Who’s suddenly finding themselves being involuntary homeschoolers?! I have some friends whose kids are already home and some who are preparing for it.
I’m here to give you some tips for being sudden homeschoolers from those of us who certainly aren’t perfect, but maybe just used to it. Here are some things that can help you in the process!
1. Don’t panic. You can do this. Set a start and end time. Make a school day and don’t forget lunch and recess! Oh and they will eat more food…they’ll act like little hobbits who need elevenses and second breakfast and tea time. Just saying. But the beauty is, you can eat meals together. At breakfast, share what you’re excited about for the day or how you’re going to make the day great, and at dinner, share what you’re grateful for and what went well that day.
2. Don’t think it’s going to take all day. Remember, there isn’t a whole class of kids who all have a question at the same time, and it doesn’t (probably) take 20 minutes to get the whole class to the bathroom.
3. Get your kids involved. “What would Mrs. _____ want you to do?” “How does Mr. _______ teach things like this?” Maybe let them teach YOU some.
4. IT IS OK TO PROTECT YOUR QUIET TIME! My children are not supposed to talk to me (unless it’s an emergency and they need to go to the hospital ;) ) when I’m in my blue chair and my book is open. It. Is. Ok. for you to tell them to go play in the other room while you sit and read or pray or workout or whatever you typically do for yourself throughout the day. For sure not for three hours straight, but Sesame Street is (at least used to be) 45 minutes long.
5. It’s also alright for them to watch some tv. Not all the tv, and it’s fine to say it has to be something educational: Planet Earth, a historical documentary, Magic School Bus, Word World, etc.
6. Do a craft…..or don’t. It’s fine for you to do something fun and value the education in it. Go on a scavenger hunt outside to see what’s growing that you haven’t seen in your rush through the days. Bake cookies or bread together. Get them in on meal planning and help plan the menu…and cook! For the week! But for the love…if you feel that glitter is an abomination like I do….don’t include it in your homeschool.
7. Take breaks! Remember at school they have recess, class changes, bathroom breaks.
8. Give them some extra chores.
It’s not punishment. It’s the natural consequence of being home. They’re making more mess, so they’re going to have to clean up more. But they do the same at school. They clear their place at lunch, they clean up their space in their class, they have to clean out their locker periodically, and put things away between activities. We have morning chores (yes some barn chores, but feeding the dog, emptying the dishwasher, and making breakfast are on there too), after meal clean up, and 4:00 chores (these are picking up, sweeping, starting dinner, etc.). Put on some music…even the youngest one can help. My 18 month old loves to “put away” silverware and my 5 year old can “kind of” sweep the floor.
9. Enjoy the validity of the older ones helping the younger ones. You don’t have to answer every question. An older sibling can read directions to a younger one while you read with someone else…or while you are making lunch. It’s like study buddies.
10. YOU DO NOT HAVE TO ENTERTAIN THEM! The first few days might be a little rough with some complaints of boredom (or if you’re entertaining them, you’re going to be exhausted), but believe me, boredom is the Mother of creativity.
You’ve got this. God gave your kids to you on purpose. It wasn’t an accident. Yes, this is different and likely temporary, but it’s going to be more than just okay. It’s a gift of time and proximity and you can make it amazing!
Editor’s Note: Originally published April 2020.