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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!

14 sweet 'just thinking of you' gifts for every mama

A sweet surprise that tells her you've been thinking of her might be the pick-me-up she needs.

Who says you have to wait for birthdays or holidays to give your bestie a great gift? A sweet surprise that tells her you've been thinking of her might be the pick-me-up she needs in these more-than-trying times. We've rounded up some of our favorite go-to gifts that are certain to be a bright spot in her week. But be warned, you may want to snag a few for yourself. (You deserve it, mama.)

Here are some our favorite "just because" gifts to give our hardworking mama friends.

New Mother face + body care duo

volition face + body care duo

This correcting oil and stretch mark minimizer is perfect for the pregnant mama looking to keep her pregnancy glow. The correcting oil brightens the skin while reducing dark spots, and the stretch mark minimizer works to smooth her ever-growing belly.

$70

Allover roller

esker allover roller

This jade roller goes beyond your typical face roller and can be used anywhere on the body. It works to increase stimulation and reduce puffiness and is perfect for applying any oils to the face or body. Plus, it feels like a mini spa treatment.

$65

Kombucha making kit

farmsteady kombucha making kit

What could be a more perfect gift for the health-obsessed friend? This kombucha making kit comes with everything you need to brew your own homemade green tea kombucha. They'll think this is the tastiest gift ever.

$45

Laetitia lipstick

cupid & psyche laetitia

This red lipstick is perfect for your makeup enthusiast bestie who is looking to spruce up her life in quarantine. Crafted in the United States, these bee and vegan-friendly and cruelty-free lipsticks are created to flatter all complexions. Cupid and Psyche Beauty makes finding the perfect red lip way too easy!

$23

Jigsaw puzzle

inner piecec jigsaw puzzle

Mamas need to destress now more than ever during quarantine. This adorable jigsaw puzzle is perfect for the mama who needs a brain break! The 500-piece puzzle designed by artist Ray Oranges features an abstract gradient design that fits a standard frame when completed. Bonus: It's printed on recycled paper and the company donates $1 from every puzzle sold to youth mindfulness programs.

$30

Matilda's Bloombox

matilda's bloombox

If we have to be stuck inside, we might as well have some gorgeous florals to brighten up the space. Matilda's Bloombox locally sources blooms, delivers them to her door and provides simple tips on how to arrange it into a beautiful bouquet.

$39

'I Am Enough' bracelet

I Am Enough bracelet

Let this dainty bracelet serve as a constant reminder to your bestie that she is enough. She'll wear this on her wrist and read this daily oath to herself, "I Am Enough."

$35

Glow assorted teas

vahdam low assorted teas

This tea gift box set covers the entire spectrum of flavors from sweet to spicy. Individually packaged in beautiful tins, your gal pal will feel like a queen sipping her morning tea. Originally $40, this set is currently on sale for just $24. We'll take two, please.

$24

Find your voice journal

find your voice journal

Journaling is a great way to ease anxiety and will slow your bestie's racing mind before bed. This gift is perfect for first time journalists and includes prompts, daily quotes and coloring pages to help her unlock her potential and find her voice.

$22

Premium frother

shore magic premium frother

This gift is fitting for your latte-sipping bestie who can't go a day without her coffee. All she has to do is add two scoops of collagen to her favorite drink, and she'll have a perfectly foamy drink ready in seconds. Skipping the drive-thru line has never been so easy!

$25

Bath soak infusion kit

maude bath soak infusion kit

Say hello to hydration! She'll be feeling smooth and relaxed as ever after a long bath soaking in these salts. This vegan + cruelty-free set incorporates dead sea salt and dehydrated coconut milk powder for an ultra hydrating experience.

$32

Tiny Tags 'mama' necklace

Tiny Tags 'mama' necklace

It's a hard-earned title she answers to a hundred times per day. Whether she's new to the club or a seasoned professional, this delicate script 'mama' necklace is guaranteed to be a perfect fit.

$105

Superfood honey

Beekeeper's Naturals B.Powered honey

With a lack of sleep and jam-packed days, getting through the afternoon can be a real challenge. Send her a powerful pick-me-up in the form of a therapeutic blend of royal jelly, bee pollen, propolis and raw honey. It makes the ideal companion for tea, smoothies, yogurt or even on its on.

$17

Calming midnight mask with melatonin

Who doesn't deserve a reminder to pamper themself every once in awhile? Even better, this mask does all its work at night while you're sleeping with no extra effort needed. It's an amazing plant-powered antioxidant-packed mask that has melatonin, wild dandelion leaf and hyaluronic acid to rehydrate, repair and reset facial skin. It's so good, you might want to gift it to yourself. We won't tell, mama.

$68

We independently select and share the products we love—and may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.

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Why do all of my good parenting or baby-focused inventions come after they've already been invented by someone else? Sigh.

Like the Puj hug hooded baby towel, aka the handiest, softest cotton towel ever created.

Safely removing a wet, slippery baby from the bath can be totally nerve-wracking, and trying to hold onto a towel at the same time without soaking it in the process seems to require an extra arm altogether. It's no wonder so much water ends up on the floor, the countertops, or you(!) after bathing your little one. Their splashing and kicking in the water is beyond adorable, of course, but the clean up after? Not as much.

It sounds simple: Wash your child, sing them a song or two, let them play with some toys, then take them out, place a towel around them, and dry them off. Should be easy, peasy, lemon squeezy, right?

But it hasn't been. It's been more—as one of my favorite memes says—difficult, difficult, lemon difficult. Because until this towel hit the bathtime scene, there was no easy-peasy way to pick up your squirming wet baby without drenching yourself and/or everything around you.

Plus, there is nothing cuter than a baby in a plush hooded towel, right? Well, except when it's paired with a dry, mess-free floor, maybe.

Check out our favorites to make bathtime so much easier:

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This viral post about the 4th trimester is exactly what new mamas need right now

"We are alone. Together. You are surrounded all the other mothers who are navigating this tender time in isolation. You are held by all of us who have walked the path before you and who know how much you must be hurting. You are wrapped in the warm embrace of mama earth, as she too settles into this time of slowness and healing."

Artist and teacher Catie Atkinson at Spirit y Sol recently shared a beautiful drawing of a new mom crying on a couch—leaking breasts, newborn baby, pile of laundry and what we can only assume is cold coffee, included. Everything about the image is so real and raw to me—from the soft stomach to the nursing bra and the juxtaposition of the happy wallpaper to the palpable vulnerability of the mother—I can almost feel the couch underneath me. I can feel the exhaustion deep in this woman's bones.

My heart feels the ache of loneliness right alongside hers. Because I remember. I remember the confusion and uncertainty and love and messy beauty of the fourth trimester so well. After all, it's etched in our minds and bodies forever.

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