And in some places, school is being closed for weeks.
While that may sound like a kid's dream, for many parents it is a nightmare. There are schedules to coordinate, childcare and work options to figure out, and especially the question of What are we going to do all day everyday for all this time?
I'm not trying to be funny - this is an abrupt interruption of regular life, and it is stressful. I don't have answers to questions about work and who can stay home, but as a seven-year veteran of homeschooling, I have a few ideas for how to handle the extra hours at home that you suddenly have with your children.
Make a schedule
- Sleep. Have regular bedtimes and wake times, but take advantage of this time for your kids to get more sleep.
- Meals. Have you been wishing you had time for regular meals together? Now you do! Make them healthy and immune-system-building ones!
- Academics. Whether your child's school has given you assignments to do or not, it's a good idea to keep learning front and center.
- Time outside. This is not a hurricane or a blizzard that makes it dangerous to go outside. Work some time for fresh air and exercise into your day.
- Fun together. Pull out the board games, the card games, the hobbies, the building blocks. Encourage your children to play together, whatever the age differences might be.
- Alone time. Let everyone have a little bit of alone time each day, whether it is to read, rest, play, etc. It will help ward off that "I'm so tired of my family" feeling.
- Don't default to the screen. Make this something your kids can earn, but not an automatic.
Doing school at home
You may be surprised to find that doing school at home will not take nearly as long as you think. Without the interruptions of the typical school day, without the distraction of getting 20 children moving from activity to activity, the actual time it takes to learn a lesson at home is typically a lot less than in a classroom.
Most homeschoolers find that elementary children spend anywhere from one to four hours a day on school (depending on many different factors). Grades 7-12 spend anywhere from four to seven hours a day (but no extra homework).
What to focus on
- Read. Spend time reading to and with your children, even your big kids. Have a "family meeting" time (maybe first thing in the morning, or worked into the schedule later, when you can read a chapter of a book together. Make sure your kids have time to spend doing independent reading everyday too.
- Math. There are some awesome apps, websites, and videos and shows to help hone math skills. (My son can tell you how much he learns by watching the Odd Squad on PBS Kids.
- Writing. When you are in the store trying to find toilet paper and hand sanitizer, pick up some of those marble composition notebooks and have each of your kids keep a journal. If your child isn’t writing independently, let him or her dictate and you write it down. This is an historical time, honestly. When they are adults with children of their own, they can look back at their journal and tell stories about the time that the world stopped for a virus.
- Science. Watch videos. Take nature walks. Record the weather. Observe the world God made and marvel at it together.
- Recreation. Take advantage of time at home to learn a new skill or a new craft. My twelve-year-old daughter taught herself to knit last year, just from watching YouTube videos. It can be done.