It’s March 20, 2020. I live in California which means that as of yesterday, our governer has ordered Californians to stay at home. We now have 1,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in our state and 19 people have died. And all across the globe, families are suddenly and unexpectedly homeschooling. If you’re wondering how to homeschool during a crisis like the one we’re currently experiencing, you are not alone!
These are strange and scary times.
We are in uncharted territory.
I continue to hear words like unpredictable, unknown, and unprecedented.
My family (along with countless others!) is currently “sheltering at home”.
Not exactly comforting for those of us who enjoy plenty of control.
What I really want to do right now is sit down with a cup of tea and ask you how your heart is holding up. Find out how your children are doing. Are they missing their friends? Their teachers? And how is your stress level? Is there a mild undercurrent of anxiety or have you found moments of grounding despite the ever-changing landscape we’re navigating?
But of course, we can’t sit down together with a cup of tea.
Because “social distancing” and “elbow bumps” are our new norm. Terms we likely never used (or had even heard of!?) now weave their way seamlessly into every conversation we have.
Again, unchartered territory.
This post is intended for those who are wondering how to homeschool during a crisis.
So if you’ve found yourself unexpectedly homeschooling in the midst of the current coronavirus pandemic, you are in the right place!
Those of us who have been homeschooling for years, know all too well the ebbs and flows of educating at home. We’ve had time to assess what’s working, adjust over time, figure out what’s working and what isn’t.
But for all of my friends suddenly finding themselves unexpectedly homeschooling while sheltering at home, there has been no time AT ALL to asses and adjust.
Who could have prepared for something like this!?!
I know that school districts and teachers are still putting systems in place and testing how this virtual format is going to work for the foreseeable future. And no doubt, there will be plenty of bumps along the way.
But we truly are in this together.
People have been asking me how in the world they’re supposed to homeschool their kids during the coronavirus pandemic.
First, I think it’s essential that we understand that this is truly uncharted territory. Therefore, none of us know what’s going to happen from day to day, or even from hour to hour.
We have to surrender control.
We have no other choice.
Second, if your children have been attending a traditional school, the transition to homeschooling will require plenty of flexibility as you shift to a completely different way of life.
I want to offer you some reassurance.
First, I promise you, our children WILL continue to learn (a lot!) while they are sheltering at home!
Countless families across the globe have homeschooled, (and continue to homeschool!) their children successfully.
Here’s what’s critical for you to understand:
Learning at home often looks really different than learning in a classroom setting. In my family’s early years of homeschooling, it took me a while before I completely grasped this concept. I often tried to recreate a classroom-like setting, only to feel like I was failing when I didn’t get the outcomes I was expecting.
Because homes and classrooms are very different places!
So here’s a tip for you: understand that this time of learning at home isn’t supposed to look like a classroom setting. But this doesn’t mean your child won’t be learning!
Now here’s some really good news: Homeschooling doesn’t take nearly as long as traditional schooling!
When you add up the time spent getting to and from school, classroom management, and transition time from one subject and activity to the next, homeschooling takes WAY less time!
And while each family’s routine and approach will vary depending on their family’s dynamic, I do want to provide you with a general routine that I hope you’ll find helpful.
How to homeschool during a crisis
Here’s our daily game plan:
Step #1 – Morning Check-In
Prioritizing family relationships is critical to a strong homeschooling foundation. It is essential in everything we do. If a family member is going through a challenging season, not feeling well, or struggling in an area, meaningful learning is NOT going to happen!
Start the day by spending anywhere from 10-30(ish) minutes checking in as a family. This is also a nice time to journal for a little bit, if this works for your family. Note: You can sign up below for a FREE Journal for Kids (there’s also a version for tweens & teens) that is a fantastic tool to use during this uncertain time.
You could do this at the kitchen table over breakfast, or snuggled up on the couch. Allow everyone to share how they’re currently feeling as well as any specific interests they’d like to pursue that day (see “Passions & Curiosities” below).
Then review how the day will flow (based on the following steps).
Step #2 – Tackle the “core” subjects
I’m a fan of the “let’s get the tough stuff out of the way!” mindset. It’s worked well for our family over the years. What is considered “tough” will vary, depending on which subject(s) your child finds challenging. For my daughter, this is her math and for my son, it’s often writing.
