Work-At-Home Bilingual Homeschool Schedule with 2 Kids (Printable)

Work-At-Home Bilingual Homeschool Schedule with 2 Kids
Preparing a simple Chinese activity while my son reads a book

Many of you have asked what a work-at-home schedule looks like while homeschooling 2 kids bilingually.

Now, thousands upon thousands of you have been thrown into this situation.

Everyone is wondering “How can I work from home, teach my kids, and keep them entertained everyday?”

First, breathe!

Give yourself grace as you find a new rhythm for your family.

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In this post, I’ll share:

  1. Our transition to working at home and homeschooling life
  2. Benefits of Montessori-inspired 3-hour work blocks
  3. Sample work-at-home parent bilingual homeschool schedule
  4. Printable homeschool schedule template
  5. Encouraging the minority language
  6. Tips for work-at-home parents who are homeschooling young kids

1. Transitioning to homeschooling while working at home

Work-at-home life

Six years ago around the time my daughter was born, I transitioned from full-time academic pediatrics to working-at-home as a medical writer.

Initially, I continued to see patients part-time but eventually dropped clinical care to focus on medical writing and now managing this blog.

Over the years, my writing hours have ranged from part-time to overtime.

Bilingual homeschooling Chinese and English

Bilingual homeschooling

Meanwhile, my 6-year-old daughter has been attending school part-time 2 days per week, which meant I have been homeschooling her part-time.

My 3-year-old son has been tagging along with informal – but still very important – learning through play.

Usually, we have a nanny 2-3 times/week on the days my daughter goes to the hybrid school.

However, our nanny has not been able to come for several months, so I have been working from home while homeschooling my kids.

If you’ve been following us over the years, you’ll know that it’s taken trial and error to figure out what works, especially as the kids grow and their needs change.

On days when I wonder if homeschooling was the right choice (now there is no choice), I remind myself the benefits:

  • Maximizing time for speaking minority languages
  • More bonding time for me and both kids
  • Learning at child’s own level and pace (eg, our hybrid school was able to accommodate grade-skipping)
  • Efficient learning schedule means more time for free play

I’ll share what we’ve learned and what helps us survive and thrive now.

Work-At-Home Bilingual Homeschool Schedule with 2 Kids

2. Benefits of Montessori-inspired 3-hour work blocks for homeschooling

A daily routine is incredibly important but there needs to be breathing room, too.

In contrast to traditional schools where lessons are scheduled by the hour or even more frequently, I’ve found rigid time limits to be counterproductive with young kids.

Our day is roughly divided in 3-hour blocks (with the exception of nighttime):

  1. 早上 (Zǎoshang / MORNING) – Work or play
  2. 中午 (Zhōngwǔ / MIDDAY) – Kids’ quiet time while mommy works
  3. 下午 (Xiàwǔ / AFTERNOON) – Play
  4. 晚上 (Wǎnshàng / EVENING) – Wind down
  5. 夜晚 (Yèwǎn / NIGHT) – Kids sleep while mommy works

The blocks are inspired by Dr. Maria Montessori’s observations that children (ages 3 and up) have more time to delve deep in their learning before switching tasks.

Three-hour time blocks also gives room for flexibility for the whole family.

For example, if the weather is better in the morning and everyone is cranky, then we will postpone homework and start the day with play.

It also gives kids the chance to focus on a school subject longer rather than jumping from one topic to the next.

Challenging Schedule: 2-and 5-Year-Old Kids Learning 3 Languages

Until you come up with your own work-at-home homeschool schedule, here’s our template that you can adapt from.

3. Sample work-at-home bilingual homeschool routine

Here is our general homeschool routine when I work at home without our nanny.

Some adjustments have been made to make being with the kids 24/7 more bearable.

Note that typical activities like swim, soccer, piano, Chinese lessons, and play dates have all been suspended due to social distancing.

However, previously, these were spread out throughout the week so that we were not rushing to so many places in one day.

Work-At-Home Bilingual Homeschool Schedule with 2 Kids (Printable)

Block 1: 8am-11am 早上 (Zǎoshang / MORNING)

Our day has been starting later due to the recent daylight savings time.

However, usually everyone is awake by sunrise.

