We have all seen the memes about 2020 and the complaints about what an awful year this has been. Indeed, going forward, if anything goes wrong, we can just describe it as a “total 2020.” Hopefully, less than a week from now, 2021 will see us return to the old normal.
But, in the meantime, while many of us continue to homeschool, the tasks of homeschooling have contributed to the difficulties faced by many this year. It is uniquely difficult for those who cannot work from home and have to continue to go to an office or other place of work as they need to have childcare or supervision for the older ones – potentially having strangers come to their house. For those of us lucky enough to work from home (whether that home office is an actually office, a table in the living room, or even just sitting in an empty bathtub, which I can tell you is not that comfortable), the challenge is even more complex in some ways – yes, we are home and don’t necessarily need someone to watch the kids all day long or at all, depending on their age, but trying to juggle serious work and taking care of the kids’ needs during remote learning hours (printing pages, bringing snacks or water, reconnecting after a lost connection) can still be more than a handful.
Nonetheless, their needs during learning hours can be satisfied in a way that it is less taxing on us parents, even without any outside help. It’s all pretty basic too – just preparation and getting ready in advance.
Below are some of my simple and affordable ideas to keep kids happy and engaged (and out of your hair while you are on Zoom calls!). None of these are sponsored links – these are really just my favorites!
I am sure my morning prep is the same as everyone elses, but just in case – after sufficiently being caffeinated, I make breakfast for the kids while they wake and dress, fill their waterbottles with water, make sure their computers are connected and turned on, log onto Zoom ready for them to press join, air their bedrooms for a couple of minutes to make sure there is some fresh air, check Google Classroom for any last minute printouts or notes, and check for emails from the teachers – all of this takes just 5-10 minutes but reduces interruptions by at least 50% in my experience.
My kids are always looking for snacks between classes – and while I don’t mind them having some sweets or cookies occasionally, I don’t want them raiding the snack drawer while I am on a conference call. I put all the unhealties in a box, moved the box into a closet, and put a container of healthy snacks into the drawer. I filled the container with some of my new and old favorites – fruit and vegetable pouches (such as ones from Plum Organics or budget but delicious versions from Trader Joes) fruit bars and squares (again, from Trader Joes and Plum Organics). I am also going to try Cerebelly bars and pouches with the kids as those too are made with brainpower-boosting ingredients.
I put some other favorites into the fridge for them in case they look for yogurt or similar refrigerated snacks – Once Upon a Farm pouches, yogurts, and smoothies are super fresh, organic, and totally delicious! Easy for them to open and healthy and quick between classes. Then there are the Organic Valley or Whole Foods brand cheese sticks – easy to open and quick to eat (although my little one occasionally still struggles with getting the wrapper off the cheese stick).
Of course there are always bananas, apples, carrots, and other fresh fruit and veggies around, but I find my kids want something fast and easy to eat during the 2-3 minute breaks if I am not available to help.
If you are like me and had been using the dinner table for homework but found yourself needing new furniture to enable your kids to homeschool, look no further than IKEA. We spent a few hundred dollars at IKEA and got everything we needed – good quality, affordable, easy to assemble and clean, and simple in design that goes with everything. We got two Micke desks, Loberget Chairs, and Alex Drawer Units – super simple!
Then there are the longer breaks -lunch and tech-fail breaks. What do your kids do after they eat or have an unscheduled break if their Zoom is out? We have a small table in one corner of the living room – I put some puzzles out, paper and color pencils (I am partial to those in tin boxes, such as Staedtler, to make clean up easier), as well as Boogie Boards to reduce paper usage. For learning activities, Todo Math and Khan Academy are my favorites, along with the kids’ monthly KiwiCo boxes.
Keep it simple and easy!
And let’s hope we are almost through this!!
Happy New Year!
This content was originally published here.