#homeschooling Day 4. CHALLENGE I WAS HAVING: I created a daily schedule, but we weren’t remotely keeping up btwn my conf calls & other must-do work tasks. Plus I want them to have the flexibility to just be kids. So I came up w/ a solution: a more self-directed elem school day

Assigned each kid a color. My 6yr old – purple & my 8 yr old – red. Made a folder for each subject & assigned a number. The order depends on you & the kid. Maybe you want the more challenging subject first, or maybe they pick their favorite academic subject. I let my kids pick.

They have folders assigned #1-10. Each # folder has a subject. The school day is done when they finish to folder #10. In each folder, I print the materials sent by the teachers & drop them in each folder the night before. If there is a book they need to read, it goes in there.

If there is an email w/ instructions I need to remember, I print & drop it in so that when they get to the subject, I can help them w/ the exercise. Shout out to my kids’ amazing teachers! & maybe a folder like “gym” just has a fun note from me, “Let’s have a dance party!”

I have a yellow folder in the front for Completed Work. They can drop in their worksheets for me to look over later. They have a box of school supplies next to the file folder box.

Have a # folder called “Extras.” If they, “Don’t have anything to do,” they go to that folder. It has fun books, coloring books, etc. I learned this 1 the hard way as my 6yo showed up on camera during a Zoom call yesterday & I forgot hit mute B4 saying, “Girl, get out of the screen please!”

At lunch, I set out a small platter of protein, fruit/veggies, crackers, drinks, etc. If I have a call that overlaps with lunchtime, need a few minutes to do something around the house, OR JUST NEED A BREAK, they can serve themselves. Came back to crumbs everywhere, but it’s fine

I was w/ them for most of the day while they went in & out of their folders. They loved working w/ the folders & seeing their progress as they worked to folder #10. Some folders took 10 minutes to get through. We spent more time on others.

I could focus on helping & learning more about my kids’ lives @ school. I got to see what subjects they really love & how industrious they are. My 8 yo & I got into a debate about how I was interpreting an assignment. An email to the teacher settled it:he was right! #hesgotthis

Hubby is working from home & on conf calls all day. This system is also a great way to create a structure for GENDER EQUITY in the house. He walks in btwn calls & asks kids, “Which folder are you working on?” He can jump right in & get involved. #homeschoolinghasnogender

If I need focused time to do something, kids can “run the folders.” Creates a structure to ask for help as sitter or other family members can “run the folders” too. #momdoesnothavetodoeverything. Some days, we will take a break, knowing that we have the structure when we need it.

Kids more focused & less hyper than last few days because they see & understand the structure. If I see them wandering, I can redirect with a “Which folder are you on? Is it time to move to the next one?” Less yelling/lecturing & I don’t feel overwhelmed working w/ multiple kids.

You obviously have to make sure they aren’t rushing through the folders just to get done. That’s what the yellow “COMPLETED WORK” folder is for. As you check over their work, you can make sure they are putting in the effort.

Calendar sheets from teachers w/ assigned tasks also go in the folder, so they can see what their teachers want them to do. It’s ok if some folders are empty on a given day. I’m there to help the 6yo read directions. If I’m busy at the time, she skips the folder & does the next.

When we get through our 10 folders, we close the file folder box and put it away. We do a chore, and then the kids get to set the agenda (within reason). Outside time, cooking something yummy, TV, they find their own fun, etc.

Why am I sharing this?
1. Because I know a lot of parents are trying to figure it out, especially as we juggle other jobs, housework, etc. Shout out to the #homeschooling parents who have been doing this for years & the teachers who do this with multiple kids in the classroom!

2. I’m a Professor & scholar of inequality. My colleagues & I know that the achievement gap will likely explode w/ kids being out of school. We don’t need to hoard resources like good ideas. We are in this together & need to help ALL kids thrive.

& I recognize that U need internet, a computer/device, printer, food, & supplies to do this. U need someone who has the time to set up this system & the flexibility to help execute this. What people or organizations are working to fill this gap in your community that you can support?

3. I want to help others avoid the shame spiral that can come from this whole homeschooling thing. The hourly calendar was WEARING ME OUT. When I felt guilty for letting us sleep in or starting my morning with a workout & a call to a bestie while my kids enjoyed a little free time after waking up, I knew I had to make a change. And I wanted to set some healthy boundaries: not every homeschool suggestion, virtual playdate request, “should do,” etc has to be honored. Find a system that works for you & your family & rock it.

If you read to this pt, THANKU! I wrote a book called Remaking A Life that looks at the #HIV pandemic & lessons learned through the activism of women. My folder system clearly pales in comparison to their strength & creativity, and their stories have a lot to teach us in the current moment. Please check it out if you are so inclined. Available through your bookseller.

Stay safe all! Wishing you and your loved ones good health & THANK YOU to our health care professionals on the front lines trying to keep us alive and healthy.