  • First things first:
    • Before my kids wake up, I try to give myself some time to read a bible verse to start the day with the right mindset.
    • Then I quickly skim through emails, social media notifications, and the news.
    • I go through a mental to do list of the day, while eating breakfast before or with the kids.
  • When the kids wake up, they usually want to play together for a little while before they realize they are ravenous.
    • Then it’s time for their breakfast routine:
      • Eat
      • Drink water
      • Bathroom
      • Brush teeth
      • Change clothes
  • Homework time (if too cold outside)
    • 6-year-old does:
      • Math and copywork independently
      • Spelling, grammar, literature, and history with mom
    • 3-year-old does 1 or 2 of the following:
      • Plays with open-ended toys like blocks, little cars, animal toys
      • Low-prep Chinese activities (eg, sticker matching, sticker tracing, highlighter tracing, hide and find games)
      • If he’s antsy, water play (with pipettes!) and homemade play dough tend to capture his focus and give him a much needed sensory experience.

My 6-year-old usually finishes her homework in less than 1-2 hours. Many homeschoolers typically finish academics faster than a traditional full-day school.

For my son, here are 35+ Fun, Easy Chinese Activities (Listening Speaking, Reading, Writing) that I prep the night or just make up on the spot.

This makes him feel special, because he’s doing work with us.

Block 2: 11am-2pm 中午 (Zhōngwǔ / MIDDAY)

  • Lunch: My son usually helps me prepare a simple lunch while my daughter practices piano or wraps up homework. These meals take less than 30 minutes prepare, and then we pray and eat together.
  • If we head out, my son will take a car nap.
  • If we stay in, my son will (hopefully) nap in his room while my daughter has reading/quiet time in her bedroom. Backup plan if he won’t nap: quiet time with sister. This is when I can get some work done and check emails.

Block 3: 2am-5pm 下午 (Xiàwǔ / AFTERNOON)

This block is for free play indoors or outside.

  • If the weather is nice, I try to take them hiking, ride scooters, or play soccer so they get lots of energy out. (We’re cautious about finding empty places where we can be careful about social distancing to minimize infection risk.) When we get home, clothes go straight in the hamper. We shower immediately to prevent bringing germs into the house.
  • If the kids are playing inside, they usually build forts, play hide-and-seek, do puzzles, or play board games. I don’t usually plan anything for this time and let them figure it out. But if nap time was a struggle, then I’ll prepare something special for my son to thank him for sticking to quiet time.
  • Then they are expected to clean up everything. I remind them that if they want the privilege of these things, they must put things back where they came from.

Block 4: 5pm-9pm 晚上 (Wǎnshàng / EVENING)

As we wind down for the evening,

  • Eat simple dinner (son often helps)
  • Light chores (eg, wipe dining table, vacuum/sweep, fold laundry)

If we didn’t get to go out, I’ll try to sneak on my indoor bike while the kids play next to me.

Bedtime routine consists of:

  • Changing to pajamas
  • Brushing/flossing teeth
  • Story time: usually the kids will read 1-2 stories with Luka Reading Robot and then another couple books with me or my husband.

Block 5: 9pm-8am 夜晚 (Yèwǎn / NIGHT)

After the kids go to bed, my husband and I are on our computers working, often past midnight.

First, my husband and I catch up about our days. Then, it’s time to read the news and tackle a mountain of messages.

Once a week, we do telephone bible study with my brother-in-law who’s a pastor and my sister-in-law.

When my daughter was younger, I would also use the night to prep a Chinese learning activity.

Admittedly with my son, I often prep on the fly as I’m too busy working at night.

But if this all new to you, spending time the night before can help make the next day go a little easier.

Work-At-Home Bilingual Homeschool Schedule with 2 Kids (Printable)

4. Printable work-at-home homeschool template in English and Chinese

Click on the following links below to download the work-at-home homeschool template in your desired language:

You or your child can write in the tasks or use Post-It note strips to move certain tasks around as needed.

If you have Adobe pro, you can edit the schedule to type in your child’s name(s) and daily routine.

In addition to your to-do list, create a visual daily routine chart for your child to help them through transitions.

Click here for printable daily routine charts in English, Chinese, and Korean!

5. Encouraging the minority language

In order to teach our kids the minority language, I try to speak Chinese as much as possible throughout the day.

The exception is when we read the bible or my daughter’s homework.

These resources are in English, but we try to discuss concepts bilingually.

6. 10 Tips for work-at-home parents who are homeschooling young kids

Here are 10 survival tips for work-at-home homeschooling parents based on our experience.

How are you coping with work-at-home homeschooling life?

What are your children’s ages and what are you juggling with now?

Have you come across other tips that have helped your family?

Juggling work while making sure kids are fed, clean, healthy, and educated can sometimes feel like a circus.

Remember to give your family time to adjust and to process everything.

We are all definitely learning as we go, and we can encourage each other!

