There are many reasons someone might find themselves suddenly homeschooling. But at this moment, there’s really one main reason.
With schools closing for weeks (or longer) around the world, many many parents are facing the idea of homeschool suddenly.
Many parents who have never even given homeschooling a second thought.
Four years ago, I was the parent suddenly homeschooling again. My two older kids had been back in public school for about a year. And we were planning to homeschool again the following year.
But something happened and in less than 12 hours we decided to homeschool again. Suddenly.
I understand where you’re at right now and some of what you’re probably feeling.
So let’s get in motion and get you ready to teach your kids.
Get Your Quick Start Guide
This will help lead you through the next few steps with a pretty printable.
How to Homeschool Your Kids Suddenly
Step 1 – Breathe.
I’m serious – take a deep breath. I need you to understand two fundamental things right now.
- Your kids are going to be fine no matter what. You are not going to screw up their schooling in the next few weeks. They are not going to fall behind or miss out on anything crucial.
Three to six weeks is a blip of time, in the grand scheme of things. It might not be the plan, but they will be fine.
- No matter what you do, it’s not going to be the same as school. I’ve seen many parents bring their kids home to school and they expect it to be school at home. That’s just not a realistic expectation.
School is different than home. Please don’t beat yourself up for your homeschool not looking like regular school.
They may get more done – they may get less done.
They may be more distracted – they may be less distracted.
They may miss out on social interactions – they may not.
There is no one size fits all kind of homeschool and there is no perfect system that works for everyone. So your experience at home will not look like anyone else.
So take a deep breath because this is going to be okay. You don’t have to know everything today. ‘
Step 2 – Make a Plan
Almost everything works out better when you have a plan in place.
My first question would be – what are you expected to do during this time? Does your child have school work to complete that was sent home by the school? Will they have online classes? Are you expected to do all the schooling?
Let’s start by writing down a list of your expectations.
What do you absolutely need to get done?
What would you love to get done?
What is the minimum you can get done?
If you can get clear before you start, it’ll make the process easier. Know what you want to accomplish but also keep an eye on the minimum you can get done.
This is not the time to beat yourself up for not accomplishing lofty goals.
This is the time to be realistic and be happy with progress.
Involve Your Kids
I firmly believe that every homeschool runs better when kids get to share their input into what they learn, how they learn it, when they learn it, etc.
So involve your kids. Ask them if there is anything they’d like to learn about that they might not have been leaving about at school.
Ask them how they prefer to learn or learn best (books, videos, worksheets, etc).
Talk to them about what’s going on and what their expectations are while they’re not in school.
And then write it all down in the worksheet I’ve created just for this. You’ll appreciate having a reference point later on!
Most people seem to focus on curriculum first. And that’s fine. I find it the most exciting part of any new homeschool plan.
Even if you don’t find it invigorating, it can be helpful to get it written out.
In the worksheet I’ve included the core subjects and then blank spots for you to fill in.
You might want to add music, art, foreign language, STEAM, or any number of other subjects.
Unsure of where to start with curriculum?
If your school/teacher is sending home work you don’t have to worry about this at all! You might choose to fill this out with books or resources you’ll need for these subjects.
If you don’t have curriculum provided, you need to choose how structured you would like to be.
There are options like Khan Academy and IXL that will cover the core subjects for you online. You don’t have to do anything but make sure the internet is on and your children have access to the internet.
Don’t get too in-depth at this point. Just write down your basic curriculum or source for each subject.
I’ve created a list of homeschool curricula that can be started TODAY. These are almost all online programs, but there are a few ebooks included.
If your kid’s school has not placed any expectations on you or your children, I’m going to encourage you to just not. Don’t pick a curriculum. Don’t create an overly scheduled plan.
This is destined to be a stressful time. There’s so much we don’t know about the future at this point.
So don’t stress yourself out more.
Have art materials available.
Keep books out.
Play board games or video games.
Just let your kids be kids. A few weeks with no formal schooling will not hurt them.
And letting them be free to explore their own interests might actually be really beneficial.
Step 3 – Create Your Schedule or Routine
The best productivity tool I have to recommend is a schedule or routine.
Kids thrive on routine and predictability. Heck, adults thrive on routine and predictability.
A note of caution – do not overschedule. Like we discussed earlier, you are not going to be able to replicate school at home. So if you’re tempted to schedule your homeschool like math from 9 to 10, a 5-minute snack break, science from 10:05 to 11:05, bathroom break, etc. Don’t do it.
In fact, I’d encourage you to consider a routine instead of a schedule.
What’s the difference? The difference is that a schedule is static. You do this and this is when you do it.
A routine is more of a flow. It’s flexible and moldable.
For example, our daily routine consists of loose time blocks. My kids aren’t allowed to play video games until 3 p.m. and they’ve finished their school work.
Before 3 p.m., anything except for video games is fair game. They can complete their school works as fast or slow as they please.
They typically wake up by 9 a.m. I expect for them to make their own breakfast. But if they’re not hungry, I don’t force it. Sometimes they’re hungry a bit later and choose breakfast at 10.
About noon I try to remind them about lunch. Sometimes they forget to eat and get cranky. So I try to remind them.
I usually have an idea of what they’ve completed just by existing and listening to them. So if I notice someone has done very little school work and it’s getting close to 2, I remind them of the time and the expectations.
During all of this time I am usually working.
They don’t always finish their schoolwork by 3. It’s not always peaceful and serene. And I don’t always get enough work done.
But the routine works more often than it doesn’t and it’s predictable.
Your routine will vary greatly based on your kids ages, how many kids you have, how independent they are, what you hope to be doing at the time, etc.
Some routine options:
- Set up blocks of time and expectations. You might have a ‘play outside’ block. Or a ‘craft time’ block. And of course a ‘school’ block. You might choose to break it down further. But I’d encourage you to err on the side of flexibility.
- Use a daily planner to write down you general schedule. Plug in meal times and any other times that might be set in stone (i.e. online class times). Then fill in the blanks with anything else. Be very careful not to overschedule. Less is definitely more.
- For kids that are old enough/independent, enough consider not having a set routine at all. Let them develop their own natural rhythm. Some kids – especially teens – work better at night or at unconventional hours. Working with their natural rhythm will be a much smoother existence.
Things to keep in mind when setting up your routine/schedule.
Be mindful of your own capacity. How many kids are you taking care of? If you have 6 kids and one is a newborn, don’t expect to work with your 3rd grader for 8 hours a day.
Make sure to have plenty of breaks. While kids are at school for 8 hours a day, they’re not doing school work for 8 hours a day. There are many transitions, breaks, recesses, and general downtime.
Step 4 – Just do it
You’ve got a plan, you’ve picked your resources, and you’ve created a schedule.
You’re all set!
Go forth and conquer.
And remember – if it’s not working, follow the plan again.
No plan is ever complete. We make a plan, test it out, tweak, and try again.
You might need to go through this process a few times.
You might need to change your expectations.
The good news is – this is temporary. You’ll either find your new normal or things will go back to the old normal.
Remember to breathe, take every step as it comes, and just do it.
Finding Your Homeschool Support Online
Now more than ever we need to be finding homeschool support. And given the current events – that specifically means online. There are many places online to find support. But the easiest is Facebook.
I highly encourage anyone who is suddenly finding themselves stuck at home to reach out to a friend (online) or find an online support group to join.
You’ll likely want a place to vent, laugh, get advice, or just commiserate before this is all over.
But if you type in ‘homeschool’ to facebook, you’ll find a lot of results.