How to homeschool kids (and stay sane) while schools are closed

With the kids home from school and parents working from home due to the novel coronavirus, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. While we all do our part to help decrease the spread of COVID-19, the toll of having all of our weekly and daily routines upended can be stressful for the entire family, particularly for children. Here are eight easy-to-follow homeschool tips that will help parents get organized and reduce stress while entertaining and educating kids at home.

1. Choose a room or area of your home for you and your child to do school work.

It’s helpful to designate a specific area of your home for your child to study. An area with the least amount of distractions, with a desk or table, and where there’s plenty of natural light. 

2. Declutter and organize your homeschool space.

With home and school combined in the same space, a functional organization system is essential. Gather and organize your child’s school papers, books, computer, supplies, etc. in your designated homeschool area. One homeschool parent used wire baskets to keep school books and folders tidy. You can also use paper dividers and desk organizers to keep your child’s schoolwork organized and maintain a decluttered and creative learning space.

Get homeschool organization inspiration here.

There’s no one way to organize. So, color-code, file, group, stack … whatever system works for you, just make sure your child’s academic essentials are gathered and tidy in the area of your home that you picked to homeschool. A little bit of organization can go a long way when juggling homeschooling, working from home and keeping your sanity while the world seems to go crazy. 

How homeschool mom of 5, Jen Mackintosh, stays organized

3. Review the learning instructions from your child’s teacher. 

Most schools are providing learning instructions to inform parents of academic expectations and help them keep kids on track. Start there so you can build your homeschool schedule around it. If you have any questions or haven’t received instructions from the school, email your child’s teacher.

4. Build a homeschool routine.

We all know how important a reliable routine is for kids. So, during this temporary homeschooling phase, try to craft a weekly routine that incorporates as much as your child’s school routine and your home routine as possible. In the event the current disruptions to daily life make this unlikely, it’s okay to create a whole new routine that works for your family, just so long as it’s one your child can follow with ease and consistency.

How do you create a homeschool routine?

  • Add academic due dates to a monthly calendar. If you don’t have access to a paper or digital calendar, you can use a notebook or piece of paper to draw a monthly calendar. Referencing your child’s learning instructions, begin to add due dates to your calendar for school assignments, projects, quizzes and tests. 
  • Add other important dates to the calendar. After you add all the academic due dates to your calendar, start to add your personal deadlines and important dates (e.g., reschedule dentist appointment, work conference call, clean house, etc.). This will give you a big-picture view of everything you have on your plate so you can make a realistic plan to stay productive without being overwhelmed.
  • Break down your monthly calendar into a weekly schedule. now that you have all the important dates filled in your calendar, you can create a workable weekly routine to homeschool your child. (We’ll go into creating a weekly work-from-home routine later.) Similar to filling in a calendar, you can use a weekly planner, weekly schedule pad, notebook or piece of paper to map out homeschool tasks for each day of the week. For example, if on your calendar you have “online quiz” each Friday of the month, you can add that to your weekly schedule and include study sessions and quiz prep on Wednesdays and Thursdays. 
  • Break out your weekly schedule into daily tasks & to-dos. Don’t try to include granular task details in the weekly schedule. Keep it simple and save detailed tasks for daily to-do lists and lesson plans. Once you’ve established a strong foundation of monthly and weekly planning, your daily planning can be as simple as a checklist of things to accomplish that day. That way, you’re able to adjust any daily activities to keep up with rapidly evolving current events. 

5. For parents of younger kids.

If your child is too young to read, try using icons, pictures or stickers to help them understand and follow their homeschool routine.

6. For parents of multiple kids.

Bouncing between multiple kids, multiple learning levels and styles, not to mention multiple curricula and lesson plans can be a lot to handle, especially under already intense circumstances like a global pandemic. Try designating a more mature child to be your teacher’s assistant for the day and alternate with younger kids being your special helper.

7. Stay consistent.

Once you’ve established a homeschool routine, do your best to stay as consistent as possible. Given the global state of affairs, this will be a challenge. So, even if only one thing remains consistent, like reading at the same time every day, that can give kids something to rely on and alleviate some of the disruption and stress caused by the coronavirus. 

8. Reward your child (and yourself!) for a job well done.

Anytime your child turns in an assignment on time, does their best on a quiz, makes a genuine effort to adapt to the new homeschool routine, reward and encourage them to keep up the good work. Stickers, colored markers, high-fives, a star or happy face on the calendar, earned screen time, go for whatever works for you and your child. And don’t forget to reward yourself for being an awesome parent doing your best during extraordinary and unprecedented times.

Learn more about homeschooling organization tips & tools on our Homeschooling Resource page.

Visit our Inspiration Center and our blog for more tips and tools for creating lesson plans, getting organized reducing stress and staying productive. 

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