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Hi I'm Suzy, the host of Run Lift Mom!

Run Lift Mom is an audio podcast uplifting women and guiding mothers through their fitness journey. Episodes feature expert interviews in the topics of running, strength training, and motherhood.

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Successful At Home Learning with Stacey Barnes


In this episode of Run Lift Mom podcast, we speak with an experienced Educator about successful at home learning with Stacey Branes, PreK, K-5 Teacher, Masters in Moderate Disabilities and Special Education.

Stacey was nice enough to write out an entire guest blog for me about this subject. Thank you, Stacey!

Set the tone

Set the Tone – this is a very challenging time for everyone but for children it’s frightening and confusing. If you are stressed, overwhelmed or in a bad mood, your children will be too. 

Children are looking for reassurance that they are safe. If you make that effort to be calm and happy, your children will respond positively.  


Maintain a routine.  This is so important. Most children do better with consistent predictable, daily routines and schedules and when their expectations are clear.

Keep a strict bed time.  Children need to feel like there is still structure, in a time where there really isn’t any.  


Create a schedule with your child for at home learning.  Most classrooms have daily schedules. Children do better with predictability knowing what comes next.  Make a visual of your schedule either with words or pictures. Go over your day each morning and refer back throughout the day. 

Set (flexible!) goals

Each day of at home learning, create a list of 3-5 tasks (no more than 3 tasks for children in K-2).  This is setting your child up for success allowing them to clearly see the expectations of the day. 

Allow them to cross out or put a check besides the tasks as they finish to give them a sense of completion and satisfaction. 

Allow for flexibility. Do not force anything- there is no reason to get in a struggle with your child to do their work.  If you feel like your child is resisting, take a step back and come back to it later. Remember your families routine will look different than other families. Do what works for your family!

It’s important to remember that doing at home learning does not and will not look like a traditional school- don’t stress. Create a quiet space for your child to do their work- they don’t need a duplicate of their school.

Keep in mind traditional school has about 20-30 children in a class, transitioning from classroom to classroom or subjects, lunch and snack, and special subjects like P.E. and Art. 

At home learning should not be 6-7 hours long. Your K-2 childen should spend no more than 2 hours of schoolwork, 3-8 no more than 3 hours. Create breaks for your children and allow time for exploration, play and rest! Pssst- you need a break if you’re working from home as well!

If I could tell you only one thing to do each day is to have your children read.  Set aside time for your child to be read to, read with, or independently read.

Encourage your children to tell you about what they are reading, make predictions about what they think will happen  – you can quickly check on their comprehension by quick conversations and chats during lunch or dinner.  

Get outside and have fun

Go on nature walks, hikes, bike rides, play in the dirt. 

For older children, encourage exercise and outdoor activity like shooting hoops, throwing the ball around, going for walks, lifting weights.  

Set aside family time each day for a minimum of 1 hour: play outside, play board games, have a movie night.

Teach life skills

Use at home learning time as a “gift” – usually we are too busy carting kids off to school then soccer practice grabbing groceries.  Use this time to teach your children life skills.

Incorporate them helping around the house – folding laundry, doing dishes, yardwork, wash the car, etc.  Teach them to cook – make lunch or dinner together and let them help. You can incorporate math lessons while you are cooking. Teach your children how to sew or plant a garden.

Independent time

-No matter what age your child is we all need quiet time.  Allow your child to play quietly and independently in their room, read a book on their own, do coloring or crafts, play guitar with headphones, or watch a show/play on ipad with headphones.  This gives you time to get done what you need to get done. Whether you are a stay at home parent or working parent, you have responsibilities too and you need to structure your day to allow you to get done what you need to. 

You do not need to entertain your child ALL day long. Give them independent tasks, allow them quiet time – these are important life skills too. Remember you may need your own quiet time too during this challenging new normal.  It’s ok to take a minute for yourself and regroup.  

Online learning and screen time

Most students will be doing their work on an online forum. It’s great that we are still able to connect with our teachers and peers.  

I am a big believer in limiting screen time especially for our younger children.  But I do believe that we need to be reasonable and realistic with our expectations during challenging times.  We can only be so creative with our resources sometimes the screen is better to teach certain things. Be smart about screen time

Limit what I call “recreational screen time” which includes video games, non-educational websites and games, movies and TV.

I recommend no more than 1 hour a day on those times of screen times, with some exceptions.  The other screen time is what I refer to as “educational screen time” whether it be educational games and websites, educational programs on TV or activity driven screen time like Wii.  

Older kids may have cell phones.  This is tricky! Most schools do not allow children to use their phones during school hours.  Stick to that rule.

Activities for young learners

Sight word practice – flash cards, practicing sight words with chalk, play doh, shaving cream, magnet letters, wiki stix. Use old magazines or newspapers and cut out sight words or letters

Letters – go around house with clipboard and sheet with alphabet and find as many things as you can that begin with those letters (draw pictures or write words)

Math – sorting household objects by size or color, sort snacks (give them a snack mix and have them separate the pretzels from the goldfish from the m&m’s and count/graph/tally)

Cooking (measure, count, record), build something (any project that requires counting, measuring, adding, multiplying (for older children), legos (ask your child how high can you build that stack of legos, how many legos do you need to reach the coffee table, can you make a square? A rectangle?

Talk about the shapes they make, play board games that involve counting (chutes and ladders, candy land), play card games, make a map of yard or house 

Art – use objects around house to trace and make an art project, use old magazine or newspapers, paint, go outside and draw nature

Online Resources

ABC Mouse (preschool- age 7)

Adventure Academy (8-13 year olds)

PBS Kids

Reading IQ

Scholastic Learn at Home

Lakeshore Learning


Beanstalk classes


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The podcast episode associated with this post is made possible by your support of my own training offering,  ZYIA Active business, and a partnership with Woofy and Red H Nutrition (use RUNLIFTMOM to save 10% on anything).