Homeschooling In the Wake of Coronavirus

Homeschooling Covid-19

We are practicing social distancing. Doctors appointments have been cancelled. Social engagements put off. Activities erased from the weekly calendar. My husband is working from home. My children’s schools are closed until further notice. This is life during a pandemic. Covid-19.

I see all of the above alterations to our daily lives as not only important but imperative. I believe it is my job to protect my family and others, to slow the spread, to help flatten the curve.

I feel especially grateful that my husband’s job has afforded our family the opportunity for me to not work, to stay at home with my children. And it seems serendipitous that the small handful of remote jobs I have applied for in the last year have not come to fruition. Because now I am presented with a job for which I have no formal training and no roadmap! This new position? Teacher. Of homeschool. To my three children. In three different grades. Insert surprised, wide eyed emoji here.

I can’t say the thought of homeschooling my kids has never crossed my mind. But when considering this option in the past, the scarcity of non-faith based curriculum seemed like a huge obstacle. It is easy enough to find individual activities and crafts on Pinterest, but I have yet to find a reliable resource for longterm secular homeschooling.

While I still haven’t quite wrapped my head around the severity of the situation we find ourselves in (following a week of spring break, we never returned to school and will likely not for some time), I have quickly gone all-in on developing a curriculum for my children. They deserve full enriching days, opportunities to learn and to move their bodies and I deserve the sanity that comes from a daily routine.

Thus I humbly present (in the hope that we work smarter not harder – together – during this unique situation), Homeschooling In The Wake of Coronavirus.

Our days are loosely based on the following schedule:

  • Make Bed/Brush Teeth/Get Dressed
  • Breakfast
  • Audiobook (we signed up for the 30 day free trial of — so far so good!) & Legos/Magnatiles/Trains
  • Outside Time (bikes, hike up rock hill, slack-line, sports on the side of the house)
  • Homeschool & Snack
    • Daily Meeting– Good Morning Song (I’ve been playing Hair Up from Trolls to dance our feelings out before we start school), Calendar (reviewing today’s date – my 5 and 7 year olds write this in their journals), Weather Check
    • Journal– Maddie writes a short paragraph using a prompt I’ve come up with and draws a picture, Benj write a sentence using his sight word flashcards and draws a picture, Marg practices tracing her name and draws a picture
    • Math
  • Lunch
  • Quiet Rest/Alone Time (my refrain has been, “we all need time to recharge our batteries before we get back together for the afternoon”)
  • Chores
  • Homeschool & Snack
    • Read Aloud– Daily Poem & Picture Books
    • Song
    • Literacy Worksheets
    • Activities
  • Centers
    • Art Table– Watercolors, Coloring Pages, Stampers, Perler Beads, Orbeez, Playdough
    • Dining Table– Puzzles, Screws, Cubes, Counting Bears
    • Living Room– Books
  • Dinner
  • Tidy Up House
  • Watch Show or Play Family Game
  • Showers/Read Aloud/Bedtime

I will be linking to lesson plans under the “Homeschooling” tab as I develop them and test them out on my kids, so please check back if you are in need of some fresh ideas! And if you have any awesome ideas that have gone over great with your kids, please share them here or on the Keep Calm and Soldier On Facebook Page!

Best Gifts For Newborns

Best Gifts For Newborns

Newborns don’t need a whole lot to make it in this world — milk, sleep and clean diapers pretty much sets them up for success. But new parents likely already have the silent breast pump/muslin blankets/cloth diapers (or in my case bottles/swaddles/disposables) they need to keep their new babies thriving. What you’re after is the perfect gift — that unique item the new parent in your life hasn’t thought of/heard of/won’t splurge on! Look no further. I give you the best gifts for newborns (and their parents)!

Jellycats are my go-to new baby gift. Soft, sweet and cuddly, these are the guys you want to become your baby’s guy. They’re the only stuffed animal with a shelf life in our house!

Marpac Sound Machine, you little sleep-saver, you. We didn’t have a sound machine for our first baby, but as soon as baby number two came along I understood why this is totally a thing. Loud big sibling crashing around in the hallway while bitty baby naps? Dogs barking at the mailman while bitty baby naps? Giant thunderstorm while bitty baby naps? Knock-out punch to get bitty baby into a nap? A sound machine is always the answer.

GooseWaddle Blankets are so special, while still seeming functional. “Big Blankie” and “Little Blankie” actually became part of my son’s go-to guys, along with two Jellycats. GooseWaddle says it best: “Supremely soft and tantalizingly touchable, this [blanket] offers the ultimate in downy-soft luxury.”

Trumpette Socks are the tops in socks for babies. They come in a bunch of adorable styles (girls and boys) and they stay on baby’s feet (which is a thing that parents really want). Plus they wash well and make great hand-me-downs!

