Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Suddenly Homeschooling - Pro Tips - Establishing a New Normal

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A whole lot of people just started homeschooling, thanks to the Coronavirus, and even for those that were already homeschooling, things have changed. This is a new normal for all of us, and we're not sure how long it will last. There are other crisis situations that prompt an unanticipated start to homeschooling too - personal health or injury that keeps a student from attending school, a move out of school district, or even the decision to pull your child out of school for their well-being. Whether you're doing school at home just until your school reopens or you've jumped in for another reason, it's a major adjustment. I don't pretend to know everything about homeschooling or about starting homeschooling all of a sudden without any prep time, but what I have learned I'm willing to share. 

No matter what prompted this Suddenly Homeschooling change - school closing or personal reasons - or if you're making significant changes to your existing homeschool - it's a change to whatever you had been doing, so you'll need to get used to new routines. And make no mistake, you will need routines, and you'll all benefit from putting some thought into what those routines will look like. 

Establishing a New Normal

I'm generally pretty comfortable with making decisions on the fly, and even with being spontaneous, but without some kind of routine, I won't get anything done. Even the most freewheeling personalities need some kind of structure. Even kids. Especially kids. We already know this if we've lived through very many school vacations or successive snow days. Oh sure, the first little while it's awesome to sleep late or binge-watch favorite shows or just be lazy, but that gets old and everyone eventually winds up on edge and on each other's nerves. We do better when we have routines.

Take a break and start fresh.

If you're reading this in the spring of 2020, you've probably already had your break and are currently figuring out how to keep up with online classes or something. When starting a new routine, I've found that it's really helpful to have a bit of a break, maybe a day or two to get the lazies and crazies out of their system, and then settle down to work. 

If you're reading this because you're pulling your child out of school on your own, I do suggest taking some time off to "detox" them from whatever was problematic at school. This is especially important if something about their school experience was stressful for them. 

Treat it like a job or like regular classes.

Many colleges have switched all their classes to online interactions, meaning that students need to log in during their regular class time for a virtual class. Some schools are doing the same, although I don't know how many. If this is your situation, you already know that your student needs to be in front of the computer for the scheduled live instruction during certain hours. This will turn out to be a big help in giving your days a predictable structure.

If your school is not offering live instruction during set times, or if your switch to homeschooling is for a different reason, I strongly recommend that you settle on a daily routine and do school during that time frame. Math is at this time, followed by English, followed by History. Or whatever. If you have the ability to make those decisions yourself, put things in the order you think will work best for your kid, and tweak as needed. 

If you are working from home in some capacity or have kids in different age ranges, you'll need to decide whether students can work on their own with you nearby, or whether you need to actively supervise. Schedule accordingly. 

Don't try to multi-task. While your kids are doing school, they need to focus on school. They will be distracted by their phones, by YouTube and every other tab they can possibly open on their computer. Honestly, so will you. Take steps to limit those distractions for you and for them. 

Have kids help around the house.

If your kids already do chores - great! But I know a lot of kids that are in public school that don't do a lot to help out at home, for various reasons. Often it's because their time is taken up with being at school and then doing homework and sports and band and whatever else they do. Well, now we all have more time at home. I'm thinking now is the time to get to the projects that we don't seem to have time for during our usual week. We all know it takes work to keep a household running, so make some of those tasks a regular part of the day.

School won't take the entire day!

It shouldn't, anyway! It may take a bit to settle into your routine, but you should find that doing the actual lessons and learning activities does not take up all the hours that your child would typically spend at school. Hopefully you'll also be able to spend the extra time on a subject that needs more work or sparks more interest, and get through the "easy" stuff quickly. For more about how much time we spent on typical homeschool days, take a look at these posts from my archives:

How Much Time Do You Spend on Schoolwork?

How Much Time Do You Spend on Schoolwork? Part of the How Do You Homeschool series on Homeschool Coffee Break @

5 Ordinary Homeschool Days

5 Ordinary Homeschool Days

Need resources? Have questions?

If you are doing school at home during the coronavirus crisis, you most likely have the curriculum and worksheets and the standard resources from your child's school. You may want or need some supplemental curriculum or resources though, and you'll probably want to be careful how much you spend. Many libraries, museums, zoos, and other places are offering free resources during this time. I've seen a lot of them shared on social media recently, but I haven't compiled my own list. Free is good, of course! If you'd like to check out full curriculum and supplemental educational material, take a look at the list of my reviews of homeschool products: My Reviews page (I will be going through them soon to correct links that have changed since the original posting) or go have a look at a favorite homeschool resource, It's a very affordable option with more than 460 courses for all age and grade levels, and one membership gets you access for your entire family. Get a Quarterly Membership to take you through the end of the school year by using the code FINISHWELL to pay just $24.97 for the quarter. So much there - it is worth it!

If you have specific questions, I would love to help! Leave a comment or message me using my Facebook page. 

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