How To Schedule Your Child’s Day When Stuck at Home

Links to Amazon on this blog are affiliate links*

5
(2)

Right now, most of the world is home just trying to staying healthy. People are working from home if they can, businesses are closed, and school is canceled. That means families are home wondering how to entertain their children all day!

Well, I have some good news…

  1. It is not your job to entertain your child. It’s ok if they are bored at times. Being bored stimulates creativity, and creativity is so good for all of us.
    –> Read 5 Crucial Lessons to Teach Your Child (Yes one is that being bored is ok)
  2. Your days will go fast and be managed so easily if you use a block schedule throughout the day.

A block schedule has a lot of flexibility and freedom to it, but it gives you structure throughout the day that would otherwise be lacking.

Children thrive with structure because they know what to expect and what is expected of them. Block schedules are the perfect mix of structure and independence. Your child will still feel in control of their day and be happy.

In this post you’ll find out what a block schedule is, how it works, the ideal blocks to have in your day, and I also give some specific sample schedules and a FREE printable block schedule!

What is a block schedule?

A block schedule is basically chunks of time throughout the day that have a theme or a focus.

Using a block schedule will help ensure that your child is doing a variety of things while they are at home.

Block scheduling can be used for all ages. My children are 1 and 5. I plan on using the same schedule for both children, and just adjusting the activity for each of them to be age appropriate.

The great thing about these chunks of time, however, is that you don’t need specific activities in mind, you just need the main focus and some basic ideas. Your child can decide the rest and have some freedom with their choices.

Below, I will talk about what a block schedule looks like, what activities are best to include, and you can get a free copy of the block schedule we are using! And if you are interested, you can also grab a copy of a weekly schedule guide by clicking here.

Ideas for Block Schedule Themes

Don’t try and schedule too much throughout your day. The freedom really comes when you keep the themes of these blocks broad, instead of super specific.

For example, instead of having a specific time to focus on math, instead just have a focused learning block. The focused learning block can vary each day. One day it might be reading, the next math, and maybe writing practice the following day.

I recommend having these blocks every day:

free printable block schedule for kids

Outside Time

Outside time is so good for us. Every single day we plan to go outside. Every day.

Whether it’s just for a walk, or to explore, it is so healing to be out in nature. Both of my children are much happier when they get outside time, as am I!

So, weather permitting, we will go out. And we will bundle up if need be and go splash in puddles if it’s raining.

Independent Play

Independent play is again one of the things that we can all benefit from. Our children do this from a young age and our oldest has really learned to enjoy her quiet time.

Our daughter is 5. She gets 1 hour of independent time in her room each day. She’s been doing this for probably about 3 years now consistently. She can do anything in her room. Play, rest, look at books, draw, etc. It is her “ME” time and she gets to do what feels right to her.

Our son is 1 (15 months). He hates room time when I actually shut the door and try to leave him in there by himself. He cries so hard from the moment I leave.

So, I do modified independent time with him. I let him have time in the family room where I am within sight. I stay in the kitchen, or sometimes I work in my office and give him some toys to have on the floor next to me. I am building him up to true independent time that will eventually be in his room. For now, this works. He does things on his own and is comforted by the fact that I’m close by.

Family Time

Family is so important. While we are all home together I like to make sure we aren’t just coexisting in the same environment, but rather enjoying each other’s company. Family time is just what it sounds like- some intentional family time. We might play a game, or sit together and play with the baby toys. We might read books together, or turn up the music and dance. It’s just time to be together.

Focused Learning

This is the one that everyone is really focused on right now with school being out. And, while I definitely think it’s important, I don’t think it’s as important as everyone is making it right now. Our children learn so much when they are outside, helping around the house, etc.

That being said, mental stimulation is super important, and I’ve found that my children don’t sleep well or behave well if they don’t get it.

So, some focused learning is in order.

Depending on your child’s age, you might have assigned work from their teacher. This is the time to get that done.

My daughter’s PreK teacher sent home some suggestions of things to do each day. They are super quick and simple. Each day she included a math activity, a literary focus, and a fine motor activity. So far it’s simple things like cutting, counting, and talking about the different parts of a book. We always extend the learning activity and turn it into a bit more.

