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Planning and Play: the keys to working from home

As seen in our other blog post about cognitive control, parents should incorporate play into a student’s daily routines. However, time at home can quickly turn unproductive if students don’t have a set routine. Using schedules and creative EF activities, parents can ensure student success at home. 

Parents should use extended play prompts to increase cognitive control and other executive functioning skills in younger children. Are you missing your favorite restaurant? Ask your child to open the restaurant at home and to pretend his favorite people are coming to eat. He could practice writing by making signs and taking orders, math while adding up the bill, and time management while serving multiple tables. Consider a few prompts to have handy.

As a family, read aloud to each other. Let your students tell you, without correction, what the chapter revealed to them. Have them draw pictures that tell the story. For older children, have them copy a page from the book. This is a great time to learn grammar and punctuation. Try incorporating a theme of the week as you all explore independent reading. Over dinner, each person can contribute to the conversation based on their readings. Watch the weather together — Journal about daily statistics. Learn public speaking skills by creating a video. Discuss other regions or parts of the world over dinner. Explore geography while capitalizing on their interests.

Students should have a daily schedule to keep them productive. We can use the suggested activities above, combined with school activities, to create a pretty awesome daily plan. 

Bonus tip: If your child is younger, let her draw her schedule to help reinforce planning skills. 

Here is an example schedule:

8:30 Breakfast

9:00- Online Check-In

  • Use this time to make a plan to accomplish learning goals.

9:30 Activity 1*

10:30     Break

  • Take a ten-minute snack break. 

10:45 Activity 2*

  • For younger students, incorporate extended play and clean up.
  • For older students, encourage them to engage in a hobby that is fun, relaxing, and not in front of a screen such as a quick card game with a sibling or a crossword puzzle.

12:00 Lunch

  • Before enjoying lunch, tidy up the workspace. When you return later, you will be ready to go.

1:00 Independent Reading

1:30 Movement

  • Spend time taking a walk.
  • Find an at-home workout.

2:00 Activity 3*

  • For younger students, consider a drawing prompt, workbook activity, or science experiment.

4:00 Free time

6:00 Dinner Prep

7:00 Family Dinner

  • Evaluate what went well. Let your child lead the conversation and evaluate himself.
  • Have conversation prompts based on readings.


  • Sleep is necessary to function, retain information, and stabilize emotions. Maintain a consistent sleep/wake cycle to be your best!

*Build-in mandatory school activities during these time blocks. See our previous posts about planning and prioritization for more tips. 

During this turbulent time, structure is crucial. Students should develop habits and routines to stay at their best. That being said, we want to avoid burnout by scheduling breaks and time for play. For more information, check out our other blogs or check out our services page to set up a one-on-one coaching session.

Evan Weinberger


Staying Ahead of the Game offers unique academic coaching & tutoring services to help good students achieve greatness.

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