Remote Learning Round-Up: Schedules & Routines
In the first two weeks of school closure, my district took the time to research and develop a remote learning curriculum. Teachers, staff, and students were given a two-week “snow day.” Snow days are not my friend. They typically pop up midweek in the midst of many open evaluations and scheduled meetings — they are never a vacation day for me. I always have something with an impending deadline, so I view my snow days as work-from-home days with the added “bonus” of some exercise (digging my car out- welcome to New England)! I enjoy the structure and routine of a schedule. After multiple consecutive snow days, I am itching to get back to work. The notion of a two-week snow day seemed incomprehensible to me.
The first day off was a blur. It was structured around returning to my office to gather whatever belongings I thought might be essential for the two-week closure (had to rescue my Girl Scout Cookies). By the beginning of the following week, without any expectations of where I needed to be, I started going to bed later and later. I found myself wide awake at night, having not done anything physically or mentally draining. It was hard to get anything started let alone finished, especially with no pressing deadlines or scheduled meetings. I was floating through my week yet all of this freedom felt stressful. I needed some structure and some new routines ASAP.
I can only imagine the sentiment I expressed above is a familiar one. It became clear to me that in the absence of a daily norm, I needed to craft a schedule for myself. One of the first types of resources I saw repeatedly online was tips and tools around creating structure and routine at home. Society has quickly needed to adapt to a new type of day. I have gathered various resources below.
These are articles I read that provided insight on how to balance a student’s day and provided helpful visuals or real-life examples.
- How to Home School During Coronavirus (New York Times)
- Sample Schedules For Kids Home From School During Coronavirus Outbreak (Huffington Post)
- The Secret to Keeping Your Kids Happy, Busy and Learning if Their School Closes Due to Coronavirus (Time)
- Support Kids During the Coronavirus Crisis (Child Mind)
- Schools Closed? How to Make a New Home Routine (PBS)
- What to do with your kids when school is canceled (Vox)
- How to keep your kid on a schedule during coronavirus school closings (NY Post)
- Families turn to schedules to maintain children’s routines during coronavirus outbreak (The Globe and Mail)
- How to Create a Sense of Normalcy for Your Kids During Coronavirus (Nurture Life blog)
- Making the Most of COVID-19 School Closures (NESCA)
- Keeping Routines, Schedules and Structure at Home (Dr. Lynne Kenney)
This article poses an analysis of the counter-argument around the unexpected freedom from routine:
These articles were fascinating reads with tips from those with expertise in isolation due to their occupations:
- ‘Start a daily routine — and make the weekends different’: the isolation experts’ guide to lockdown living (The Guardian)
- Ten Tips From Scientists Who Have Spent Months in Isolation (Smithsonian Magazine)
I found several articles specifically targeting students on the Autism Spectrum or those who struggle with change and transitions, even before the pandemic.
- Helping autistic kids cope with the chaos and uncertainty of coronavirus (Washington Post)
- Staying Structured and Engaged in this Challenging Time (Autism Society of North Carolina)
- How to Help Children with Autism Manage Schedule Changes Due To Covid-19 (Alternative Behavior Strategies)
- How to cope with disrupted family routines during COVID-19 (Autism Speaks)
Several outlets have generated parent guides for navigating the shift to remote learning. All highlight generating a schedule and routine to support learning at home. The 3 main takeaways:
- Have consistent bedtimes and get up at the same time, Monday through Friday.
- Structure the day for learning, free time, healthy meals and snacks, and physical activity.
- Allow flexibility in the schedule — it’s okay to adapt based on your day.
- School’s Out: A Parents’ Guide for Meeting the Challenge During the COVID-19 Pandemic (NYU Langone)
- COVID-19 Parenting Guide (Unicef)
- Caring for Children (CDC)
- Creating Structure and Rules (CDC)
- A Guide for Working (From Home) Parents (Harvard Business Review)
- The Realistic Guide to Homeschooling for Busy Parents (Mommy Poppins blog)
- The Educator’s Playbook (UPenn GSE)
There are infinite resources out there for creating a schedule for yourself, your child, or your student. I have spotlighted a wide range so maybe there is something that appeals to you, while there might be another option that feels less compatible.
- Printable Daily Schedule (Behavioral Interventions and Solutions, LLC/BIAS) → Note from the author: I created a sample schedule for you, as well as a list of activity ideas for each category. Are the schedule times or order of activities not quite right? Print it out, cut out the strips apart, reorder them to your liking and then glue it to a plain sheet of paper. You can even write in your own times next to each activity. Make learning from home a breeze by scheduling and alternating preferred and non-preferred activities.
- Daily COVID-19 Schedule for Kids (Mommyhood 101) → Note from the author: We developed a COVID-19 kids schedule that you can download, modify, and print, to help keep things more predictable while you’re at home with the kids.
- This viral COVID-19 family schedule is just what parents need (Motherly- created by Jessica McHale Photography)
- Sample Block Schedule (Chester County Health Department) → They also created a blank printable version if you like the format.
- Age-Specific Schedules (Khan Academy)→ Note from the author: These schedules are meant to be templates that you could adopt as is or copy and modify to better suit the needs of your children, classroom or district. As you see in the schedules below, Khan Academy does have self-paced, interactive content — exercises, videos and articles — for students in every grade and in most major subject areas. It is all free and non-commercial.
- Sample Daily Schedules (Maker Learning Network) → Note from the author: There are a lot of different ways to learn at home, and you don’t have to lock in on one style right away; you may end up blending ideas for the perfect fit. Give yourselves some time to figure out what works best for your family. View the sample schedules below, and then you can find a template at the end to create your own!
