Emergency Start Up
It’s Monday Morning
It’s Monday morning. School’s canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. You sit across the kitchen table from your children and wonder, “What are we going to do for the next few weeks?” They look at you in anticipation thinking they will spend the next few weeks playing video games. Do you admit you haven’t a clue and send them to the backyard to play? Or, do you start right in reciting multiplication tables because you can’t think of anything else to do?
The first thing to remember, you don’t have to duplicate the classroom environment in your home. And you don’t have to start right off with a full school day. Often children need time to adjust from going to school each day to being in the more relaxed atmosphere of home.
It is fine for your adventure to begin with a few laid back days simply enjoying being together at home. Before long, you’ll need to set a routine. This doesn’t mean you have to have a strict schedule, although children who have been in traditional classrooms for a number of years may be “programmed” to a strict schedule: It’s 9:00 a.m., we do math. Making a list of school tasks you want to accomplish for the week may be enough of a lesson plan.
For high school-specific ideas, check out our high school tips and resources.
Beginning Lesson Ideas
While your children are decompressing from traditional school structure you can make some preliminary plans. Below are some ideas for decompression time.
- Reading. Establish a routine of reading from the Bible together. Older children can take a few minutes to write their thoughts in their journals.
- Pick a book to read together. Little ones may want to draw quietly while you or one of the older children reads the story.
- Some of those classics that you remember from high school are more exciting when read aloud.
- Audible Stories (streaming books for free; no account required)
- Writing. Copywork: Have your children copy from the Bible or the book you are reading.
- Narrative. Ask the children to tell stories back to you, or write a summary of the story. Small children can draw a picture about the story and you write their sentence(s) to go with the picture.
- Composition/Creative Writing. Write their own story. For younger children, you write the story exactly as they tell it and they illustrate it.
- Give your child a picture to write a story from. Make a book with your child’s words and pictures. Or, download pictures books from the library and write the story.
- Write a letter to Grandma, to a missionary your church supports, or even to the president.
- Watch a movie based on a literary classic. Learn about the setting, characters, and plot. Record a video of their film review.
- Keep a daily journal of your experience being home from school.
Note to Parents: Use the red pen sparingly. Focus on different elements of a composition, rather than everything at once: punctuation, spelling, sentence structure, etc.
There are so many sources for reading lists. These are a few we found. The inclusion of a book on one of these lists is not a recommendation or endorsement by CHEA. Parents should screen all reading materials before sharing with their children.
- Newberry Award and Honor Books (Elementary & Junior High)
- Caldecott Award and Honor Books (Young Elementary)
- Readers Digest – Free Reading Online Resources (All Ages)
- Patrick Henry College: The 100 Books Every Student Should Read (before they die.)
- 50 Classics (with links to buy used)
- Ambleside Online (All Ages)
- Mensa for Kids Booklists (All Ages)
Math & Science
- Cooking. Not only does having your children fix meals teach a life skill, but many math lessons are included. Fractions and multiplication come to mind right away. If you have your children plan the meal and grocery list, they will also need to budget money and learn to shop carefully.
- Math Facts. Everyone can benefit from a review of math facts. You can make flashcards for your younger children. If you have older children, have them make the flashcards and do the review with the little ones. All children will benefit.
- Games. Many board games have a mathematic component. Monopoly™ and Life™ require money skills.
- MathUSee.com offers a free worksheet generator.
- Ambleside Online Math Facts Practice
Just look around your house and outside and you will find plenty of science to keep you busy for weeks.
- Do a search for Kitchen Science and do some of the experiments.
- Watch the weather, using a calendar to track it. Compare what happens with what was predicted on TV or a weather app.
- Older children can research the science of weather predictions.
- Learn about the different types of clouds. Then use that as a springboard for an art project.
- Bird watching and insect watching
- Leaf collections, or rock collections (Both bird/insect watching and collections can become long term science projects, or even lifelong hobbies.)
- Plant and grow a vegetable garden.
- Learn about space and aeronautics from the Kennedy Space Center.
- Some zoos and aquariums are hosting Facebook Lives or posting webcam feeds regularly on Facebook. Cincinnati Zoo, San Diego Zoo, Aquarium of the Pacific.
- Take a virtual tour:
Reading the Bible is the foundation for other history lessons.
- Reading historical novels will also give a sense of a specific time period.
- Does your child have a particular interest like knights in shining armor or royalty? Research historical time periods online. Read together or individually.
- Let your child pick a project to do, such as make a miniature village or draw the family tree of the Tudors or even your own family tree.
- Research your genealogy.
- Become a historian. Keep a daily journal of your experience being home from school.
- Take a virtual museum tour:
Most children are physically active by nature. You don’t need a specific P.E. program.
- Bicycle riding, jumping rope, and playing on the swing set provide plenty of physical activity.
- Twister and other active games
- Balloon volleyball
- Indoor or outdoor obstacle course
- Create a fitness circuit in your yard or house.
- Take a walk around your neighborhood.
- Some dance centers are offering free dance lessons virtually.
- Create an art area in your home, stocked with basic art and craft supplies
- Research an artist and create a piece of art inspired by him or her
- Paris Musées has over 150,000 pieces of high-resolution artwork available in their online collections gallery
- Join one of the free online art lessons being offered
- Learn about musical instruments, composers, and musical composition
- Maestro Classics Free Curriculum Guides
- SQUILT Music Appreciation (offers some free resources)
- Classics for Kids
- Have a dance party with your favorite music
- Participate in a LEGO building challenge. Invite your friends to join. Take a photo of your creation each day and share it with one another.
- Virtual field trips with Chris Field
As you and your children settle into being at home together, you can start establishing a routine that works for your family. Begin slowly. Add one subject at a time. Establish your family’s school routine. Enjoy the freedom of having a school schedule that fits your family’s needs. And, you don’t have to do math at 9:00 a.m.