Speaking of adorable things that stay on baby’s feet…Zutano Booties are some of the sweetest, most practical soft shoes for new babies in need of an extra layer of warmth! Definitely worth the splurge. I love the cotton for the spring/summer and the fleece for the fall/winter!

At my baby shower, each guest brought with them a book to add to my daughter Madeline’s little library. As reading-enthusiasts, we were all over this gift. But if you want to step up your game, allow me to suggest gifting vintage children’s books! I love hunting down titles from my childhood to gift to new babies (and to my own children). You can find a bunch of re-releases on Amazon, but should definitely check Ebay, Etsy, Paperback Swap and even garage/estate sales for the more rare kid’s books. They don’t make Little Golden Books like they used to, y’all, so be sure to snag a few gems for the new baby in your life!

Lucy Darling makes the most beautiful, simple and low-maintenance baby books I have come across in my five years of parenting. I’ve even been able to keep up with memory-making for my third child, Margaret, with this gorgeous baby book! New parents will thank you for taking the pressure off with this darling baby book!

Because having a newborn is also about the birth of new parents(!), it’s important when giving “new baby” gifts to remember the people who brought the baby into this world! I’ll never forget those early sleep-deprived days of motherhood, surrounded by the baby gear that’s supposed to make infancy easier, attempting to console the inconsolable (the baby and me) and feeling so impossibly alone. Enter The Magic of Motherhood. This book contains the most relatable, heart-poured-out tales for every stage of mothering. Reading these stories is like wrapping yourself in a cable knit, sherpa-lined blanket and guzzling hot coffee on a cold day. This has become my go-to gift for mothers, new and old.

Helliemae's Espresso Caramels
Right after I had my third baby, my fabulous sister sent me a surprise box of Helliemae’s Espresso Caramels in the mail. Eight months later, and I’m still thinking about these bad boys. They are new-parent life-blood. You should definitely gift parents of newborns these caramels. Throw in a Starbucks gift card, and you’ll rank in their “Most-Remembered Gifts Received” list.

A Countdown To Christmas For Kids!

Countdown To ChristmasSo, I am a sucker for tradition and memory-making and especially Christmas. There’s no denying it. I think it was sometime in September, when I was nesting hard and hoping Margaret would make an early debut, that I began daydreaming about this year’s holidays with our three children(!). Filled with ALL the Pinterest-mom zest for their perfect childhood, I dreamed up this play on the advent calendar that would be festive, fun and chock-full of the spirit of giving.Christmas Countdown For Kids!

I organized 24 daily activities that can be shuffled around to accommodate your schedule (i.e. tree-getting and visits to Santa on the weekends, coloring and caroling on weekdays). Our daily prompts (see below) are laminated (because of course), slipped into each of these adorable numbered bags and hung on our advent tree. Every morning the kids come down and pluck the day’s bag off the tree. We’ve been having SO much fun decorating our house, writing letters to soldiers and Santa, going to the post office to mail our letters and making some charitable donations in our community.

It’s never to late to start a new tradition and make some holiday memories of your own! Hopefully, these ideas/printout makes it a little easier for you! Tis the season to be jolly, after all!Advent Calendar

Count down to Christmas with these fun and festive activities for children!

  1. Decorate the whole house for Christmas (make sure to blast the Christmas music)!
  2. Bring food donations to a food pantry.
  3. Have a Christmas Movie Marathon!
  4. Write a Christmas card to a deployed service member!
  5. Write a letter to Santa!
  6. Mail your letters to Santa and soldiers!
  7. Color Christmas pictures!
  8. Make paper snowflakes!
  9. Pick out and decorate the Christmas tree!
  10. Pick out new Christmas ornaments for this year’s tree!
  11. Visit Santa!
  12.  Do something kind for someone in your family — shh, it’s a secret! (Pick names now.)
  13. Sing Christmas carols!
  14. Make Christmas gifts or cards for your teachers!
  15. Gather old toys and clothes to donate!
  16. Make birdseed ornaments to hang outside!
  17. Go to Starbucks for Christmas drinks, then head out on a family hike (bring some birdseed ornaments to hang)!
  18. Make peppermint bark!
  19. Build a blanket fort and read Christmas stories inside!
  20. Play a family game!
  21. Bake and decorate Christmas cookies!
  22. Sit by the fire (inside or outside) and roast marshmallows!
  23. Walk around (or drive if it’s too cold) in jammies to look at Christmas pretties!
  24. Open your Christmas Eve Bag!

Countdown To Christmas Printable

Click this image for a printable PDF!

For more Pinterest-worthy Christmas ideas, check out this and this!