In addition to the suggestions her teacher sent home, we also use these learning resources:

Reading lessons at home using the book Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons (it’s AMAZING and our daughter is now reading)!

Board games by Learning Resources (Sum Swamp for math) and (Swat it for sight word practice).

Online learning games with https://www.abcya.com/. We happened to find this website, and then our daughter told us that they use this in her PreK class. We were so happy to know it was teacher approved!

Online learning with abcmouse.com. During this emergency shutdown, you can get this membership for free by going to https://www.abcmouse.com/redeem and inputting the code SCHOOL771.

And we also use education apps (read this post for a look at what apps we’ve loved).

In the past we’ve also loved the Big Preschool Workbook, and the LeapStart system for preschool to first grade.

Sibling Time

Those of you that are working from home, write this one down. I know you need that extra chunk of time to yourself. Sibling time will make that happen. And, they need time together anyways.

This can be time outside together, or time together in the family room or in one of their rooms, but it is dedicated sibling time.

I do this with my 5 year old and 1 year old together. For us, it has to be in a safe environment for the 1 year old, so it’s in HIS room where the toys are all safe and I don’t need to be watching him.

I have the video monitor on so I can make sure things are going smoothly, but they have free play in his room and have done this for up to an hour.

Creative Time

Creative time is time to do some art. It can be coloring, drawing, painting, cutting, or creating in any sense of the word. We don’t do always do this every day, but it is a wonderful thing to do and I think it should be done every day.

For our 5 year old she gets to choose what medium she wants to use. She can paint, get markers out, etc.

For our 1 year old, this is in the form of painting with water, since he still puts everything in his mouth. LOL These water books by Melissa and Doug are fabulous!

Rest Time

Obviously our 1 year old has a nap every day. Essential and non negotiable!

During this rest time, our 5 year old starts with her independent play time (1 hour), and then moves into rest time. She does not usually sleep. Rest time for her is in bed, looking at books or quietly playing with stuffed animals. No toys allowed. No tablet allowed.

Sometimes we substitute her rest time with a movie or some TV time.

Free Play

Free play is also really beneficial for our kids. They have a chance to figure out what they are going to do and just have some fun doing ANYTHING! I find that this free play naturally happens throughout the day as we transition after meal time, so I don’t schedule this in.

What Does a Block Schedule Look Like?

Method 1: You can get super scheduled and print out a sheet with times on it and stick to it. Each block has a specific start time and duration.

OR

Method 2: You can have a list of blocks that you plan on doing each day, along with a few things that have specific times (like my 1 year old’s nap time) that you work around.

I’ve done both methods. I love both methods. Right now, I’m doing method 2.

After our daughter, April, died I came to appreciate the peacefulness of quiet and calm and stress free. I have no desire to schedule out every second of our day. I want to feel relaxed and enjoy ourselves along the way, and method 2 allows me to do that.

We have a basic flow to the day, and a couple of times that keep us on track, but we also sleep in and let activities last for however long they naturally last. We don’t force anything to be a set time and it works great for us.

Method 2 means we don’t get to everything perfectly every day. But we do most of it each day and it provides an amazing foundation and basic structure for our days. Our 5 year old knows the blocks that we tend to do, and she’s not surprised when I tell her what’s next on the agenda for the day.

Method 1 Sample Timed Block Schedule

With method 1, there are specific times for everything. Breakfast is at the same time every day. Outside time is exactly 1 hour ever day. You can print out a schedule and stick to it. Your kids will know exactly what to expect and when the clock turns you switch activities.

With each block, you obviously have some flexibility to decide what you will do. Involve your children in deciding and give them some choices.

Here is the sample block schedule we’d use with a 1 year old and 5 year old, but this can easily work for all children!

