Free-Schooling Schedule During COVID-19

Free-Schooling Schedule During COVID-19

Free-Schooling Schedule During COVID-19

I sat in bed and watched the news screen: we were already on spring break for two weeks, but was extended until at least the middle of April. An additional two weeks. I was cool with doing our fun activities during the two-week closure, but four weeks? That’s a lot of learning time they’re missing out on. But I’ll be honest, I’m not equipped to teach math. I’m not equipped to do a strict schedule with my kids. I had to fight the urge to start planning immediately. Instead, I waited until morning. I was able to gather my thoughts a bit more, check in with other parents, and from there I quickly developed what the next several weeks will look like for us.

Before I get into any of my details, I will preface this and let you know that our schedule is all child-led. Meaning everything we’ll be learning is at the request of the kids (both my own and daycare kids). I will be “teaching” a variety of ages at once. It should be, well, interesting. Luckily I have nine years of experience emerging various age groups into activities. I’m not nervous about it at all, I’m more so interested in keeping the kid’s minds going. I am also big on maintaining some sort of normalcy for the kids. That is hugely important during this time. I don’t like to call this homeschooling, but rather a free schooling (I strongly dislike the term unschooling, but this is pretty much that).

I asked the kids what they would like to do during their time off and this is what we have:

  • Free art (glitter glue, scissors, markers, googly eyes, feathers)
  • Build a city with recyclables
  • Drawing
  • Learn music
  • Science experiments
  • Social studies: continents, other countries, maps
  • Spanish
  • Learn to do laundry
  • Paint the new playhouse
  • Plant a garden
  • Watch “smart” (educational movies)
  • Go for walks
  • Play outside: play games

Our schedule will look something like this:

8 – 10 a.m. | Wake up, breakfast, get ready for the day, free play
10:00 | Snack and music time 
10:30 – 11:30 | School time (social studies, science, art, science, music)
11:30 | Free play outside (weather permitting)
12:00 | Lunch
12:30 | Read to them 10 minutes 
12:40 – 3:00 p.m. | Naps/rest for younger kids
                               Math worksheets
                               Reading and writing
                               Rest for bigs
3:00 | Snack
3:30 | Physical activity, hands-on learning, free play
5:00 – 5:30/6:00 | Daycare closes, online learning for my three
6:00 – 7:30 | Dinner, showers, chores
7:30 p.m. | Bedtime

Here’s an example of our first week of free schooling:


8:00 – 10:00 a.m. | Wake up, breakfast, get ready, free play
10:00 | Snack with music (Joshua Tree album by U2)
10:30 | Free art
11:00 | social studies: the 7 continents and the world’s oceans, identifying them on maps, news talk (answer any questions they may have about what they have seen or heard)
11:30 | Free play outside (weather permitting)
12:00 | Lunch
12:30 | Read to them (we haven’t agreed on a group book to read)
12:40 – 3:00 p.m.| Potty breaks, naps/rest time for younger kids, math worksheets, flashcards, reading, and writing (for bigs)
3:00 | Snack
3:30 | Free play outside (weather permitting)
5:00 – 6:00 p.m. | Daycare closes, online learning (they each have websites to choose from their teachers)


8 – 10 a.m. | Same as the previous day
10:00 | Snack with music (Goodbye Yellow Brick Road album by Elton John)
10:30 – 11:30 | Science (experiment, TBD), social studies (review of continents and oceans, identifying on the map, quiz)
11:30 | Free play outside (weather permitting)
12:00 | Lunch
12:30 | Read to them
12:40 – 3:00 p.m. | Repeat of the previous day
3:00 p.m. | Snack
3:30 | Karate lessons
5:00 – 6:00 | Online learning
6:00 – 7:00 | Dinner, go for a walk as a family


Free day. Outside play as much as possible. Basketball, flag football, jump ropes.


Take a walk on the bike path and scavenger hunt along the way.

As I have in the past with summer, the kids will decide the weekly menus and help write a grocery list. This is something I started last summer and it works great for all involved! I am forever thankful I’ve had nine summers to prepare for our “free schooling.” I wanted to give the kids plenty of free time as well because their free time does not involve screens at this house. Instead, I encourage them to be outdoors as much as possible and work together in play and games. I know the kids are anxious to get our “fun activities” underway, but I have reserved those for summer because these same kids will be with me for three months soon enough. As usual, this is a rough routine and schedule we’ll be working on. I am not opposed to switching things up if it’s not working, trying something new, or switching days around (especially since some of these are weather dependent). 
Stay strong to all of the mommas who find themselves at home with kids and all of the daycare providers taking kids! Create fun, good memories rather than focus on the negative right now.

About the Author

Ashlen Sheaffer is a proud Des Moines resident who was born and raised here. Ashlen wears many hats: mom, wife, daycare provider at her in-home daycare, blogger and co-owner at The Kidsperts, children’s book author, and co-director and producer for the upcoming play Expressing Motherhood play. In her free time, Ashlen enjoys exploring all Des Moines has to offer, road trips, and adventuring all with the kids in tow. Ashlen is super excited to be able to share some of her family’s adventuring with other Iowans and get other families out into the community.

Follow her:

Website: www.thekidsperts.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ashlen.kidspert

Twitter: https://twitter.com/AshlenSheaffer

Instagram: https://instagram.com/ashlen_at_the_kidsperts/

Erin Huiatt

Erin is a reliable resource and stepping stone for women and families to find support and make connections within our community. She wants families to feel confident to reach out and ask for help and advice to get pointed in the right direction. She enjoys traveling and exploring with her two children in tow!

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