I'm a wife to my "Mr. Right". A momma of five. A maker of slow food and simple living. A collector of memories, a keeper of books, and a champion for books that make memories. An addict who likes my half-and-half with a splash of coffee. A fractured pot transformed by the One Who makes broken things beautiful. I heart homeschooling, brake for libraries, and am glad you're here with me on the journey! Be sure to subscribe to my monthly newsletter. Or, follow along with Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Google +, Youtube, or Pinterest.

Co-op's Been Canceled, Now What? Learning Ideas for Already Homeschoolers

A global pandemic--contrary to what social media says, doesn't just affect the kids in the traditional classroom. In its own way, it affects us homeschoolers too. Granted, we're used to the logistics of learning from home. We don't have to scramble to find curriculum options. Our days already follow a somewhat organized routine. We chose this life. This feels normal to us.

But, homeschooling in the midst of a worldwide crisis is not the same kind of homeschooling that we're all used to. We, too, are stuck inside. We, too, face endless hours of sameness.

(This post contains affiliate links. Please see my disclosure policy for full details.)

Libraries, museums, zoos, co-op, playdates--all our normal hangouts have been canceled or closed. Despite what the nosey lady at the grocery store has to say, our kids are used to having plenty of opportunities to be with others. For the first time, we're all feeling a bit unsocialized.

If your kids are anything like mine, they are probably nursing some feelings of loneliness. They need a change of scenery or a change of pace. Golly, I need it too.

Fortunately, a few weeks ago--before the national crisis hit--I ordered a new-to-us art curriculum. This is pretty typical for me. I almost always buy one new fun item in the spring to give my homeschool a boost during the typical burn-out months. It's like a defibrillator--it puts our attitudes back into a good place.

Now, one full week into a mass quarantine, I'm especially grateful for this little bit of "different."

For the next few weeks, let's all purpose to mix it up, to add in some jazz-hands, to do something out of the ordinary in our homeschools to help our kids get through the doldrums of staying inside. Luckily for us, so many businesses and educational organizations are offering free resources for all schooling-from-home kids--even ours.

Here are a few options to consider.

New Schedules

Task Cards- Set your homeschool day on autopilot with these free printable picture-driven Task Cards. No longer will you have to prod or cajole your children a million times a day to continue at their tasks. The motivation is built right into the system.

Daily Schedule Printable- Create a smooth routine to the homeschool day and provide your kids with age-appropriate expectations so they're not always wondering what to do next with this free printable that not only incorporates the normal academics of homeschooling, but also the fun!

New Learning Activities

Chalk Art Tutorials- All you need for these video art tutorials is a stash of printer paper and a set of chalk pastels. Each lesson is simple and short enough to be easily slipped into an otherwise regular homeschool day. And in the end, you and your kids will have a beautiful piece of art to show for it!

Epic!- Is your library closed like ours is? With this online children's library, your kids can binge-read books instead of binge-watching Netflix!

Maestro Classics- Help your family cultivate a love of classical music the sneaky way with Maestro Classics Stories in Music! With over a dozen titles to choose from, this series is designed to develop listening skills and encourage families to listen together. Each CD/MP3 includes music with fun narrated stories, educational tracks, sing-alongs, and more. A 24-page activity booklet is also included and curriculum guides and other educational materials are available for free on their website.

Groovy Lab in a Box- STEM not your gift? That's OK. With Groovy Lab in a Box, a ready-made STEM kit can be sent right to your door every month. Each box comes with complete instructions and project supplies to make things like a bottle rocket or a working crane.

Reading Horizons- This is a fantastic online reading program, designed especially for those with dyslexia and other reading struggles. It can be used as a complete curriculum or as a fun supplement to what you're already doing at home. (From now until March 31, 2020, score 20% off by using TUH20 at checkout.)

Kid-Friendly Podcasts- Lots of learning can be snuck into the day while your kids are doing a handwork project or a chore. Encourage them to listen to an informative podcast while they work. Adventures in Odyssey, Wow in the World, The Daily Poem, The Story Pirates, Storynory, Brains On!, and The Past and the Curious are some of our favorites, but be sure to check out these great suggestions too!

Stay-in-Place Freebies

Audible- For as long as schools are closed, Audible is offering an incredible selection of kids' audiobooks for free. You don't need an Audible subscription or even the app to be able to listen. This is a special website of curated titles that will be added to and subtracted from in the coming weeks. It's owned by Audible but was created specifically for this time of crisis. 

Virtual Field Trips- There's no reason to let an at-home season or a closed-door policy keep you from great learning adventures. Here's a list of 50+ virtual field trips to museums, science centers, art galleries, national parks, and aquariums all over the world. Enjoy a field trip without ever leaving your couch.

School House Rock TV- Find all the Schoolhouse Rock videos from your childhood in one easy location. These sing-songy educational cartoons include topics specific to math, language arts, civics, and history. 

The Wingfeather Saga- Andrew Peterson, author of the Wingfeather Saga (one of my family's most favorite book series) is hosting a live read aloud on his Facebook channel. Tune in to hear one chapter of On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness, the first title in the series, each night.

Adventures in Odyssey- Snag a 4-week free trial of the beloved audio drama. Or subscribe to The Official Adventures in Odyssey podcast on your favorite podcast app and listen to old episodes for free.

Home Safari- Tune in each weekday at 3pm EST to watch free Facebook Live videos from the Cincinnati Zoo. A keeper or zoologist gives an up-close-and-personal look at one animal's enclosure and provides lots of interesting information about the natural instincts, feeding, and breeding habits of each. 

More Helpful Links

When all else fails, try to find outside-of-the-box ways to bring friends closer. Let your kids use your Messenger or Facetime app to play a game of Guess Who, Battleship, or Shut the Box with a friend.

Encourage your co-op leaders to set up a Zoom meet-up with each class.

Set a teddy bear in your window sill, text your neighbors to do the same. The next time you take your family on a walk, pretend you're on a bear hunt. Take pictures of the bears you see and text them to the appropriate neighbors telling them that their bears have been "caught."

Got any more stay-in-place ideas for us already homeschoolers? Leave them in the comments for the rest of us to enjoy!


Social Distancing Help For You, Mama

If like me, your extroversion is starting to itch during all this social distancing, it helps to remember what you don’t have to be distanced from. Namely, the company of a good book.

My TBR list is longer than the tax code, so I’m trying to look at all this quiet, alone-ish time as a chance to build some new literary friendships and hone a few new-to-me skills. Wanna join me? We can be book buddies from afar. I’ll even sweeten the deal by introducing you to a few helpful titles to get you started.

I’ve teamed up with another book-loving Jamie to offer one lucky mama and her friend a social distancing survival kit of sorts. We’re giving away copies of Give Your Child the World, Introverted Mom, Homeschool Bravely, and a $10 Starbucks card (to be redeemed at the drive-through window from an appropriate distance.)

Head on over to Instagram from now until Friday, March 27th for your chance to win!