Home, learning, productivity, Special Needs

Working from home with kids

How fast our world has changed in just a few short weeks the COVID-19 pandemic that was on the news affecting other countries has arrived and Australia is one of the last countries with a chance to ‘flatten the curve’. We’re blessed to have the ability to work from home and job security when many cannot and have lost their jobs. I’ve been working from home/sick the past week or so and have kept my typical-germ-collector daughter home from school showing mild flu-like symptoms (aka she would sneeze and so we kept her home to err on the side of over-caution).

Controversially, we’ve decided to keep our special needs daughter in school for as long as possible and keep the carers, therapists going even though she is a technically high risk. Now I know the majority of special needs parents have made the early decision to self-isolate, however for us we’ve weighed it up and it would be almost impossible for me to work from home if I had to look after her. Looking at the risks, she hasn’t had respiratory issues in the past because of her excellent gag reflex. Her exposure to germs is minimal and can be controlled as she’s in a special school with about 5 students in her class and with high teacher to student ratio. I trust they are adhering to good hygiene standards, so is very unlikely to get sick. Now in the coming days, however, I won’t be surprised if further restrictions will be imposed. [Update 26/3/20: next week is now a pupil free week in QLD. The resource list below has been updated with additional ideas from our Speech Therapist and her Special Needs Teachers for adapting these resources to be used with a switch].

Last week my younger had a few days off school and so we have had some time to adjust to her being at home and attempting to continue some sort of resemblance of learning. Which consisted of me setting a schedule and my daughter doing half the agreed worksheets and then spending the rest of the day on the tv or playing on her own whilst I was busy working at home or resting (from being sick). The meltdowns are now becoming less and less as we’ve both worked out our daily rhythms and started to accept this new normal.

This week I received some links to our state education learning@home site which has enough work for 2 weeks across Maths, English and Science. I printed the handwriting booklet and she finished it in less than an hour in order to get her reward of TV. That night I thought perhaps I better get a head start on this, but was dismayed to find mostly printable workbooks and other resources that looked more like teacher lesson plans which required me to actually teach her and not only that, looking at the rest of the material it was barely enough to keep her occupied for 2 weeks!

If I wanted to make this work from home thing work then I would need to have more activities prepared, so ideally I can set her up and she can self learn.

I put the call out to my mummies Facebook group for more resources and what a huge response I’ve had. There are so many amazing resources out there and most are free, and those that are are currently running specials because of the unprecedented covid-19 restrictions.

Firstly here are my learnings so far – please comment below if you have others, would love to hear it.

Tips for working from home with kids

1. Set up a Computer /device

I repurposed an old computer (yes I know not everyone has one) and means that only the apps and programs that I want them to access is there:

  • Set up a kids email address eg gmail. This can be used to set up new login accounts or subscribe to online learning. I like using gmail with chrome because it has bookmarks that sync across devices.
  • Windows computers – set up a new Windows account with your child’s email. You can now also use this a non-hotmail account with your Windows account. Once you have an account login to the admin account and add another user so that they can sign into the computer.
  • Headphones/ ear buds – will assist with reducing noise if they are playing a game or watching a video.

3. Ensure your printer has a lot of paper and ink

A lot of the initial resources I came across are printable worksheets.

4. Set up a study ‘school’ desk/area that is designated for school

Just like you need your designated work area to get into the right mindset for work, so does your child. Keep in mind that younger kids like to work next to you; older kids might like to study in their own area.

b. Tip: Give them a choice about the materials and how they set it up.

5. Set up a schedule and program ahead of time so that they can learn largely on their own. Some tips

a. Have a schedule – even if you don’t stick to it. It will take some time to settle into a routine and to get used to being in the same house. Kids love routine with all the uncertainty and change, get them involved in creating it and try to keep it similar to the school schedule they are used to – if you have certain subjects on certain days then allocate the same timeslots for those subjects.

b. Compare it to your work schedule and needed schedule in time for breaks with them

Tip: schedule a time to ‘mark’ their worksheets. This stops them coming to you every 5min I’m done! Now mark it now! Put it in a marking pile and mark them at the allocated time. They love positive feedback – use stickers/stamps or write ‘well done’ if they get it to write just like they would at school.

c. Take your breaks with them and change it up eg. have a picnic on the grass

d. Be flexible, at the start they might do one or two things on it then the rest of the day end up watching tv, that’s ok, keep what’s working and try to challenge them to do more tomorrow.

e. Be creative – below is a list of online resources and ideas, but science doesn’t have to be a boring lesson, it could be making jelly together and talking about science concepts. Or going into the garden to explore the bugs and then looking up documentaries/google videos to help you understand what they are.

f. Measure the amount of time they do spend on each activity and then update the plan for the next day.

g. For younger kids, set up activity stations in advance or kits that you bring out one at a time and have double what you think you will need. Then cycle through them. Use those educational tv programs – ‘Art’ for us is an episode of Mister Maker or googling how to draw online, then they try to copy it. Check-in on them and then get them working on the next one.

h. Plan something fun to help them to look forward to it … or can be used as a reward ie you finish x worksheets/ books, then you get to watch y.

i. Schedule some active time and eat healthy food. See the Sports section for ideas of activities. I’ve scheduled in my breaks to align to ‘Sport’ – currently, we’re doing skipping together since it’s new she’ll only attempt it when I’m around.

j. Use the opportunity to make memories, teach them a skill and also get involved with chores around the house. Aside: Good luck with the chores – I would also love some tips. Currently trying the 5c a chore (teaches money, saving, setting goals, the value of money, makes it tangible and visual).

k. Create an environment for focus. Still getting distracted, and finding it hard to focus? Some areas to look at experimenting with to help you and your family to focus.