- Weekly Planner Chart (PBS)→ Note from the author: Let’s create a schedule! First, think about the things that need to happen each day this week. Next, use the space below to write those things down. This schedule will help everyone stay organized.
- Creating a Daily Schedule (Connections Academy)→ Note from the author: Here is a fillable template for you to use.
- This schedule was created by two teachers in the Lexington Public Schools. → Note from the authors: Here you will find TWO Example Remote Learning Schedules that may help you organize your time at home. Choose one of the following schedules that is best for you. Or maybe you want to do a combination of both. Here is a Screencastify explaining how to use the routines. Created by Hillary Moser and Cecelia Vosland.
- Daily Planner with an added mindfulness tool (C. Post)
Free Downloads available through Teachers Pay Teachers
A quick shout-out for TpT. For those unfamiliar, here is a quick “about us” direct from the source: “TpT is the go-to place for educators to find the resources, knowledge, and inspiration they need to teach at their best. We offer more than 3 million free and paid resources, created by educators who understand what works in the classroom. Our marketplace is growing every day to meet the evolving needs of the PreK-12 classroom. When educators get the resources and support they need, they’re best equipped to inspire our next generation of learners.”
- Daily Learning Schedules (The Chitown Teacher)→ Note from the author: This product is here to help you plan out the time at home for you & your students.
- Daily At-Home Learning Schedule with an Academic Focus (The Teachaholic)→ Note from the author: In the document you will find a link to OPEN and COPY. You need a GMAIL account to access it. Once you have it, you can edit it to your liking and family needs. What is shown in the original document is a SUGGESTED SCHEDULE. Use as much or as little as you’d like.
- Editable Homeschool Schedule Packet (Exceptional Thinkers)→ Note from the author: We’ll need to establish structure and routine in our homes these next few weeks, more so than ever. I uploaded a blank daily schedule and made it editable so you can tailor it to your needs. I’ll try to update this resource with whatever I make for myself as I get a better understanding of how things will go. I included a sheet to keep track of passwords too. I don’t know about anyone else, but my kids came home with their book bags overflowing with sheets with passwords and online service accounts. The password sheet will keep it all in one place. Use the choice cards for movement breaks in between their school assignments. Use the Great Work Tracker token board to reward kids as they complete their tasks.
- Editable At-Home Learning Schedule (Miss Ferraro Teaches)
- Homeschool Activity Tracker Log (Counselor Station)→ Note from the author: Use these printables to loosely track activities completed during time spent learning at home. Whether you are following a schedule, chunking blocks of time, or being spontaneous, you can track what your child is reading and learning. Prompts include: What I Read, Activity Time, I Want to Remember, How I Feel Today, Resources Used, Goals, Reading, Math, and many open-ended options and designs. A blank reading log is also included.
- Learning At Home Templates (Love and Lessons)
- Distance Learning Schedule and Resources (Glitter and Hummus) → Great for younger children (K-2).
- Homeschool Daily Routine/Schedule (The Teacher Wife)→ Note from the author: This download includes a daily routine/schedule outline that is perfect for homeschooling, long school breaks, and summer time. Included is an example of how I use this schedule in my home.
- Distance Learning Schedule (LIT Lessons)→ Note from the author: How can you use this? Teachers — Send out the schedule sample with tips to parents to help them organize the day for their learner. Feel free to fill in the schedule with your school’s materials and resources. Parents — Use the schedule to structure your learner’s day. Fill it out with them and set goals!
- For Educators: Editable Distance Learning Schedules (Pencils and Playgrounds)→ Note from the author: Due to distant learning being so new to my students, I noticed many of them were struggling with balancing their work and organizing their day. Therefore, I designed these editable distance learning schedules to help them.
- For Educators: Weekly Distance Learning Schedule Template (Fourth Grade Flair) → Note from the author: This EDITABLE template will hopefully make sending work home a little easier. I plan to use this as an outline for how I plan lessons for now. You should be able to edit for your purposes. We are all in this together!
- For Educators: Distance Learning Lesson Schedule (Thompson’s Teachings-Amanda Thompson) → Note from the author: Distance Learning daily template for you to send to your kids with lessons, extras, tips, etc. ALL boxes and day/date are editable! BEST when opened in Powerpoint :) For the formatting, fonts, etc. to open correctly
- For Educators: Home Learning Templates (Miss West Best) → Note from the author: In this resource, I have included daily, editable templates to share a schedule of learning to students and families. In addition to these templates, I have also included several other resources to assist at-home learning.
This list above is just a sample of what educators across the world have created in response to COVID-19 and the global shift to remote learning. There is much more to be found, an astonishing amount of which is free, on TpT.
Finally, I wanted to take a step back, pre-coronavirus (it feels like forever ago) and cite some excellent articles that establish the benefits routine has toward our emotional well-being. These articles offer an excellent framework for the value of the resources above. It also serves as an excellent reminder that even though remote learning has us quickly trying to adapt, there are some useful habits that could stick with us when the pandemic ends.
- The Power of Routines in Your Mental Health (Psychology Today)
- The secret benefit of routines. It won’t surprise you. (Headspace)
- Daily Routines Can Benefit Your Mental Health, According To A New Study & Here’s How To Kickstart Yours (Bustle)
- The Blessing of a Routine (Chicago Tribune)
- Maintaining a daily rhythm is important for mental health, study suggests. (CNN Health)
I have heard people considering using this time as a chance to give themselves a new routine. I offer this article which provides some excellent moments of mindfulness and questions to be asking yourself as you build this new schedule.
What schedules speak to you? What elements do you seek in shaping a routine? What tools have you developed with your students, families, or yourself? Share your answers in the comments below.
Thanks for reading. My next installment will focus on Self-Care.