More about bilingual homeschooling as a work-at-home parent

Sending love to all of you, friends!

7 Comments

  1. Hello There,
    Thank you so much for creating this website. I’m totally awe-struck and crazy inspired by your dedication to prioritizing chinese and korean! I am second generation chinese. My parent only spoke broken English to me because they rejected being chinese and my grandma spoke Cantonese to me till she died when I was 12. I went to China to live for two years and became conversational in Cantonese living in Macau and fluent in conversation in Mandarin when I did a 6 week crash course in Beijing Language and culture university. Fast forward to now. My kids are now 10 and nearly 7 and I feel as though I have failed them! We decided that they would learn Mandarin since it may be more useful to them and they attend Mandarin chinese school on Saturdays taught by mostly ethnic Taiwanese teachers. I have lost most of my Mandarin and life got busy and I stopped learning with them. I hope to start up again now that I am home and just do what I can. My question to you, is how do you work out? When do you find the time? Since self-isolation, I’ve been trying to get up at 6 to sneak in a run but last night I was up all night talking to people online checking in on them since they live in different time zones. Very impressive work and you have reinvigorated my motivation to continue on this journey chinese learning journey. You are truly inspiring. Thank you again for sharing this fantastic website to the world.

    1. Hi Elsa! Thank you for taking the time to write and share your experience and question! I’m so glad to hear the website has been helpful for your family! Please don’t feel like you have failed them. There are just so many things to learn in a finite amount of hours, and if it’s any reassurance, I forgot Chinese for about 15 years, so it’s never too late.

      As for exercise, when my children were younger, I had a hard time getting motivated and didn’t work out for a while. Now that my son is 3 and super active, I try to take the kids out on scooters and jog behind them. We were going on hikes a lot before the trails were shut down. I also try use an indoor bike a few times a week. Sometimes they will sit next to me and play, or I will do a short ride after they go to bed. I’m definitely not a morning person and have not been able to wake up for a workout in years!

      Glad to connect with you and hope that your family stays safe and healthy during this time!

  2. Hello. I try to escape everything that is commonly done here in Brazil. Often children in general spend many hours in front of the TV, tablets and cell phones. They eat while watching TV. I have a hard time organizing myself. In spite of this, I have tried and managed to do many different things since my oldest daughter of 7 years old was born and now with my son of 4 yo, he was born at this rate. I like routine and schedules. You have helped me a lot. Thank you for sharing.
    Luciana

  3. Hi Betty,
    Thank you so much for sharing your bilingual journey in this blog. I really enjoy reading your posts as it gives me inspiration to speak in mandarin to my toddler daughter. I was born in Taiwan and attended primary school until grade 2 before we move to Australia. Throughout schooling, I attended Chinese school on Saturdays that was taught by mainland Chinese teachers and learnt simplified Chinese and pin yin. Unfortunately, I didn’t maintain my Mandarin for the past 16 years ever since I started work as a professional. My question to you is, how did you decide whether to teach simplified or traditional Chinese characters? or pin yin vs bopomofo? I am more fluent with pin yin.

    We have recently moved to rural Australia for my husband’s work and reading about your homeschooling journey inspires me. I was wondering if you could share some information and resources on the topics/contents that you cover with your son and daughter? How do you decide on what topics to teach?

    Thank you

  4. So many of my values have come to me through discovery and experience. 4 years ago my knee blew out from severe arthritis ( Early onset @ 38 years old). My 2 boys were 9 and 1 years old at the time. This Problematic Knee was the catalyst for change in my life and i pursued a different career. One that would present me with more intrinsic value. I would spend the next year as a stay at home father of two while rehabbing my knee/self and enrolling into college. My first Term went well and i enjoyed the social aspect, second term was extremely difficult for me as i transitioned to online classwork, with 2 children now not in school or daycare has created tension and a lack of planning our days has created missed work, stress, and fatigue. My second year of school starts in Sept(online) and i needed to find this site!! I am so scared of tackling 4 courses, 2 kids(maybe part time school? We do not know the structure yet.), one international student and a 5 bedroom home. As i said earlier i have so much respect for anyone raising children(Healthily). I value those keen on the development of their children. Thank you so much for this site. i needed to see a real family schedule that could actually work. This is it!! deep breaths. Here we go!!

  5. How do you get your 3 year old to play on his own? My little one is two and most days won’t play on her own or do the activities that I give her without someone next to her or doing the activity along with her. Always ”妈妈陪我玩!”

    How can I get her to play on her own? Do you have any tips?

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