Homeschool Tips For Non-Homeschoolers During Coronavirus School Closings

Sometimes we have to homeschool when we least expect it, and with schools closing all over the world for Coronavirus prevention, parents that didn’t expect to be in the educational driver’s seat currently find themselves at the wheel. I homeschooled for 7 years and have now moved my kids in public/charter school for the last 4 years, and I would love to share with you some great homeschool tips for non-homeschoolers for while your kiddos are at home.

First of all, do not panic! They are your kids after all, and they’re out of school during the Summer, so this isn’t totally new. You know each other. You like each other. It’s going to be ok, I promise. You can do this. I will help you.

You will not be choosing curriculum or making lesson plans, because really you’re not actually homeschooling. Rather, you are remote schooling. So I hope you find that reassuring. I just want to help you schedule and structure your day a bit to help you through the curriculum each day that the school has already provided. 

School at home does have a different pace than school at…. well, school. Stay with me here because I have experience with both. You know when you’re running on a treadmill, and you get off, it feels crazy for a minute until you adjust to the still world? Having the kids at home for school will feel this way at first because it is a totally different pace of life, and the change will take some adjusting. I think when homeschooling, the kids are like a constant drip of water all day, but when they’re at public school it’s more like being sprayed by a fire hose in the afternoons.  

12 Homeschooling Tips For Non-Homeschoolers

  1. Schedule and routine are key. You need to be flexible if your original schedule or routine needs adjustment (I mean if you have no experience yet, it may take a little trial and error to figure out exactly what works for you) but you definitely want to set some schedule guidelines. Here is a simple morning routine that may help you start planning. 
  2. Get dressed in real clothes. Not just the kids, you also. Have it be part of the routine we just talked about. 
  3. Have a dedicated learning space. You can choose a place in your home where the kids will do their school work. You don’t need student desks, for years my family homeschooled at the dining room table which worked well for us. You might have a folding table you could temporarily pop up somewhere for now. 
  4. Collect some basic supplies such as pencils, a pencil sharpener, scissors, paper, and possibly something to color with and have them in a holder that can be placed in the area during school time.
  5. Plan for breaks. Kids don’t actually sit and work for hours on end. The public school teachers build in time to stretch or move around the room and they alternate between different activities to hold the children’s attention. A child’s attention span is probably less than what you are assuming. Check out this list of average attention spans per age
  6. Limit screen time in way that doesn’t drive you crazy. To keep kids from constantly nagging you about screens, have guidelines that save you from the headache. I find time guidelines to work well (example: no screen time until after lunch). But my favorite way of limiting screen time is to say that for certain days of the week or certain hours of the day, I allow educational screen time only. I provide my kids a physical list that I tape near the television of what shows and/or apps qualify as “educational”. I always include the religious stuff on the lists. Also, when the weather is good I just straight up tell them no screens for the day. 
  7. The homeschool day goes a lot faster than the regular school day. It’s just how it works. Homeschooling is very efficient. Your elementary kids will likely be finished with their work by lunch time each day. For you it will just depend on what the teacher is providing for remote schooling. 
  8. Alternate the hard and easy work. Like we talked about with the attention span, you can’t just expect the kids to sit down first thing in the morning and pound out all of the really hard book work first thing all in a row. The best results will come from mixing it up.
  9. Give the kids some control over their schedule. I suggest providing your kids with a list of everything expected of them in the morning, and letting them have some control over the order they do it in. In general, choice is motivating and it can help them deal with transitioning to this unexpected sudden change in their life.
  10. Put their chores right on the checklist with their school. Also, include the chores into the daily routine. It is all a part of their responsibilities for the day. I love Amy’s list of age appropriate chores for kids! 
  11. If you are dealing with little siblings, provide them with special toys and/or activities during school time that they do not have access to during the rest of the day. This will help keep them extra occupied while you work with the older kids. I have a whole post here about how that process works in our home.
  12. Routines quicken as people get used to them, so go ahead and expect that. Getting through the day will take a bit longer at first while you are adapting, but it will quicken each day as your family gets the hang of it.

A Few Extra Tips For Mom’s Sanity

  • Required silent reading time. You can get a nice chunk of quite time in the middle of your day. Unlike the rest of the schedule that the kids have some flexibility with, require quiet reading time all at the same time. If you have littles, this aligns with nap time whenever that starts. I have lower elementary kids do 30 minutes of personal reading time per day, upper elementary 45 minutes, and middle school and up do 1 hour per day. 
  • Required outside time. They do it at school. It’s called recess. As long as the weather allows, it’s ok to tell them how long they’re going to play outside, whether or not they want to. 
  • Enjoy your time with your kids! I know that this wasn’t anyone’s first plan, but it is a blessing to have some extra time with the kids, regardless of what else it is costing you. I miss the together time that my family had when we used to homeschool more than anything, so enjoy this little side adventure where possible. 

Keep checking back as I will have more homeschool resources for non-homeschoolers soon! Stay safe and healthy out there. Love you guys! 

Easy Religious Ed Program For Catholic Kids At Home

If you’re looking to teach Religious Education at home with your kids together, you may want to check out my easy notebooking option! For each lesson, you just read a 2 page spread of a picture book and complete an open ended notebooking page. The 130 page pack also includes a lot of alternative page options for pre-writers. At home Catholic RE couldn’t get easier than this!

You can find the rest of my homeschooling resources for families here.

Comments

  1. Thank you SO much!!! This is feeling like a big virus free hug and pat on the back. Home School starts Monday. At this point we don’t have resources from the district, so it is going to be quite an adventure.

  2. What a fabulous article! I needed this. Thank you very much, Lacy!

  3. Thank you, Lacy. I’m most excited about adding a Religion block to my kids’ daily schedule since they normally attend public school. We have no resources or direction from our district yet either but I’m sure it will be coming. I’m grateful for the plethora of free online resources for all ages out there. That has been such a blessing! And for mommas like you who share amazing ideas and best practices with those of us who have suddenly become homeschool moms. Thank you so very much and God bless you and your ministry!

  4. I agree thank you so much this gives me a good starting point while I try to balance working from home at the same time.

  5. Peggy Hernandez says

    Thank you this is very helpful ! I am a Grammy that has the grandkids living with me. I have taught ccd for 25 years and you have always been one of my go to spots.
    You have helped me a lot.

  6. These are great tips and certainly useful. However, what if you have a special needs child, one that needs hands-on assistance with not only computer-related methods, but reading comprehension, math, etc.? My daughter requires a lot of support to get through almost every assignment ( especially these e-learning / distant leaning classes/assignments). It’s only been two days so far, but we have averaged a total of 5-6 hours each day – just doing the workload with very few breaks and lunch squeezed in there. Any suggestions? Thanks!

    • I do not have experience working with special needs children, but I do know that you aren’t alone and this isn’t forever. So for now you just have to do whatever needs to be done day to day to get through this, and long term, you should go right back to having the support that you need from the community. I would say if it’s too much work each day to break it up more and be willing to do some over the weekends or your Spring break week when you won’t be receiving extra work.

  7. Mary Ann Klein says

    Dear Lacy,
    You are absolutely incredible. Your ideas are so motivating and creative. I love your crafts and purchased the beautiful “Picture Book of the Mass” for all of my Faith Formation students. I’m wondering if you have taught any Faith Formation classes on-line and if you have, I’d love to hear how you managed teaching remotely. I’m not sure if I’ll be asked to teach my second grade class on-line in the Fall and would appreciate any ideas you have. Thank you for spreading God’s light in all you do.

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