While this approach works well for lots of families, I also know homeschooling families who like to ease into the day by doing one of their favorite activities first.
So please, do what works best for your family!
If your children have recently had their school close, they likely have assignments from their teacher(s) to complete. But if you’d like additional suggestions and resources, please see the specific categories below.
Be sure to take breaks if moments of frustration arise!
Step #3 – Read!
This could be independent reading, reading aloud, or a combination of both.
I realize that this will be an easy one for the kids who naturally gravitate towards books and maybe not as enticing for those who don’t.
If you’re struggling to get your kids on board, look for audiobook titles that sound appealing to all of you. Then, as you listen to one, have your kids draw, paint, play with modeling clay… anything they can do quietly with their hands while listening.
And while I’m biased, (avid reader here!) I truly do believe that EVERYONE has the potential to be an enthusiastic reader. So if you’re struggling to ignite a love of reading in your child, (or yourself, for that matter!) check out the resources below for recommendations. Perhaps you simply haven’t found the right book yet!
Check out these resources for inspiration:
- 10 Great Books to Read-Aloud With Children
- Best Adventure books for 9-12-year-olds
- 25 empowering books for girls
- Poetry – Quick Resources List (for young kids all the way through teens!)
Step #4 – Online Learning
If your child is already doing the bulk of their learning online due to the current need for distance learning, you could certainly skip this step. If it feels like overkill because you feel like they already have enough screen time, then feel free to move on.
There are SO many fantastic ways to learn online! In fact, now that my children are both teenagers, they do the bulk of their learning online.
The important thing is to keep this online learning time intentional so that it doesn’t turn into mindlessly scrolling, clicking, and surfing.
Again, skip this step if you feel like your child is already maxed out with online learning.
If you’re looking for excellent resources for online learning, check out FREE Online Resources for Homeschooling!
Step #5 Dive Into Passions and Curiosities
Honestly, this is my favorite time! This is when you have the opportunity to explore various passions and curiosities.
Perhaps your preschooler is obsessed with trains. So you gather up all of his toys, books, and puzzles on trains while playing a “Thomas and Friends” playlist in the background.
Maybe your tween is interested in learning more about marine mammals. So you have her check out the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s website and take advantage of all of the FREE resources they offer online.
Your teen might be eager to learn more about baking, so he watches The Great British Baking Show and bakes a pie.
And don’t forget about yourself either!
Be sure to spend some time pursuing one of your passions or curiosities!
Now PLEASE don’t feel like you must have a passion. Passion can sometimes feel loaded and intense. Plenty of people don’t necessarily feel a strong passion about anything in particular, but they do have little curiosities here and there about different things.
If that’s the case for you or your children, great, start there!
Choose something that sparks just a little curiosity and dive into it.
If you or your child are feeling stuck, use these questions to guide you:
- What is one book I’ve been wanting to read that I never seem to have the time for?
- What is one movie I’ve wanted to watch or show I’ve wanted to stream?
- Who have I been meaning to catch up with?
- Is there a recipe I’ve been wanting to try?
- Is there a creative project I’m interested in pursuing?
OK, here’s a quick recap:
how to homeschool during a crisis
Step #1 – Morning Check-In
Step #2 – Tackle the Core Subjects
Step #3 – Read!
Step #4 – Online Learning
Step #5 – Passions & Curiosities
Ultimately, when this bizarre and unsettling time has come to an end and this time of sheltering at home is long gone, how do you want to remember these days?
I know that plenty of fear, boredom, sadness, tension, and irritation will continue to arise. But we also have a unique opportunity for creativity, connection, kindness, compassion, and hope.
Will we take the time in the coming days to create a cozy environment, stretch our imaginations, learn new things, and settle in? Will we spend meaningful time with our family and connect virtually with loved ones? Are we willing to extend kindness and compassion instead of resort to fear and panic?
How do we want to show up?
Who do we want to be?
In the coming days, please reach out to me if you have any questions or concerns. And don’t forget to sign up for your FREE Journal for Kids (including a tween & teen version!).