig a Hole,” “Mac B: Kid Spy”) will read daily at 3 p.m. EDT and Oliver Jeffers (“Stuck,” “Here We Are”) at 2 p.m. EDT.
Peter H. Reynolds, author of “The Dot” and “ish” will have daily Facebook Lives.
Kate Messner, author of the new middle grade novel “Chirp” and picture book “The Next President” with Adam Rex, shares an array lessons from other authors on her website.
Romper put together “Operation Storytime” with read-alouds from enough authors to fill a virtual library.
Authors who are planning new read-alouds and lessons are sharing their schedules in a google doc created by literacy advocate Olivia Van Ledtje, and more are sharing resources with the Twitter hashtag #kidlitquarantine.
5. Watch webinars
Mo Willems, of “Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus” and “Elephant and Piggie” fame, will be hosting “lunchtime doodles” at 1 p.m. EDT.
Jarret J. Krosoczka, author of the “Lunch Lady” graphic novel series and the National Book Award finalist “Hey, Kiddo,” is hosting daily drawing webcasts on YouTube at 2 p.m. EDT for all ages.
Khan Academy is a great, free resource for instructional videos on many topics.
Mystery Science is offering free science lessons during school shutdowns.
6. Listen to audiobooks and podcasts
The streaming audio service Pinna is offering families and teachers two free months of access to their audio streaming service for kids ages 3-12. To activate, go to Pinna and use the promo code: PINNA4KIDS.
There are plenty of educational and entertaining podcasts for kids, including NPR’s WOW in the World, Story Pirates and Brains On!
7. Check out Ebooks
Many libraries are closing, but online resources remain available. Check SimplyE, Libby and Kanopy to get free resources with your library card.
The Epic! reading app announced Monday that it would be free to parents for the rest of the school year. To unlock free at-home access, students and their families need a digital invitation from a teacher or school librarian, who can sign up free to provide access to their students and even assign books to read remotely.
8. Print activity sheets
Many children’s book authors offer free activity sheets on their websites. Jarrett Lerner, author of “Enginerds,” is creating new worksheets every few days that let kids finish a comic or complete a drawing with their own silly ideas.
9. Get physical
With kids kept indoors more than usual, don’t forget to provide plenty of wiggle time.
Mark Kanemura, a former backup dancer with Lady Gaga and contestant on “So You Think You Can Dance,” is offering virtual dance parties on Instagram.
Just because you’re quarantined doesn’t mean you’re under house arrest. Take your work outside and let the kids dig, or just observe nature. They can track what they see in a science notebook.
If your kids Netflix, you can chill (or get some work done). And there are plenty of quality films to get you through quarantine.
Commonsense media keeps a list of the best documentaries for kids.
For an all-family TV break, shows about cooking and travel can be great cross-overs.
Disney Plus has added Frozen 2 three months early due to the outbreak.
Be kind to yourself; remember this is temporary and no one expects perfection. If you make good use of the new Disney Plus streaming service, your kids may remember it as the best school year ever.