Due to the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic, many parents and students are being told to stay home so they can reduce the spread of the virus. But this has led to some bewilderment over how parents can effectively homeschool their children while schools remain closed.
If you, like so many other parents, are completely new to homeschooling, then you’ve come to the right place. In this article,
we introduce to you the eight best homeschooling tips
, from how to set up a good homeschool schedule to why it’s important to go easy on yourself in this trying time.
8 Essential Homeschooling Tips and Tricks
The following homeschooling tips are geared toward parents who must educate their child or children from home as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak. Whether you’re already a stay-at-home parent or a working professional confined to your house, these homeschooling tips and tricks are sure to make your and your child’s lives a lot easier.
#1: Follow a Schedule—but Be Flexible
One of the most important homeschool organization tips is to come up with a reliable and steady routine.
Although this doesn’t need to be as strict as a normal school day—say, with English class from 11 am to 11:50 am and 10-minute breaks between classes—
should be generally consistent and work well for both you and your child
Having a daily routine will help to prevent your child from feeling as though they can simply start school whenever and wherever. You don’t want them to view this period away from school as an extended spring break or summer vacation!
At the same time, it’s OK (and in fact encouraged) to be flexible.
If your 5-year-old just
isn’t in the mood for math one day, try giving them a little more time to focus on a different activity that’ll hold their attention, such as learning how to draw animals or listening to a story being read.
Here’s a sample daily homeschooling schedule for a child in elementary school:
Monday, April 20, 2020
|8:00 am||Wake up, get dressed, eat breakfast|
|9:00 am||Math (practice worksheets 4-6)|
|10:00 am||Arts and crafts|
|11:00 am||Science (follow along with science experiment video)|
|1:00 pm||Silent reading|
|2:00 pm||Spanish (Duolingo and Quizlet)|
|2:30 pm||Chores (vacuum, fold clothes, weed garden)|
|3:00 pm||School ends|
If you need help making a homeschooling schedule, try to
look for samples online
. Many people have posted their own schedules on Twitter and Instagram,
such as this one
Instead of dividing up your homeschooling schedule by subject, you could designate specific time slots for creative activities, academic review, quiet time (i.e., reading and writing), chore time, and so on. The point is that
you shouldn’t feel pressured to perfectly recreate your child’s day-to-day schedule because this just isn’t practical
With less time needed for transitions between classes and a completely new learning environment with different resources available, you’ll likely be able to finish the school day in less time than you anticipated. And that’s OK!
What’s most important is the progress your child makes
and that they are on track to learning the skills necessary for them to thrive in both school and everyday life.
#2: Carve Out a Dedicated Study Space
At school, the entire building is used for learning, and students know this. But at home, it’s
harder for kids to get into learning mode: after all, they’ve got all their usual comforts and plenty more distractions, from TV to the pantry to the family cat.
For your child’s sake, make sure you carve out a dedicated study space in the home that they will associate with learning rather than relaxing. This doesn’t have to be an entire room or anything—
just a modest space at the dining room table or a seat at the kitchen countertop will do
Make it clear that
during (most of) the day and that you expect them to work on their assignments, activities, and projects there. When they’re on break or at recess, they can (and should) go elsewhere.
#3: Use a Variety of Top-Quality Teaching Resources
Tons of resources have been made available to homeschooling parents in light of the coronavirus pandemic, so take advantage of what you can find online as well as offline.
Here are some of the best free online resources you can use to homeschool your child:
Our SAT/ACT blog has loads of articles on math, English, and other major subjects for middle school and high school students, as well as some articles on educational activities geared toward younger children:
A free educational site offering numerous instructional videos and easy-to-follow explanations for a variety of school subjects
3,000+ talks on topics such as technology, business, science, and global issues
Full science lessons for students in kindergarten to 5th grade
Scholastic Learn at Home
Daily projects and reading assignments for kids in grades 6-9
A variety of free activities for children aged 1.5-6 years old
A three-month curriculum containing videos and exercises for kids in grades 3-12
A free, fun, and popular language-learning platform with 30+ languages available
Math curricula for students in grades 1-8
An AP-oriented website for high school students that includes an array of features, such as live reviews, trivia battles, and study guides
One of the best websites for making and using digital flashcards
Additional resources you can use to homeschool your child include the following:
- Read-alouds/storytelling videos
- YouTube videos showing science experiments, teaching types of math or languages, etc.
