A Realistic Schedule for Kids at Home During a Shutdown | FREE Printable Guide for Moms

You don't have to homeschool during the shutdown. This daily schedule will keep kids busy and learning at home.
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As soon as I got the email, my mind started racing. My kids would be out of school for at least two weeks, possibly longer. I had already prepared for coronavirus, but the reality of being home together for an extended period of time had not quite hit me.

"What will our days be like?"
"How will I keep them busy?"
 "Do I need to homeschool?" 

I'll admit, I started to panic a little. Then I remembered how my good friend Rachael had survived a weather-related 5 week school shutdown last year, and her great advice not to panic. Reading about her experience put things in perspective, and also reminded me of one big thing.

We do this every year, when we adjust to having our kids at home for the summer.

Yes, this is different, as social distancing limits us from enjoying the perks of summer break like playdates and day trips. But the way we structure our day doesn't need to drastically change just because our kids will be home during the school year.

I re-read my own advice about making a summer schedule for kids and came up with a realistic schedule for having kids at home during the school shutdown. And I have it here for you along with a free printable guide to follow for your family.

Creating a Schedule for Kids at Home

You've probably seen a few school shutdown schedules floating around. I have too, but many of them have the days scheduled down to the hour or even minute. This has never been realistic for me (I've explained why, and what we do instead here).

What I have found to be successful is giving ample free choice time with important touchstones throughout the day: a morning routine, lunch, dinner, and bedtime routine as the most common. I've developed our daily schedule for the shutdown following the same principles, giving my kids blocks of time for screen free play, chores and activities that they need to complete, and keeping our routines as regular as possible.

I'm sharing our schedule below, but please keep in mind that this is what works for us. Yours may be different, and that is OK! You can customize the order or remove elements that do not fit your family. It is intended to be a guide to help you navigate what will be your new normal for the time being.

PS - are you homeschooling for the new school year? Check out our weekly homeschool schedule here.

Our School Shutdown Daily Routine

Morning Routine

Stick to your normal before school morning routine (but by all means, let the kids sleep!). Get up, have breakfast, get dressed, etc. This will help start the day with a sense of normalcy and get everyone started on the right foot. 

Tip: use my printable morning routine checklist for a visual reminder.

Morning Free Choice

This time is dedicated to letting your kids have screen free play time. As Mr. Rogers said, 

Play is often talked about as if it were a relief from serious learning. But for children play is serious learning. Play is really the work of childhood.

You do not need to have formal activities or homeschooling time right now. Let your kids play with LEGO, use their imaginations, create art, whatever is engaging to them. I guarantee they are still learning.


Having a fairly standard lunch time where you gather as a family is one of those important touchstones of the day. This is a time to regroup and connect (and also eat!).

Outside Time

It's important to remember that even though we are self-isolating right now, we do not need to stay indoors. Get outside, enjoy your yard, go for a walk or a bike ride. Just be cautious to avoid public surfaces (like playground equipment) and practice social distancing.

Afternoon Jobs

This is what I call our structured activity time after we've been out for a while. I'm using this screen time checklist to give my kids a to do list that they must complete before they can use their tablets or turn on the TV. 

Your list may look different than mine, but ideally it would include a mix of school work and chores, similar to what we do after school. Our list is:


When afternoon jobs have been finished, your kids can have screen time. Be sure to set appropriate limits for your family.


Keeping a regular family dinner is important for consistency. It's also a great time to let kids help in the kitchen! Keeping a kids recipe binder is a fun project too.

Evening Free Choice

After dinner, we have free choice time again. For us, this usually looks like more LEGO building, outside time, board games or puzzles. 

Bedtime Routine

As you did in the morning, stick to your normal bedtime routine for consistency. Make sure your kids are still going to bed at the same time they do on school nights and enforce any "lights out" rules that you currently have.

Get the Printable Schedule

Give your kids a visual reminder of their daily routine with a FREE printable copy of this schedule. You'll get a PDF file with two versions: one with descriptions for you, and a second that you can customize to write in your family's specific routines and jobs. 

Simply click the button below to get yours!


Click here to browse my entire library of kids' printable activities for learning and fun.

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