Working at Home When Children are Home

Preschool children crave routine. They will need a set routine and to know that you are in charge and will keep them safe when they are home for an unexpected amount of time. They need and want you to show them that there are safe boundaries around them and that they do not have to worry about anything. They want you to be in loving, caring charge of them.You will need to channel your inner Preschool Teacher and we are here to help!

At school we have a set schedule of activities balanced to meet the daily needs of the children. We balance quiet time with active time and indoor time with outdoor time. You can create a schedule that meets the needs of your family modeled on ours. It might look like this:

7:00 – 7:30          Wake up and breakfast together = connection time
7:30 – 8:30         Play in a specific area/room so that adults can have their work time in another
8:45 – 9:00         Clean-up toys and get ready for the day – dressing, planning, etc. 
9:00 – 9:30         Reading or indoor/outdoor play time with adults = connection time
9:30 – 10:30       Play in a specific area/room so that adults can have their work time in another
10:30 – 10:45     Snack and story together = connection time
10:45 – 12:00     Play in a specific area/room so that adults can have their work time in another
12:00 – 12:30     Lunch together = connection time
12:30 – 2:30       Rest time on their mats (just like school) (can be close to you like at school) so that adults can have their work time.                            * If your child doesn’t sleep, they can stay on their mat with quiet activities after they have laid down for 45 minutes. (Just like at school) (stream meditation music or gentle children’s stories for them to listen to) 
2:30 – 3:00          Afternoon snack and story with adult = connection time
3:00 – 4:00          Play in a specific area/room so that adults can have their work time in another
4:00 – 4:30          Reading or indoor/outdoor play time with adults = connection time
4:30 – 5:30           Play in a specific area so that adults can have their work time in another

We know many of you do not live your days like this, but your preschoolers and their teachers do. Developmentally appropriately, we live in 15 minute increments. Our suggestion to you is to set up your day as best you can to mimic what your children already understand and rely on. This will meet their needs so you can meet yours. Tell them their teachers have shared their classroom schedule and that you are going to keep it the same so you don’t forget it for when we get back together. 

Please remember too, that your children love you more than Oreos and will be very excited to be with you full time. You will need to acknowledge that with them and give it back – “I am so excited that you are going to be working from home with me! We are going to make a great team and the teachers will be proud of us.” Time is built into the schedule above for that very important connection time – they will need to feel you and your attention in increments throughout the day. Think of it as a craving they have that needs to be fulfilled. Meet it at times and they and you can move on with other activities/work. This is exactly how we deal with 15 children in a classroom – they understand that we have to balance everyone’s needs and they will get what they need but also will need to think about the needs of others. They can rely on us for that. Be true to your word with them and remember they need you to be in loving charge. 

Note: Consistency is key in succeeding with preschoolers. They need the adults in their world to be consistently in charge of them. If there is more than one adult sharing time with them, you all have to be on the same page. No exceptions unless it is an exception (Grandma day, playdate, etc.). 

NoteYou also want to think about keeping your child’s brain busy. Watching certain kinds of TV is a passive activity that does not keep children’s brains busy. That kind of TV has its place but should not be used exclusively or at great length. In a future post, we will talk about the kinds of shows that fill children’s brains with learning and questions and encourage them to be creative and take what they have learned into art work, building, and play from their own imaginations. This kind of input will encourage them to play on their own leaving you more time to work and, more importantly, help them grow. 

Author: Gail Ader

Early childhood education is my passion and I have worked in this field since 1998, first as a teacher and then as an administrator. Child centered learning in a supportive and developmentally appropriate setting is the key to high quality programs. As the Executive Director at the Cooperative Learning Community my focus is on supporting my team so that they can focus on their children and families.