- A journal for creative writing
- Novels and books for silent reading time
We also recommend
getting in touch with your child’s teacher or school to figure out what your child was actively studying
before the coronavirus hit and whether they have any materials or recommendations for resources you can use to support your child’s learning at home.
For very young children, you might consider making your own worksheets and flashcards to teach them their ABCs, numbers, addition/subtraction, shapes, animals, etc. (Or you could just
download some free pre-made worksheets
#4: Personalize Lessons and Activities
Tailoring your homeschool curriculum to your child’s specific interests and
is a great way to keep them engaged while still teaching them something new and useful.
For instance, does your child enjoy exploring nature? Then have them go out to the backyard every morning to water the plants and tend to the garden. You could also have them record the different flowers or insects they find in a notebook and work on identifying them later.
Or maybe your student enjoys writing; in this case, you could give them a couple of hours each day to write short stories, which they’ll later turn into a portfolio of their best work.
Does your child enjoy cooking? Have them make lunch or dinner for the family, or ask them to pick a recipe they want to try and let them go at it in the kitchen while you supervise.
For older children, have them work on a long-term passion project
for which they can conduct research, write a report, and present their findings.
Pretty much anything can be turned into a unique learning experience, and your child will likely be the most enthusiastic about school when they’re actively engaging with something they’re truly passionate about.
#5: Give Your Child (and Yourself) Plenty of Breaks
You can’t expect to (and shouldn’t) keep your child cooped up all day studying, especially if they’re in elementary school or younger.
Part of a child’s education comes from being able to play outside and use their imagination, so
be sure to set aside plenty of time for recess if you have a young kid
. This can also count toward a physical education “class.”
One of our major homeschool organization tips is that, while there’s no minimum or maximum number of recesses you should give your child, it often works well to give them a couple of shorter 10- to 15-minute breaks along with a longer half-hour recess around lunchtime. You might also designate certain recesses as indoor or outdoor time.
For older students, give them 10-minute breaks or so between periods
or about every hour. Encourage them to go for a brisk walk on any longer breaks, just to get their blood pumping and keep their energy levels high.
And don’t forget about yourself!
You, too, deserve breaks, both from homeschooling and work.
It’s OK to take a short break to scroll through your newsfeed, go for a walk, or text a friend. Self-isolation and homeschooling are challenging, but you
get through this!
#6: Try to Limit Screen Time, If Possible
With so many apps and online learning resources available, it can be tempting to toss a tablet to your child, let them have at it for a few hours, and then call it a day.
But too much screen time can make learning monotonous and overall uninteresting. Young children especially need as many opportunities as possible to work on improving their hand-eye coordination and interpersonal skills.
One way to limit screen time for a young child is to
forbid the use of any screens (i.e., phones, tablets, computers, and TV), during specific times of day
and have them focus on non-screen-related activities, such as any of the following:
Arts and crafts
- Music and dance
- Going for walks (with adult supervision, of course)
or journaling about their days
- Silent reading
- Worksheets for school subjects such as math, spelling, etc.
If you can’t limit screen time, don’t feel guilty
—this is a strange situation we’re in and it’s not very practical for most parents to actively monitor their child’s activities as they themselves work from home. Ultimately, do what you have to do to keep your child busy and, ideally, learning.
#7: Praise Your Child Often
You’re not the only person being forced to adapt to a new schedule and a new routine, so be as understanding as you can during this crisis. It’s a trying time for your child, too!
This is why
it’s so crucial that you consistently praise your child and tell them what they’re doing well in when it comes to school
and their handling of this new learning environment.
For example, did your 4-year-old go a whole day without throwing a single tantrum? Tell them how proud you are of their maturity and patience.
Did your teenager have a huge breakthrough in algebra without your help? Explain how impressed you are by their self-reliance and problem-solving skills.
Remember, your child doesn’t have their usual teacher or performance markers, so you need to be sure you’re giving them
when they do their best.
#8: Be Kind to Yourself
This is a strange time, with everyone having to stay home and quickly acclimate to an entirely new day-to-day lifestyle. You probably didn’t expect to be homeschooling your child any time soon. It’s OK to feel unprepared or overwhelmed. After all, you’re entirely out of your comfort zone!
remember that you’re doing your best
, so be kind to yourself during this period. You’ll have good days and bad days, but that’s totally normal (and certainly expected)! Hopefully these homeschooling tips for beginners makes it easier.
Got a teenager who needs to improve their vocab?
Get them started with
our list of 260+ SAT vocabulary words to know
Arts and crafts are excellent (and highly educational) ways to pass the time.
Learn how to make tons of fun and interesting crafts with our guide