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If your child's school closes, don't panic: Here's a list of homeschooling resources

Bookmark this list of resources and ideas for coronavirus-related school closures.

homeschooling when school is closed

Parents across the country are facing unprecedented school closures as part of the ongoing effort to contain the coronavirus. By the most recent estimates, at least 72,000 of the 98,000 public schools in the U.S. have been impacted by school closures.

Without knowing how long these school closures may last, it can feel hard to prepare. Improvising on a snow day is one thing—longer school closures call for creative planning on the part of schools and parents alike.

Every family will have to find a solution that works best for them, but here are some guidelines and resources for homeschooling during school closures.

In this article:

Learning at home: Where to start

How to create a homeschool routine

Resources for learning at home

Fun ways to keep kids busy at home

Learning at home: Where to start

Learning at home: Where to start

Communicate with your child's teacher

If you haven't already signed up for email communication from your child's school, now's the time. Teachers across the country are scrambling to prepare and execute lesson plans that can be taught remotely. Now is a great time to check in with your child's teacher to see if there is anything in particular your child needs to work on—and to say a heartfelt thanks for all they do.

Start slow

You don't have to launch right in with a full-fledged 8-hour curriculum of activities, videos and worksheets for your kids. If you want to use this time to slow down and connect as a family, that is a worthwhile choice, too. Especially if you have a younger child, don't be afraid to just make this a time to focus on being together as a family and having fun. While no one would ever choose this situation, it may present a unique opportunity to spend time together as a family.

Remember kids learn from play

Learning doesn't have to take the form of worksheets and spelling tests. Young children have such a strong desire for knowledge. If you can trust them to lead the way, you may be surprised by how they choose to spend their time and where their curiosity takes them. And you don't need a degree in education to teach your children valuable skills through family activities:

  • Play board games
  • Do puzzles
  • Cook together
  • Plant a spring garden
  • Use butcher paper to draw a life-size family portrait

Each and every one of these activities are educational for children, without mimicking school.

How to create a homeschool routine

How to create a homeschool routine

Start with the basics

One of the most important things you can do for your child (and yourself!) is to form a routine early. What will your days at home look like? Take a few minutes to write out a rough schedule. It could look something like this:

  • Snuggles, breakfast and getting dressed
  • Reading together as a family
  • Practicing any school assignments or work you choose for your child
  • Outside play
  • Lunch (and nap if applicable)
  • Afternoon playtime

This is just one example—your daily plan could look totally different. It might feel weird to write a schedule for a day at home, but young children really crave routine and it will help them if they know what to expect. Besides, having a schedule is much easier than trying to sneak in work throughout the day while you half-play with your child.

Set expectations

Remember, your children learn without you all day long at school—and they can do it at home, too, with a little help. While you may (okay, will) encounter some resistance at first, your children will quickly get used to the expectation that, for instance, they play independently after breakfast while you get some work done.

Be flexible

One of the beauties of homeschooling, even in these bizarre circumstances, is flexibility. If you'd planned to do a math activity with your child but they are super into building a complex Lego creation, let them build. Having time off from school is a great opportunity for them to practice choosing what to work on themselves and to experience the deep concentration that follows.

Start with a plan, if for no other reason than to ease your own anxiety, but be open to the unexpected places your day could go and the unique ways your own child learns. Don't forget how much learning comes from play!

For more help creating a homeschool routine during school closures:

Resources for learning at home

Resources for learning at home

Schools across the country are mobilizing for an unprecedented shift to remote learning, with educators and administrators working to make educational resources available while school is closed, through activity packets, online learning resources and digital classrooms.

In addition to what your child's teacher provides, there are hundreds of exciting online resources at your disposal. It can take some time to sort through them, but it is certainly easier than starting from scratch!

For early learners

5 reading games to play with your child: Reading together is one of the best (and most fun) ways parents can help young children learn.

12 easy science activities to do with your child: Easy STEM-based projects you can do at home will help kids explore their world and master basic scientific concepts.

15 math activities you can do at home: You don't have to be an expert mathematician to introduce math concepts to your children.

10 music activities that help boost learning: Ask any teacher: Music is a great educational tool for creating a calm classroom, releasing stress and helping kids focus.

49 Montessori-inspired indoor activities: Kids crave projects and activities that they can complete independently (once you show them how).