  • 7 am wake up
  • 7:30 am breakfast (free play after while I do dishes)
  • 8 am get ready for the day
  • 9 am Focused Learning
  • 10 am Sibling Time
  • 11 am Outside Play
  • 12 pm lunch (free play after while I do dishes)
  • 1 pm – 3 pm Rest Time for Youngest, 1 pm -2 pm independent play for Oldest into 2-3pm rest time
  • 3 pm – 4 pm Creative Time
  • 4 pm – 5 pm Free Play
  • 5 pm dinner (free play after while I do dishes)
  • 6 pm Family Time
  • 7 pm Bedtime for youngest
  • 7:30 pm extra night activity for oldest (We alternate between reading, math, safety talk, exercise, and writing practice)
  • 8 pm Bedtime for Oldest

Method 2 Sample Flexible Block Schedule

Method 2 is much more flexible. You do focused learning until the activity is done and then move on. If it takes longer that anticipated that’s fine! If it’s shorter, no big deal. Fill any gaps in the schedule with extra free time.

Here is the sample block schedule we’d use with a 1 year old and 5 year old, but this can easily work for all children!

  • 7 am Wake up/ eat breakfast/ get ready for the day/sprinkled in free time
  • Focused learning
  • Sibling time
  • Outside play
  • Lunch/ free play
  • 1 -3 pm Rest time for youngest /room time and rest time for oldest
  • Creative time
  • Free play
  • Dinner
  • Family time
  • 7 pm bedtime for youngest
  • 7:30 pm extra night activity for oldest (We alternate between reading, math, safety talk, exercise, and writing practice)
  • 8 pm Bedtime for Oldest

In addition to the basic block schedule above, I make note of any specific activities we want to accomplish. It might be things around the house I’d like to get done, or special ideas that our daughter has asked to incorporate.

So far our extra list looks like this:

  • Requests from our daughter
    • Paint nails
    • Learn how to braid hair
    • Bead activity
  • House projects and my list of things to do with the kids
    • Make spaghetti sauce
    • Bake cupcakes
    • Paint dining room chairs fun colors
    • Clean out and organize closets
    • Work on garden and planting seeds
    • Pick up rocks in the yard to clean it up for the season
    • Set aside rocks to paint
    • Mulch trees
    • Lay sod
    • Play with the dogs and get them exercise (hoping to do this daily)
    • Use tie dye kit if weather gets nice (we got this really nice tie dye set on amazon for a GREAT deal)

Get Your Free Printable Block Schedule

Not only can you get a FREE copy of the block schedule we are currently using and loving, you can also grab some more printables to organize your days at home.

I have meal planning printables to get you through your weeks at home cooking with ease, a weekly scheduler to help you expand upon the block schedule you are getting for free today, and if you really want to get organized, you can get the ultimate family organization bundle!

And then my specialty, is planning your baby’s day. I have a book called Baby Sleep Solutions that will get your baby on a schedule today and have them sleeping through the night quickly! With your baby on a predictable schedule, you’ll have time for yourself throught the day at predictable times! You can grab Baby Sleep Solutions on amazon at a great deal!

If you are interested in using block schedules but don’t know where to start, I invite you to grab a copy of my free printable block schedule. The times are blank so you can fill in what works for you. The suggested blocks are those that are outlined in this post. It is a great starting point for your family!

Click here to print your block schedule today!

If you are looking to get the whole family organized, you may want to check out my new ultimate bundle! This bundle includes printables for meal planning, freezer and pantry inventory, weekly schedules, and so much more! Click here to grab the ultimate family organization bundle.

How useful was this post?

Click on a star to rate it!

Average rating 5 / 5. Vote count: 2

No votes so far! Be the first to rate this post.

Follow:
MamasOrganizedChaos
MamasOrganizedChaos

Hi there! I’m Katrina (aka Mama). I am a former engineer and chemistry teacher, turned stay at home mom and mom blogger. I have been blogging since 2015, and have taken my love of engineering and science, and tried to applied many of the same methods to my parenting adventure. I am not only a hard working mom and blogger, I am the author of Baby Sleep Solutions, and have more books on the way!

I have a huge passion for Babywise and similar methods that prioritize sleep for our children. I am mom to 3 (including one angel baby that had trisomy 13). A huge mission of mine is to share her story and legacy. I am a big believer in being real and doing what works for YOUClick here to subscribe to my weekly newsletter to follow our story.  This blog is intended to be our story and our ideas- including successes and failures along the way.

You can also find me published at Today Parenting, Her View From Home, VitamedMD, Love What Matters, and The Mirror. Follow me on Facebook and Pinterest for more parenting tips and to hear more about our journey!

Find me on: Web | Twitter | Facebook