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Bilbo's Journey

Day 503: Managing children at home through isolation

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We’re no stranger to isolation, our secret sauce – Reward Charts

As a cancer family we’re very used to isolation. And so once again we are finding ourselves preparing to isolate as we respond to Coronavirus. This time though it is very different:

  • We are not the only ones, our friends and my work colleagues have already become more than familiar with isolation in China and Italy.
  • Rich and I are still working, when Bilbo first got cancer we were both on medical leave.
  • It won’t only be Bilbo at home this time Harrison will need to stay home too.

We’re not novices at this BUT I can tell you that what I discovered last time round is homeschooling is really HARD. When you’re at home, kids don’t want to do school work and concentrate they want to play iPads, with their toys and “chill”. And you become parent AND teacher, not always an easy combination.

Granted last time Bilbo was on a lot of medication and was ill, so we didn’t push too hard. This time is different. If we’re going to be isolated for an unknown amount of time we’re going to have to make homeschooling work.

Here’s some of our tips and some resources we intend to use or have used in the past.

Making Working At Home With Children Work

Find a rhythm with work

Work might not be what you are used to, 9-5 may have to go out the window but you can make it work for example:

  • Rise early and put a few hours in
  • Plan tasks for the kids around your work schedule
  • Do childcare or work shifts, with your partner
  • Limit screen time so you can use it when you need to
  • Work when the kids are in bed
  • Embrace the madness. Shhhing kids doesn’t work in my experience, my boys are curious. They tend to want to come and say hi and then bore very quickly. My boys are very familiar with my work colleagues and this in turn helps them understand a little bit about what mummy does


The normal routine won’t exist but it is important to establish a “new normal” as quickly as possible. My boys thrive on routine so here are our tips:

  • School/nursery is broken up into small chunks of time. Small people have limited attention span so you need to do the same.
  • Embrace break times, lunchtime and down time – they get this at school so it should be no different at home
  • Build a timetable so everyone knows the plan
  • You’re not going to be able to follow the same curriculum so why not try out homeschooling methods let you children lead the learning
  • Create a reward chart – this can help you reward creativity, good behaviour (especially when you’re in meetings) and learning milestone
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Screen time can be good, just make sure it is limited, or structured into the day.


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It is easy to create work books, like this and have them write a story.

I am not a homeschool expert but a few things we have found useful:

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Some of these books are really handy.
  • Stock your craft box: paper, pens, scissors, glue, tape, paints etc.
  • Top up your printer toner
  • Remember rubbish can make great craft materials
  • If you’re still able pick up some phonics, maths workbooks
  • Think of some outdoor activities: Planting seeds, mowing the lawn, painting a fence. My kids love chalking on the paving slabs and drawing on the garage wall.
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Playdough is a fun activity and quite easy to make

And these are some online resources we have used or been recommended, please share in the comments others you’re aware of or like.

Museums with virtual tours: https://www.travelandleisure.com/attractions/museums-galleries/museums-with-virtual-tours

Five Minute Mum: I follow her on Instagram but she also has a webpage with lots of useful ideas and suggestions: https://fiveminutemum.com/

Homeschooling: I’ve followed Amy and her family for a while, she blogs about her homeschooling experiences and her website has lots of top tips: https://familyedventures.com/

I also follow World Travel Family, Alyson shares a lot of her experience with homeschooling/world schooling, this has more of a focus on learning whilst travelling but her entire blog is a wealth of info on countries through the eyes of her family, so worth checking out: https://worldtravelfamily.com/homeschool-and-travel/

Brainpop, a learning resource supporting core and supplemental subjects, reaching millions of learners worldwide. This was sent by a friend and I love it, I’m hoping the boys will too: https://www.brainpop.com/health/diseasesinjuriesandconditions/coronavirus/

Cbeebies: https://www.bbc.co.uk/cbeebies

BBC Bitesize: https://www.bbc.co.uk/bitesize

Pinterest: Full of useful ideas for kids https://www.pinterest.co.uk/ my favourite is Lego: https://www.pinterest.co.uk/legoeducation/

Coding: This is a great resource for all ages to learn to code (i’ve even given it a go) https://hourofcode.com/uk/learn

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This is Jurassic World

Cosmic Yoga is great for kids to exercise at home we love the Harry Potter episode: https://www.youtube.com/user/CosmicKidsYoga

Virtual Libraries:

Virtual Meet Ups

If you have access to Zoom or other video conferencing, arrange virtual lessons where your children can meet up with other kids in their class mates or friends.

Facetime and whatsapp are also really good ways to stay in touch, think of a virtual challenge or way you can embrace being virtual for the learning.

Perhaps there are work colleagues you can connect with who also have children, use this as an opportunity to learn about a new geography or culture.

Embrace the challenge

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We’ve spent a big chunk of the weekend doing a spring clean of the garden. We’ve created two dinosaur gardens.

None of this is ideal but I can tell you from experience kids are resilient and embrace change far better than adults. Make this experience an adventure, a way to learn new things in an interesting and different way.

And check back here as I update this blog with additional links and useful resources.

2 Comments on “Day 503: Managing children at home through isolation

  1. Hey thanks for posting these tips. We are on day two of isolation and just starting to get a routine together. I didn’t know there were virtual museum tours. Being part of the cancer bubble sucks!!

    1. Sending you luck Claire – i’m struggling with the psychology of being at home. But thank god for the internet!

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