28 educational apps for toddlers, preschoolers + elementary school kids: Don't feel bad about loosening your restrictions around screen time right now, mama.

For elementary school learners

Scholastic Learn at Home: The editors of the beloved Scholastic classroom magazines have created an online hub full of learning materials for grades Pre-K through 6.

150+ Enrichment Activities for Children While Parents are Working Remotely: Compiled by educators and parents, this spreadsheet of educational activities for kids of all ages has gone viral, and for good reason.

Outschool: Your child can join virtual classes on subjects from language to math to music theory (with Legos!) on this video learning platform.

150+ Educational Shows on Netflix: This list from Homeschool Hideout, a community resource site run by a homeschooling mom, is a great resource for independent educational screen time.

Clever Learner: Find dozens of printable worksheets that help teach basic math, writing, science and language skills.

Teachers pay teachers: While not specifically designed for homeschool, these resources are inexpensive, developed by teachers, and span a wide array of subjects and learning levels.

Brainly: Get homework help from real students and teachers on this site, which enables students to ask questions and get detailed answers on most topics.

Fun ways to keep kids busy at home

keep kids busy at home

It's more important than ever to build in time for joy and play. Fortunately for us parents trying to keep kids busy and engaged at home during extended social distancing, parks, artists, companies and institutions are putting their collective creativity to good use, offering free virtual experiences.

Check our constantly-growing list of virtual activities for you and your children to enjoy while spending time at home, including these great online resources for keeping kids busy.

Read a book with Olaf: Frozen actor Josh Gad is tucking kids in at night with bedtime stories. Every night the actor is reading to little ones on Twitter.

Ride Space Mountain: Online ride-through videos for all the rides at Disney World and Disneyland aren't quite as cool as the real thing, but we'll take what we can get.

Doodle with Mo Willems: Every weekday at 1 pm ET, award-winning children's book author and illustrator Mo Willems is conducting an online sketch session for kids.

Learn science from real meteorologists: The Weather Channel is dedicating time during each hour of live programming at :50 past the hour to share educational content; catch their clips here.

Tour national parks from your couch: Google Earth has virtual tours of America's treasured national parks.

Cook with real chefs and cookbook authors: America's Test Kitchen has opened up its library of educational cooking videos for aspiring young chefs.

Play with animals at the zoo. The Cincinnati Zoo may be closed to the public at the moment, but it's open online for animal-lovers, thanks to a new Facebook video series that shows how zoologists care for animals at the zoo, weekdays at 3 pm.

Subscription boxes: From geography to art to coding, subscription boxes can help you fill extra hours at home with educational and engaging activities for your kids, without the need to scour Pinterest.

How to make screen time beneficial: More time at home will mean more screen time for many, and that's okay. Here's how to make it beneficial for your kiddos!

Each family will need to make their own decision about what to do in the event of a school closure. Your child's age and academic needs, your availability to work with them, and the length of the school closure will all play a role in how you decide to spend this time. Just trust that you know best what's right for your child and your family in these challenging circumstances. You've got this, mama!

The one thing your family needs to practice gratitude

And a tradition you'll want to keep for years.

Gracious Gobbler

I think I can speak for well, basically everyone on planet earth when I say things have been a bit stressful lately. Juggling virtual school, work and the weight of worry about all the things, it's increasingly difficult to take even a moment to be grateful and positive these days. It's far easier to fall into a grump cycle, nagging my kids for all the things they didn't do (after being asked nine times), snapping at their bickering and never really acknowledging the good stuff.

But the truth is, gratitude and appreciation is the kind of medicine we need now more than ever—and not just because the season is upon us. For one thing, practicing gratitude is a scientifically proven way to boost our happiness, health and relationships. More importantly, we need to ensure we're cultivating it in our children even when things are challenging. Especially when things are challenging.

I'm ready to crank the thankfulness up a few dozen notches and reboot our family's gratitude game so we can usher out 2020 on a fresh note. So, I've called in some reinforcements.

Enter: the Gracious Gobbler.

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14 Toys that will keep your kids entertained inside *and* outside

They transition seamlessly for indoor play.

With Labor day weekend in the rearview and back-to-school in full swing, most parents are fresh out of boxes to check on their "Fun Concierge" hit list. It's also the point of diminishing returns on investing in summer-only toys. So with that in mind, we've rounded up some of our favorite toys that are not only built to last but will easily make the transition from outdoor to indoor play. Even better, they're Montessori-friendly and largely open-ended so your kids can get a ton of use out of them.

