Sometimes, many times, you need a very simple homeschooling day. This could be due to the family pet dying, mama feeling ill, a new baby born, or a worldwide pandemic. On this day, you just need everyone to be content, to be peaceful, and to end the day without feeling guilt that the kids “did nothing all day.” When our family has one of those days, we do our own sort of ‘crisis curriculum’. Here’s what we do:
grab a FREE classic
Grab a classic book, one with big words and deep thoughts. One that captures the interest of everyone, but is also able to teach everyone something new. That sounds like a tall order, doesn’t it? But there are many old books that do this.
Don’t worry if your bookshelves are bare. There are free classic books that you can start reading right away at Project Gutenberg, either online or on your Kindle or even your phone. Look through this list of Top 100 public domain books to find one your family would like.
Already reading something? Grab a free classic – in music!
gather to read the book
All ages can join in this, and should, if at all possible. I can tell you from experience, you will never regret the time spent reading (or listening to) a book together.
In our house, I’m the reader; the children prefer the dramatic voices I add to the story (less so as they get older, haha). Or perhaps they prefer me to read so they can better snack and fiddle around quietly.
If you prefer to have someone else read the book, check out these free audiobooks of the classics.
as you read, their hands can be quietly busy
Speaking of snacking and fiddling, here are a few ideas from our homeschool. Choose one or use these ideas to inspire your own tradition:
Have a teatime. Our eldest, a college kid, loves our teatime memories so much, he asks for it whenever he has an afternoon free at home. You can make cookies or pastries, if you have an interested baker in the house. But if not, don’t be a perfectionist to the point that teatime doesn’t happen. It can include this-and-that from the cupboard (cracker stackers: crackers, deli meat, cheese) or fridge (fruit). We have very hot Summers, so we don’t always have hot tea. Often our “teatime” is with juice or sweet tea.
Allow silent activities to keep hands occupied. All children have a difficult time sitting still. It’s not necessary to make them be so at reading time. Let them move their hands in a silent activity. It cannot be too distracting for others, and it cannot be noisy even a bit. It does need to be a fairly ‘mindless’ choice, as you don’t want the child thinking over difficult instructions instead of listening to the story.
Here are some ideas from our homeschool:
- knitting and crocheting
- weaving potholders
- making creatures from pipe cleaners
- sketching (crayons are most quiet)
intentionally expand their learning
Keep a list of vocabulary words.
Tell the children ahead of time to let you (or big brother or sister) know when you’ve said a word they don’t understand. Write it down to look up later.
That way can be distracting with many pauses, especially if you have an entertaining six-year-old who thinks its fun to interrupt. If that’s the case for you, write down the words after the reading session is over. You’ll know what they may need to look up or learn to spell.
When you’re done reading, this list is a good spelling and vocabulary list, accompanied by the 1828 Webster dictionary that we homeschooling mamas so dearly love.
Maybe also make a list of geography locations. As you read of a place, write it down to look up on a map and discuss later, if this is something that works for the book you’re reading.
go outside if you possibly can
It’s not always possible to go outside, but if you possibly can, do. At least peer through a window or just look closely at a potted plant. Nature is the perfect place to feel better. Children naturally learn in nature – ask them to show you something you might not have noticed, and they will. Even teens benefit from being outside, though they may not agree at the first suggestion. You’ll notice their sullen moods shift after being outside.
We usually bring along sketchbooks (a piece of paper will do) and a pencil, to sketch observations we’ve made.
today is the day for calm, not for all-the-academic things
Today isn’t the day you need to stress over SAT prep or trigonometry or even multiplication tables. You can, if that works for you, but if not – don’t worry over those today. Kids are great at catching up. Today is simply a day to keep hands busy and minds relaxed while learning a little and being together a lot.
a source for ‘crisis curriculum’
The creators of Ambleside Online created a Crisis Curriculum that is lovely and may help you at this time.
Do you have anything else to add? Let us know below!