homeschool children in front of chalkboard holding paper with drawings

How to Homeschool During a Pandemic – Advice from a Homeschool Parent

March 27, 2020

The transition between traditional school and homeschool can be difficult for all involved. There will be unusual emotions. Figuring out what makes your child sit up and say “wow” can take a while. So with this being a temporary situation, focus on the basics: math, language arts, and SAT vocabulary for high school students. The rest can come naturally through exploration, books and even tv shows.

This is all new for your child(ren). Home isn’t for school! So maintaining a schedule can be difficult. Find what works best for your family, then be consistent. If math at 8am induces crying, try starting later. While I don’t suggest waiting till evening to do the work (too easy to put off) some families find it better to start later in the day.

Timers are a huge help with schedules and motivation. If math isn’t finished during math time then move on and come back to it. Unfortunately, sometimes you have a child who fights the schedule every day. It is work. You know your child best. Positive motivation is better but consequences have to happen. Don’t give in to whining, be consistent!

You don’t need an official classroom or desk. Find where you’re child can focus best. It may be a desk facing a window or a blank wall. It may be in a tent under the kitchen table. They may need to fidget or move around. Lying on the floor drawing pictures of what they hear while you read to them is note-taking and a totally valid way to learn. Just have them explain the drawing to make sure it’s not Godzilla destroying the city when the lesson is about the Mayflower coming to America.

There are so many resources for homeschooling. Entire books have been written on this topic! A Google search can be a rabbit hole. Be as specific as possible in your searches. Keep it simple to start. If your family likes to read or be read to, I love Sonlight for a literature-based curriculum. Check out their catalog for book ideas for the topic you are studying then go to the library (or Amazon). If your student was sent home with workbooks or textbooks, use them. If your child’s learning style is more ‘hands-on’ try making lapbooks/file folder books. They are a fun way to show what was learned. This is also a great time to explore special interests like crafts, hiking, animals, motorcycles, etc. Involve kids in chores and cooking. Remember, they are learning. Beware of wanting to try all the fun stuff at once. It will be overwhelming for you and your child. Don’t demand perfection, just true effort.

To break down the curriculum, decide how many days in the remainder of your school “year.” Will you end in April or July? How many days per week, and consider how long your child can focus per subject. Then it’s just a division of chapters, topics and time. For example, 180 days of school with 18 chapters of math to cover is 10 days per chapter. Divide the info into smaller chunks if you need review and/or testing days. If you want to school for two hours a day with five subjects then divide the time. Spelling won’t need as much time as math so the division of time doesn’t need to be even.

Socializing during this time will be a challenge with the government deciding what gatherings can happen. A lot of the normal homeschool socializing outlets aren’t available. Technology can help keep you connected. Find a virtual Lego group, singing class or coding class. Amazon Future Engineers and many other online classes are being offered for free to support parents during the pandemic.

The best, and sometimes most overwhelming, thing about homeschooling is that you can do it your way. Homeschooling is typically a full-time job. Pairing it with working from home is challenging but can be done. Remember, this is temporary. Decide what the priority is for you and your family. Is it important to connect with your family and be together, or is it important to maintain school studies to avoid fog brain when school starts again? My best advice is to hit the basics, make it fun and enjoy this time with your kids!

Shawna O’Driscoll is a certified professional organizer and senior move manager with Abundance Organizing. She homeschooled her children who are now young adults. Team members from Abundance Organizing have been asking her for advice on how to manage homeschool during this pandemic. Her advice has been super helpful so we wanted to share it with you. Feel free to post questions for Shawna below in the comments.