From sunny backyard afternoons to rainy mornings stuck inside, these toys are sure to keep little ones engaged and entertained.

Wooden doll stroller

Janod wooden doll strollerWooden Doll Stroller

Take their charges on a stroll around the block with this classic doll stroller. With the same versatility they're used to in their own ride, this heirloom quality carriage allows their doll or stuffy to face them or face the world.

$120

Detective set

Plan Toys detective setDetective Set

This set has everything your little detective needs to solve whatever mystery they might encounter: an eye glasses, walkie-talkie, camera, a red lens, a periscope and a bag. Neighborhood watch? Watch out.

$40

Sand play set

Plan Toys sand set

Whether you're hitting the beach or the backyard sandbox, this adorable wooden sand set is ready for action. Each scoop has an embossed pattern that's perfect for sand stamping. They're also totally suitable for water play in the wild or the bathtub.

$30

Water play set

Plan Toys water play set

Filled with sand or water, this tabletop sized activity set keeps little ones busy, quiet and happy. (A mama's ideal trifecta 😉). It's big enough to satisfy their play needs but not so big it's going to flood your floors if you bring the fun inside on a rainy day.

$100

Mini golf set

Plan Toys mini golf set

Fore! This mini golf set is lawn and living room ready. Set up a backyard competition or incorporate into homeschooling brain breaks that shift focus and build concentration.

$40

Vintage scooter balance bike

Janod retro scooter balance bike

Pedals are so 2010. Balance bikes are the way to go for learning to ride a bike while skipping the training wheels stage altogether. This impossibly cool retro scooter-style is built to cruise the neighborhood or open indoor space as they're learning.

$121

Wooden rocking pegasus

plan toys wooden rocking pegasus

Your little will be ready to take flight on this fun pegasus. It gently rocks back and forth, but doesn't skimp on safety—its winged saddle, footrests and backrest ensure kids won't fall off whether they're rocking inside or outside.

$100

Croquet set

Plan Toys croquet set

The cutest croquet set we've ever seen! With adorable animal face wooden balls and a canvas bag for easy clean up, it's also crafted to stick around awhile. Round after round, it's great for teaching kiddos math and problem-solving skills as well.

$45

Wooden digital camera

fathers factory wooden digital camera

Kids get the chance to assemble the camera on their own then can adventure anywhere to capture the best moments. With two detachable magnetic lenses, four built-in filters and video recorder, your little photographer can tap into their creativity from summertime to the holidays.

$179

Wooden bulldozer toy

plan toys wooden bulldozer toy

Whether they're digging up sand in the backyad or picking up toys inside, kids can get as creative as they want picking up and moving things around. Even better? Its wooden structure means it's not an eye sore to look at wherever your digger drops it.

$100

Pull-along hippo

janod toys pull along hippo toy

There's just something so fun about a classic pull-along toy and we love that they seamlessly transition between indoor and outdoor play. Crafted from solid cherry and beechwood, it's tough enough to endure outdoor spaces your toddler takes it on.

$33

Baby forest fox ride-on

janod toys baby fox ride on

Toddlers will love zooming around on this fox ride-on, and it's a great transition toy into traditional balance bikes. If you take it for a driveway adventure, simply use a damp cloth to wipe down the wheels before bringing back inside.

$88

Balance board

Plan Toys balance board

Balance boards are a fabulous way to get the wiggles out. This one comes with a rope attachment, making it suitable for even the youngest wigglers. From practicing their balance and building core strength to working on skills that translate to skateboarding and snowboarding, it's a year-round physical activity that's easy to bring inside and use between Zoom classes, too!

$75

Meadow ring toss game

Plan Toys meadow ring toss game

Besides offering a fantastic opportunity to hone focus, coordination, determination and taking turns, lawn games are just plain fun. Set them up close together for the littles and spread them out when Mom and Dad get in on the action. With their low profile and rope rings, they're great for indoors as well.

$30

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Dear 2020 baby: Thank you

This year has been a mess. But you've been the light in the darkness.

Sweet 2020 baby,

I just want to say thank you.

Because in many ways, this year has been a mess.

A bit of a disaster, really.

But you.

You've been the light in the darkness.

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