"What we are being asked to do is not humanly possible," says Emily W. King, Ph.D., in a PSA that she published on her Facebook page. "Working, parenting, and teaching are three different jobs that cannot be done at the same time. It’s not hard because you are doing it wrong. It’s hard because it’s too much. Do the best you can," she continues. This is a mentality that I am finding comfort in, as my own daughter embarks on her fourth week home from school—and our overly-ambitious schedule for homeschooling that we put together on day one has slowly fallen apart (much like me on a few occasions) and I am sitting here wondering if this will go down as the year that she didn’t finish fourth grade.
I am not alone. Across the world schools are closed, some through April (for now), and others for the foreseeable future—with the situation changing daily. Schools are offering different levels of support: Some school systems and private schools were immediately ready to launch into remote learning, while others are still working on putting systems into place. Either way, the sudden shift from sending your child off to school every morning to learning from home is a huge adjustment for both parents and students—and needless to say, it can be overwhelming. But as homeschooling is suddenly a part of our new normal, it's important to remember that we all are struggling to adjust to online instruction and trying to find ways to keep our children engaged.
Jamie Heston, a veteran homeschooler, homeschool consultant, and a board member of the Homeschool Association of California, advises that you should be gentle with yourself, your child, your partner, and your coworkers. "We are in an unprecedented situation and everyone is under stress," Jamie says. She also recommends designating some time to teach your children "real life" activities, like cooking, gardening, and sewing. "Ask your children what they’d like to learn," she says. "Self-directed learning is the best. What is your child passionate about? Learning doesn’t only happen with a book at a desk." And most importantly, always remember to be flexible: "It’s going to be messy, and that’s OK, this is 'crisis schooling', not planned, thought-out homeschooling."
Shop the Story
We started a list of resources to turn to for academic inspiration, art lessons, a little culture, and a few distractions. Have another favorite? Add it in the comments below.
Online Art Lessons
Illustrator Wendy MacNaughton @wendymac teaches a 30-minute drawing lesson for all ages called "Drawing Together" on Instagram Live M-F at 10 am PST. It stays in her IG stories for 24 hours. She recently announced that she will be putting all the lessons on YouTube, so anyone, anywhere can watch anytime.
Illustrator and author Carson Ellis started a "Quarantine Art Club" that offers daily drawing prompts for all ages on her Instagram account @carsonellis
The Kennedy Center’s Artist-in-Residence, Mo Willems (author/illustrator of the Knuffle Bunny series) does a delightful daily drawing sessions M-F at 1 pm EST.
Storyline Online features professional actors reading popular picture books.
Time Magazine for kids is now free for the rest of the school year.
Podcasts and Audiobooks
Story Pirates is a podcast for kids that encourages creative writing.
Audible is offering a curated selection of titles for kids for free right now.
Brain Pop offers a bunch of educational activities with different topics such as science, social studies, and even engineering and tech.
The Math Learning Center has free printable math lessons for preschoolers through fifth graders.
NASA has a variety science activities for K-12.
Outschool provides live online classes on a breadth of subjects for children ages three to 18.
Storybird is a site that offers short story creation for all ages with engaging prompts.
Picture Prompts from the New York Times inspire writing via images.
Scholastic Books Story Starters are creative writing prompts for kids K-6.
Culture and Museums
Google Arts & Culture is rich with varied cultural content that includes everything from facts about dinosaurs, to a trip to the Louvre. The subject matter could easily spark an art or writing assignment, or even an age-appropriate research project.
The Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation has teamed up with Paradise Valley School District to create a K-12 curriculum. Each of its six activities, released weekly, will build up to a final art project inspired by Wright’s stained glass designs.
Nature and Animals
Natural Geographic Kids offers science, animals, and more cool stuff.
All About Birds from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology is where to go to work on your bird ID skills.
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