We are living in interesting times! When we started our own homeschool journey 12 years ago, I never would have thought that homeschooling would become mandatory for a everyone for a time! I think back on all the hard won lessons I learned when we first started – mostly learned the hard way. I don’t envy all of you who have suddenly been thrust into homeschooling against your choice.
When I started, I had time to plan, check out curriculum, research styles, and go to the library. All these years we’ve had access to parks, museums, support groups and fun field trips. You all have had no chance to plan or research and all the museums and libraries (!!!) are closed.
For every homeschooler out there, there is a different way of making it work. I thought I’d share some periodic tips of things I’ve learned the hard way. They might work for your family, or they may not. There’s no one “right” way to do this. Every family is unique and every child is unique.
Tip 1: Structure and Routine over Schedule
Some sort of structure is helpful for everyone – kids and parents! It helps everyone to know what’s happening when. It also creates a sense of normalcy and predictability, especially in a time as this where everything feels very uncertain and unpredictable.
Although coming up with a clock-governed schedule is appealing in theory, I’ve found it very difficult to implement at home, especially with younger kids. Sometimes projects or subjects take longer or shorter than we had planned on, or kid questions lead to wonderful rabbit trails we hadn’t predicted.
A routine is structure that’s not governed strictly by the clock. Maybe after getting up in the morning, everyone gets ready for the day and does some morning chores (more on chores in a future tip). Then maybe a couple school subjects happen in a consistent order in the morning. When those are done, there’s a break for a snack and some time outside. Then some subjects after the break until lunch.
It’s also helpful to have certain landmarks or mile markers throughout the day. A mid morning break (around 10am?) is a good landmark. Lunch is also a natural landmark. An entire day looming in front of us can be quite intimidating! Placing those landmarks at intervals throughout the day makes it feel much more doable.
Many families, even after the days of afternoon naps are long gone, still implement an after lunch quiet time. It could be a video, independent reading, or just some quiet play in a bedroom. Parents need a break and some quiet time themselves!
With our teens, they also have a consistent routine, but theirs is more time based. They’re ready for school by 8am, work on math for an hour, then history for an hour, etc. Our goal is to prepare our kids for life as adults, where they’ll be expected to get to work on time, attend meetings at a particular time, etc. Sticking to a timed schedule to a point is a life skill.
If you are new to all this and have any questions you’d like answered, post them in the comments. What are you finding most challenging so far?