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Is Your Home a Bit Chaotic During The Pandemic? A Tip to Bring Structure and Calm to the Environment

by Don Arotin, Educational Consultant and PBIS Independent Facilitator, Appalachia Intermediate Unit 8

Juggling Life

The impact of COVID-19 has been extensive. It has affected everyone and most facets of life as we once knew it. With the formal declaration of social distancing and mandate in Pennsylvania that schools close their physical doors, most teachers and students were forced to experience teaching and learning in ways they never thought; virtually.

young girl juggling clocks
Image by geralt from Pixabay

On a personal level, it changed the way my family does things. My wife and I are both educators, and we have 3 sons in the public school system. During the first few days of the school closure, our boys had a lot of free time on their hands, as the plan for carrying out their studies, at home, was murky, at best. So, with no school building to attend or school work waiting to be done (yet), they embraced their newly imposed freedom. They quickly developed habits like sleeping in, staying up late, snacking all day, as well as doing other typical things boys of their age do in their free time like playing video games, listening to music and drawing. My 9-year-old even learned to juggle! As you can see, things were great for them! In their minds, it was an early start to summer vacation. In my mind, it was… different.


Blog author, Don Arotin is hosting a free webinar: Moving from the School to the Virtual Classroom: Foundations of PBIS in a Virtual Setting in the Home.


Prior to the global pandemic, our school and home routines were intact. Each of us was in sync with our daily schedule. Most of the time, everything went smoothly, everyone was content because everything was predictable. Along came COVID-19, and with each day our routines began to fade. With the school closures and the governor’s stay-at-home order, all of our life happenings were now taking place in our home. My wife and I were now working from home, and my boys were about to embark upon the world of distance learning. For my wife and me, this was somewhat of a difficult transition, as we were underprepared for helping to educate our boys in our own home. Working/Schooling from home required us to restructure our lives in order to successfully manage our current obligations.

The Need for Structure at Home

My wife and I are educators. As educators, we knew what we had to do. We needed to focus on providing structure and predictability for not only our boys’ days, but also our days. This, of course, involved creating a daily visual schedule. Being familiar with Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports (PBIS), we understood that people need and seek structure in their lives. We also knew that people, especially kids, do their best when they have predictable and consistent routines. Schedules can benefit anyone, especially individuals who lack organizational skills or those who don’t adapt well to change.

Structuring our Lives

As a family, we came up with the following schedule:

7:00 - Wake up, breakfast, hygiene, get dressed (no pajamas… ok, maybe)

8:00 - Start work day (mom & dad)

9:00 - Start school day (boys)

10:00 - Check-in Time with mom or dad (How are you doing? Do you need anything?)

11:00 - Stretch / Exercise

12:00 - Lunch & independent activities of choice

1:00 - Independent Reading Time

1:30 - Complete school assignments

2:30 - Daily summary (Record today’s progress and plan for tomorrow’s assignments, if you know them)

3:00 - End of school day

4:00 - End of work day (mom & dad)

4:30 - Dinner: Everyone shares at least one thing they learned today, or a good experience

This schedule proved to be successful for all of us, with the exception of my 9-year-old, who tweaked his schedule to wake up at 6:23 each morning, because he wanted more time to “live” before school.

So, if your home is feeling a little chaotic right now, as a family, consider creating a visual schedule. Use a piece of paper or a whiteboard to create your family's schedule. Using a clothespin to visually show where the family is on the schedule throughout the day. Your kids can help to move the clothespin too! Remember to start slowly. Maybe only the first few hours of the day are structured and then the afternoon is a little freer.

Schedules will vary among homes and individuals. Take your time in developing a schedule and make sure everyone in the household has a role in its development and use. Be sure to always allow for some flexibility in your child’s schedule as learning, no matter where it takes place, should be a positive experience.

For more information on creating structure and predictability through PBIS, visit:

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