6. Pack their lunch as normal in the morning

This means that if you’re in meetings they can just eat out of their lunch box, and then run around in the backyard. It also reduces time in having to pack your own.

7. Get dressed in the morning for work and school as you normally would

This will help get you in the ‘working’ mindset.

Resource – some notes before using them

So here’s the massive list of websites that I’ve received and come across from other mums that are teachers and another long list from an American mum that homeschools her children.

Once you have your schedule, look at the subject and then choose one or two resources to use. The parent-teacher resources are broad sites that offer sheets, activities and scheduling tools to assist with this as well.

I’m also starting to curate this to be more aligned to the Australian curriculum so sites helping with studying for SAT exams have been excluded.
My plan is to print some booklets and worksheets the night before and tomorrow I’ll get some more craft supplies so that there is a stack of English, Maths, Craft, Colouring up my sleeve. Then have some apps/ website subscription activities to try.
Tip: space out the free subscriptions from each subject. eg reading eggs is one-month free subscription, so if you’re using that then wait till this is finished before selecting the next English website free subscription.

I’m also starting to look ahead to the days when we will need to keep my older daughter at home, and also for over the school holidays for special needs resources. So have started to curate a special needs list – this can also be used to assist with early childhood development.

Let me know if you come across other sites you have found useful and I’ll continue to refine and add to this list.

Resource List – per subject

Home school/ surviving 1-2 months

Parent/Teacher resources/lessons

o 300,000+ FREE printable worksheets from toddlers to teens https://www.123homeschool4me.com/home-school-free-printabl…/

o ClickSchooling brings you daily recommendations by email for entertaining websites that help your kids learn. https://clickschooling.com/

o Math as a fun part of your daily family routine http://bedtimemath.org/

o Online education program for toddler through high school… https://www.khanacademy.org/

o Daily lessons and educational activities that kids can do on their own https://www.superchargedschool.com/

o Resources for AP students https://marcolearning.com/

o Curricular content hub specifically designed for K-3 students.

o https://pebblego.com/free-pebblego-capstone-interactive-acc…

o Free Printables for PreK-2nd Grade https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/…/Lite…/Price-Range/Free

o Free printables library with activities for children 0-6 https://www.littlesparkcompany.com/printables-library

o PreK-12 digital media service with more than 30,000 learning materials https://www.pbslearningmedia.org/

o Every course you could possibly want to homeschool for high school https://allinonehighschool.com/

o Alcumus is specifically designed to provide high-performing students with a challenging curriculum appropriate to their abilities https://artofproblemsolving.com/alcumus

o Education for kids all topics https://www.ducksters.com

o A collection of hundreds of free K-12 STEM resources, from standalone models and simulations to short activities and week long sequences of curriculum materials. https://learn.concord.org/

o Entertaining & educational videos for all levels and subjects https://www.izzit.org/index.php

o Online homeschool platform & curriculum for Pre-K to 12th grade. All main subjects are covered, plus extra-curriculum courses. http://discoveryk12.com/dk12/

o Digital learning content for preschool through high school https://www.curriki.org/

o Day-by-day projects to keep kids reading, thinking, and growing. https://classroommagazines.scholastic.com/…/learnathome.html

o Classes for older teens or adults https://www.thegreatcoursesplus.com/lp/t1/freemo…

Toddlers/ young children:

Art

Sport

  • Playing in the backyard – Skipping, catching bubbles, kicking a ball, shooting hoops, hula hooping, skateboarding
  • Youtube cosmic yoga for kids – Listen and reenact a story with yoga poses – they have various movies such as Frozen, Moana and quickly move between positions to keep their attention span.
  • Free at-home kids yoga lesson plans https://littletwistersyoga.com/online-store/
  • Kid-friendly workouts — choose from Strength for Kids, Agility for Kids, Flexibility and Balance for Kids, Warm-Up for Kids, Cooldown for Kids, Stand Up and Move for Kids, OR create your own custom kid workout. https://app.sworkit.com/collections/kids-workouts
  • Movement and mindfulness videos created by child development experts. https://www.gonoodle.com/

English

Maths – Junior

Maths – high school

Religion

Languages

Music / Drama

Home Economics/ Cooking

Technology/learning to code

Geography/ History/ Virtual tours

Science

Finance/ Economics

Special needs / accessible

Life skills

Study tools – for the older kids

  • For students to practice and master whatever they are learning. https://quizlet.com/
  • A safe research site for elementary-level readers. They are offering — free 24/7 access

USERNAME: read (case sensitive)

PASSWORD: read (case sensitive)

https://www.facts4me.com/

Free time

Higher learning

1 thought on “Working from home with kids”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s