Woof. And here we are. Most of us arguing with our kids at the kitchen table. Some of us throwing in the towel in the first week. And some frantically searching the Internets for easy solutions. Spoiler, I don’t think there are any.

I typically spend my days teaching roughly 150 kids. Middle schoolers at that. I went into quarantine thinking keeping my three kids occupied should be a breeze. Nope. We have three very different levels of learners in our house–upper elementary, pre-k, and toddler. And you better believe they all demand full attention.

I’ve been brainstorming and reworking routines and schedules and activities for two weeks straight. The new wrench in the plan is that I will likely begin online teaching full-time in a week. So, like the rest of the Internet, I will not only be providing daycare, homeschool, and lunch services, but I will also be working full-time. So far I have only been providing supplemental materials to my students, and my husband has been working full-time, so as soon as the demands increase for me, we will need to adjust our schedule yet again.

I finally realized that our homeschool activities could be broken into two types of activities…timed activities and a list of tasks that should be completed. This helps me break down our day a little easier.

Two Categories of Activities for Homeschool

Independent Timed Tasks

  • Reading – online reading using Reading IQ or just a good ol’ book
  • Audiobooks – headphones on or in a relaxing spot in the house
  • Journaling – allow them to free write or give them a simple writing prompt
  • Typing – Typing Club is one option for free typing practice
  • Puzzles – pick an age-appropriate count and pick a puzzling spot in your house (for continuous work)
  • Building with Cardboard – all those Amazon boxes can be put to use with some scissors and tape
  • Coloring – color by number takes some sustained effort that lends itself to a certain amount of time
  • Khan Academy – grade-level math
  • ABCmouse – a variety of learning activities for younger elementary learners
  • Adventure Academy – a variety of learning activities for older elementary learners
  • Mystery Science – a site with videos, lessons, and activities for all elementary age groups
  • No Red Ink – site for older elementary students to practice grammar and writing skills

One idea would be to create a personal learning document for each of your children that they could access via email. The document would include links to each timed activity for the day that they could select and work through independently. This should allow you to be able to do your work alongside them.

You can see that I kept some activities the same for both kids despite their age difference. This allows them to work and play together during some activities.

The good news is that their teachers will likely begin to send assignments and videos for your kids to complete, as well. Some of these will be able to fit into the independent timed category, and some will fall into the second category.

Semi-Independent Task List

  • Worksheets – these might come out of grade-level workbooks from places like Amazon or Target or you can download and print age-appropriate ones from sites like Teachers Pay Teachers
  • Coloring Pages – choose a page out of a coloring book to complete
  • Quizizz – sign up for an account and either create your own Quizizz for your kids or find premade ones for all different subjects and ages
  • Drawing Tutorials – my kids love the Art for Kids Hub tutorials but their art teachers have also posted tutorials on their websites
  • Sticker Retelling/Story Writing – use the sticker pages in the front and back of books to create a storyboard retell (see below)
  • Article Reading w/Questions – Newsela provides articles at various reading levels and includes comprehension questions at the end
  • School Assignments – teachers are likely already offering resources or will soon be providing new instruction, so those will be tasks that will need to be checked off the list, as well

I hope that gives you a few ideas. It’s not perfect. None of this is. But if you can push through the moments you just want to turn on the TV by sticking to the schedule and routine, you’ll find that everyone feels better.