Welcome to the first week of our Curious Little Monkeys Homeschool Schedule! To get the most out of this, grab a cuppa and sit down and first read the Guidance For Parents and Implementing Activities info in this article, then be inspired by the Activities (separate post, released every Sunday) and print the Weekly Timetable from the bottom of that post. When you have completed these three steps your family will be set up for a whole week of relaxed, fun learning!
These schedules have been created by Laura McCartney, qualified primary school teacher, homeschooling Mum of 4 and founder of Curious Little Monkeys homeschool learning group. Laura has ample experience from all necessary angles- as a classroom teacher, as a relaxed homeschooler and as leader of structured yet gentle learning classes. She has brought together all of the best aspects of her experience to create these timetables and the activities within them, so we hope it is helpful to you all.
The schedules have also been created by Hannah Canavan, homeschooling mum of 3 and founder of this website Adventure Travel Family. Hannah has been writing about all aspects of homeschooling, gentle parenting and family travel for years and previously worked in behavioural management at a Pupil Referral Unit.
There will be a new schedule every week released on Sunday evening on the Homeschooling During Coronavirus Facebook group, and the following information is absolutely essential for those who would like to use it:
Guidance For Parents
There are two main things to consider while using the schedules; these things are particularly important in the current climate.
The first thing we’d like to highlight is that this kind of home learning has never, ever been done before. We have never had literally millions of people thrust into this situation overnight with no preparation, a biological hazard and unprecedented stress from all angles.
What most parents will experience over the next few months is entirely unique to the Coronavirus pandemic; it is not how we usually homeschool and we as home educators will be working constantly to create and develop an entirely new model for this demographic. The schedules we have put together are, in our opinion, an excellent basis for this kind of home education.
This is because the schedules are structured yet flexible, with activities that are both fun and educational and they are adaptable for every family and every primary-aged child’s individual needs. It is impossible to create a one-size-fits-all routine and especially difficult to do this when a lot of parents will also be working from home, but we think we have come up with something that all parents can work with at some level.
Home educators work from home too, in fact MOST do! So we know the struggle of getting things done with the children around. Look for opportunities in the schedule to get on with something yourself.
Remember home education does not have to happen during school hours so although we have put times in, it might be that you adjust them to account for a conference call at 11am each day for example. It might also be the case that you use ‘weekend’ days in the week so that some ‘school’ days happen when another adult is home at the weekend, allowing you valuable work time and giving them plenty to keep busy.
The second point is about how you use the timetables. Our goal in creating them is to take the majority of the brain work out of the week for you (we know it can be overwhelming trawling through all the resources online) and to provide your children with an enjoyable education while they are out of school.
Most parents we are speaking to online want a daily routine that they can use to structure their days. This is a great way to keep some form of normality for children who are used to school routines, as well as a way of organising the day simply for parents. Our weekly schedules cover numeracy, literacy, science, art and other key primary subjects in a gentle and enjoyable way.
We have placed in the routine breakfast, lunch, snack and dinner times as we find that working around physiology is a good way to know when kids will respond best to different kinds of activities (for example it is great for mental health to start the day with exercise so we have arranged this, and when they have just eaten they may be a little sleepy while digesting so we place creative, less academic activities after lunch).
It is important that you see all of the activities and times on this schedule as guidelines or suggestions, not as something you have to ‘stick to’ or ‘complete’. If your child isn’t interested in something and doesn’t respond to gentle encouragement to try it, you will find that they have a better learning experience if you adapt to what they are interested in.
Feel free to switch the times of the activities, let children take a lot longer on one thing than is scheduled if they are enjoying it (they’ll be learning the whole time) or swap an activity for something entirely different. If your child’s school has sent home work for them to, by all means pop this into your schedule instead of some of the suggestions.
Some children may want to delve deeper into activities on a more academic level and some children may focus more on the playing aspect of an activity- this is all great, let them experience it in their own way and adapt it for your child’s needs and ability.
Implementing The Activities
The following is information on how to implement each of the activities on the schedule- (once you have seen the activities list in Homeschool Activities Week 2 and printed your schedule this will make more sense).
PE with Joe Wicks: We assume you have access to this activity via the internet, it is streamed on the Body Coach Youtube Channel. If you don’t then just have an hour of outdoor activity time and use these physical activity ideas.
Chapter book: Please pick something appropriate and interesting for your child. If they an independent reader than they’ll be able to do this themselves, if not it becomes a read together or read aloud task.
Literacy: We’ve used Reading Eggs as an example of a great online literacy resource that covers reading, writing, spelling and phonics. If Reading Eggs is not an ability-appropriate program for your child please choose an alternative program from the great list of resources we have listed in the resource thread located under Announcements in our Facebook support group (click ‘See All’ to have the thread drop down).
The literacy tasks can easily be adapted for different abilities; if the text isn’t suitable for your needs please choose a different one with great descriptions or whatever the weekly focus is. An adjective alphabet can be extended by then writing expanded noun phrases (Google it!). A creature design can be accompanied by a detailed description of physical and character traits using the previous work as a prompt…you get the gist!
Numeracy: Here we suggest you begin each session with the 5-a-day which are simply five sums- one each of addition, subtraction, multiplication and division plus one ‘other’. This can be easily pitched at the right level for your child, gradually increasingly in difficulty.
You can prepare these the night before (or even a week at a time). Encourage lots of different methods (they should show their working or explain what they did). Number lines, hundred squares, maths cubes and a mini whiteboard might be useful. Older children might enjoy setting and ‘marking’ the questions for younger siblings.
Here’s an example of ‘5 a day’:
- Draw an octagon
For the online numeracy sessions we have recommended Mathletics, but feel free to substitute it with something from the resources thread in our support group. For the numeracy tasks, extend them easily by using bigger numbers, by adding an extra level to questions: what if there were 12 of those orders? What if it was half price? How much change from £10?
Teamwork Time: This is how you get the housework done when you home educate! It’s vital to function as a team, especially in the current climate. This also gets children gently active again after lunch.
Give the children jobs to do that will shorten your list of chores. They can make beds, care for pets, unload the dishwasher, put clean clothes away, hoover, wipe surfaces, set/clear tables, tidy toys away, supervise younger siblings, prepare vegetables for dinner as is appropriate.
Just because they might not currently, doesn’t mean they can’t! Make this part of your new normal and teach them valuable life skills at the same time. Spray bottles always act as extra encouragement for little ones- and for tiny tots, hand them a spray bottle with water and a cloth and let them clean their toys!
Reflection: We have included a peaceful transition into the afternoon tasks. Calm music would help set the tone for mindfulness and reflection. We recommend you prepare a folder of mindfulness colouring activities, handwriting sheets and pencil control activities (Twinkl has lots and is offering free membership to all).
Children will enjoy making their own choices. These activities will be great for developing fine motor skills and improving handwriting.
Art, Science and Lego: These should all be self-explanatory. Some will inevitably take longer than the time slot. You can leave your child happily occupied and move everything back slightly or cut something to use another day. Be flexible and follow their lead.
Project: It would be wonderful to facilitate self-led learning for the children’s projects. We recommend preparing a resource box for them to dip into during these sessions. Ideally this would include a selection of books on the topic, some printed articles or magazines, themed worksheets and activities (go to Twinkl and search for your topic) plus materials to allow them to get creative such as blank paper and craft supplies.
Weekly wind down: This is a chance for children to revisit anything they haven’t finished and would like to or indeed anything they are keen to extend or repeat.
If you would like more activities to do with your children check out the list of homeschool activities posts in the homeschooling blog posts section! These are inspired by the activities from the Curious Little Monkeys homeschool group.