Within the past week, in a somewhat surreal turn of events, thousands of families across PA have found themselves temporary homeschoolers. Whether you’re overwhelmed at this drastic change, stressed about keeping up, or scared about the uncertainty, we at the Pennsylvania Family Institute are here to offer some advice on how to make the most of this time.
As crazy as the world may seem right now, we are confident that God will use everything for His glory. One major silver lining is the unprecedented time to spend with family as we all socially distance. Our newest staff member and veteran homeschooler, Lexi, is here to offer some resources and tips for homeschooling and creatively keeping kids entertained during the quarantine.
Remember to have grace with yourself. When I started homeschooling in 5th grade, it took months, if not years, for my family and I to find out what worked best for us and develop a good routine. You’re only in a temporary season and things won’t be perfect. That’s ok! Just do your best and accept that learning can look different for different kids. You’re doing great, trust me.
- Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) offers free resources and support to homeschooling your children, including help with encouragement and setting goals.
- PragerU has an assortment of informational and engaging videos for the whole family.
- Khan Academy has great and free lesson videos to help with explaining difficult concepts.
- Focus on the Family offers general homeschooling resources as well as a plethora of resources for families during covid-19, including relationship support and family devotionals.
- A Better Way to Homeschool, which is written by a homeschool mom, offering a quick “get started” 7 week kit for families who find themselves unexpectedly homeschooling!
- Scholastic offers a wide array of fun learning at home projects.
- DreamBox Learning, which is a K-8 online math program that looks at how a student is solving problems to adjust accordingly and build a unique learning path for them. You can get 90 days for free!
Entertainment While Social Distancing
You don’t need me to tell you that it can be a challenge to find activities that are both productive and entertaining for kids, but thankfully there are a ton of great options and resources. Say hello to hours of free fun, all from the comfort of your own home!
Baking and Cooking
What better way to learn about measurements, fractions, and scientific reactions? It is fun, tangible, and satisfying to learn through baking and a great family activity. Plus, the resulting yummy treat is always a welcomed reward to a well learned lesson! Check out some resources: Washington Parent and The Homeschool Scientist both have great articles about utilizing cooking and baking as teaching tools.
Virtual Field Trips
Plenty of museums and zoos offer virtual tours, which is a fun way to learn and explore.
- Pennsylvania Zoo Virtual Experiences
- Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam
- National Gallery of Art
- The Houston Zoo
- The Great Wall of China
- Discovery Education virtual tours
- The San Diego Zoo
- Monterey Bay Aquarium
- The Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden live streams “home safaris” every day at 3pm on their Facebook page, along with fun activities you can do at home.
Adventures in Odyssey (Radio Drama)
If you have never listened, Focus on the Family is offering a free 4 week trial to the radio drama, Adventures in Odyssey. You can access over 900 episodes. Click here for a free trial.
- YourStoryHour.com, which offers free stories each day!
- Check out these free pro-life coloring sheets for kids: https://www.prolifekids.com/downloadables/. This is a great way to have conversations with your kids about the sanctity and value of human life.
- Busy Toddler, which has over 40 indoor activity ideas for busy toddlers.
- Epic, is a digital library of children’s books. There is currently a free 30 day trial – and students may be able to get free access from their teacher. Additionally, many local libraries allow you to stream audio books for all ages through apps like Libby, Overdrive and Hoopla.
- FunBrain, which offers free math and reading games for kids.
Of course, being quarantined with your immediate family will naturally lead to bonding. However, you can use this time to be especially intentional about cultivating closeness.
The Thankfulness Challenge
It’s easy to lose sight of all we have to be thankful for during times of so much uncertainty. As a family, choose one thing each day you are thankful for and celebrate it!
Be as creative as you want: maybe you are especially thankful for pancakes, so make it “Pancake Day” where you cook pancakes together, learn about their history, and thank God for giving us small joys and good food. You could also choose days to be thankful for each person in your household and affirm and celebrate them on their “day.”
This is an opportunity to spread some positivity on social media! Use the #ThankfulnessChallenge hashtag and tag PFI, we would love to see what you come up with!
If you’re not already, start a daily devotional time as a family. This is a fantastic opportunity to get perspective, reflect on God’s truth, and pray. It is also a great way to incorporate a new routine and have something special to look forward to each day.
Check out Minno which is a “Church at Home” for families that offers worship songs, devotionals, and Bible videos.
Some of my family’s most cherished memories come from our family reading time when my mom would read a book aloud to the whole family. Please note that some kids are kinesthetic learners and may learn best when playing or moving. So don’t let active or wiggly kids deter you from doing a family reading time; they may absorb the story better if doing something else while listening.
Make a list of extended family or friends you want to reach out to and make plans to call each of them. We can still reach and talk to our community and loved ones. What better time to catch up?