As our children’s school shut down due to the Covid-19 and our work schedule changed to include either cancellations or Zoom meetings, we were left with the reality of balancing homeschooling our three children while working from home for the remainder of the school year. The world has turned upside down and, therefore, our family life has, too.
As soon as we found out that we were going to be in quarantine, I knew I had to come up with some way to make this time easier, even fun. So, I started making plans and wrote up a daily schedule to make our time at home feel a little more normal. Focusing on what I can control will go a long way in making these next months fulfilling and organized.
Creating structure for our work and homeschool schedules works best during these long days at home and gives us some sense of normalcy. It’s not that we’re slaves to this schedule, following it to the minute, but our kids benefit from it. Daily structure helps them know when things are supposed to happen, and knowing what to expect actually lets our kids relax and not be anxious.
We all wake up at different times in the morning. I start my morning around 6 am so I can get some good work time in before school begins. My husband feeds the children, and makes sure they get dressed and brush their teeth before school starts. At 8:30 am we go for a family walk — of all five us — around our neighborhood. With our face masks in place, we walk zigzag to socially distance from our neighbors who also are enjoying some fresh air. By the way, have you noticed how nice your neighbors are now while we’re all quarantined?
Since school has “re-started,” our 13-year-old daughter attends Zoom classes with her teacher and peers, which she very much looks forward to. Our school, The Waldorf School of San Diego, a low-tech / low-media school, has chosen to provide Zoom classes only for the upper grades, so we’re are in charge of teaching our two boys the 1st and 3rd grade curricula. During the morning we teach spelling and math, and if we are both available, we teach the boys separately. (It’s a true challenge of patience to teach two grades at the same time.) However, this academic part of homeschooling is our kids’ favorite, and I have to say it’s a gift to see what they learn. I truly admire how hard teachers work.
Here is our YouTube video showing a day of the life of our homeschool:
Some of our homeschooling is what our school sends us, but we also let our kids have input into what they would like to learn. For example, they have asked to learn about different countries where either French or Spanish is spoken. So we pick a new country each week and learn everything about it, talk in that language and also learn what food they eat and cook a dish from that culture. So far, for Spanish class we have made Migas, Cuban sandwiches and churros. Next week we’ll study French countries — I can smell the croissants already. We love to travel and explore new cultures, so this is a way for us to still “travel” while quarantined.
Throughout the day, we take lots of breaks for playing, going outside in our garden, snacking, or simply talking. The coronavirus epidemic is forcing families and couples to spend more time with each other and have real conversations, and figuring out how to occupy ourselves without TV or computers or without going elsewhere for activities. It can be a challenge, but a good one, I think. It’s amazing how something so restrictive on one level can also be so freeing on other levels.
We grow 80% of our food in our garden on a standard city lot in the middle of San Diego. It is not just important for feeding ourselves: it is also a place for stress relief and a classroom for the kids. Every day the kids and I spend time in the garden learning and harvesting our meals. Gardening is part of my children’s school curriculum, so naturally the garden is part of our home-schooling.
In the afternoon, our kids have quiet time so my husband and I can get some work done, attend Zoom meetings, etc. The kids will read books and quietly listen to music or an audio book. The balance of work and homeschool is challenging, but we have found that creating a schedule that includes adult work time while the kids are occupied with activities that do not require our help is key. It also gives everyone a break and some much needed alone time.
Afternoons and evenings are free, and either we all go for another walk or perhaps play games together. At other times some of us do our own thing. My husband and I try to support each other’s self-care. One thing we both agree on is that we need personal workouts, so we take turns taking care of the kids while other works out. My husband goes for a run or a bike ride, and I take an online yoga class. When five people spend all day together, some alone time is key to keeping everyone happy.