Millions of school children and their moms find themselves suddenly typing “how to homeschool” into the Google search bar. Because literally overnight the schools closed and they’re now home. What should you do? What do you need to know?
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As a former classroom teacher, now homeschooling my five kids for over a decade, I want to let you in on a few key thoughts to help you process through this transition from public school to homeschool. Then, I’ll include a massive list of freebies and links to resources that you can use.
First, this is not really homeschooling
If you’re stressed out during the quarantine and being at home all day, you’re not alone! The rest of us who’ve been homeschooling a long time are stressed out too! This is not normal for any of us.
Most homeschooled kids are out in the community, attending co-ops, music lessons, Girl Scouts, church activities, and other social meet-ups.
Also, if your public school is sending home worksheets for the kids to complete or zoom calls to jump on, then this is not normal homeschool either. It might be more similar to cyber school, but it’s not homeschool.
“Normal homeschool” is filled with flexibility in scheduling and also academic assignments. Many homeschoolers pursue hands-on learning in the early grades, don’t make their kids sit for hours with worksheets or textbooks, but rather engage their naturally curious minds with beauty.
So if you’re basing the totality of your opinion on homeschooling on your experience with it during a national crisis, know that this isn’t “normal.” For any of us.
Next, it’s okay to deschool for a bit
What is deschooling? It’s taking a few weeks to relax, find your groove, get some needed family time in, and just generally de-stress from the normal frenetic schedule.
It’s okay if the first few weeks consist of board games, hikes, tons of reading, learning new skills, playing outside, collecting bugs, building forts, inventing simple machines, building with Lego, and pursuing hobbies for countless hours. This is all okay!
Watch educational documentaries with your kids. Have heart-to-heart discussions. Let everyone sleep in.
Once you’ve been able to benefit from the slower pace and have your kids thrive without the external pressures and schedules, then you can start to pull the academics back in.
Finally, give your kids the freedom to be curious and imaginative
But what about those of you stuck at home with little kids? Don’t think that their whole day needs to replicate a day at school. Let them be little! Let them play.
You can still hit key concepts in phonics and math with a kindergartener for 30 minutes to an hour in the morning when they’re fresh, but after that, let their brain engage with play.
And also, use this time to shore up gaps in their education
If you’re just “homeschooling” for a few weeks, then you likely won’t need official curriculum and such. Instead, this is a great opportunity to work on skills and concepts that haven’t been mastered yet by your kids.
Maybe they’re pretty weak with addition facts. You can play games and explain math facts by using manipulatives so those kinesthetic learners “get it.” Check out these free Singapore math videos for kindergarten.
What if your kids need help with their reading? You now have plenty of quality time to read with your kids. Even reading aloud will be an amazing benefit to their vocabulary and comprehension skills. Don’t underestimate this!
Have your kids missed some important concepts in science or history?
Now’s the time to explore WWII with your kids via virtual field trips, talking about your family history during the 1940s, and learning about the real people who lived through this time.
Maybe your kids need to get hands-on with some science and enjoy watching a bean sprout in a jar by the windowsill. You can do a lot of science in a natural and enjoyable way. Ditch the boring textbooks and just let your kids’ natural curiosity about the world around them guide the learning.
If you’re worried about “gaps” in their education, don’t be. We all had gaps. No one learned absolutely everything there was to learn in K-12, or even in higher education. There’s always more to learn!
The goal is to raise life-long learners. So, if your kids were feeling burned out by the traditional system, here’s your chance to rekindle that fire in them and help them see how enjoyable learning can be.
In short, we will all have gaps. Public schooled kids. Private schooled kids. And homeschooled kids. But if our kids know how to learn new things, they will be just fine!
- The Only 2 Things You Need to Start Homeschooling Tomorrow
- 88 Things First Time Homeschool Moms Need to Know
What about schedules?
Some people have asked about a “schedule” during this Covid-19 forced homeschooling time. I would never advise a strict schedule. Instead, you can have a routine, which answers the question: “what do we do next?”
Do your kids know the routine when they wake up? Shower, get breakfast, do chores, etc.
Then, what should they do? Maybe you want them to read a book until you’re ready to work on math with them. That’s the routine.
What do you do after math? Maybe you review sight words or work on spelling. And so on.
What’s after lunch? Maybe it’s playtime for the younger ones or time for your teenagers to work on their hobbies, like building a computer, or learning guitar, or building a robot, or knitting a scarf.
Massive list of freebies & resources for you
So, if you’re at the point where you need to fill in some of your day with educational activities and projects, then here’s a list of (mostly) free resources for you to use.
(This post will continually be updated throughout the COVID-19 crisis)
- In response to the interruption of classroom instruction, IEW has pulled together some of their best resources to provide you with a free, completely digital, three-week program of English language arts instruction, which you can utilize to allow your students to continue learning while away from their classrooms.
- Here’s a FREE chance to take a field trip inside a great book, LitWits style. Just choose any LitWits Kit you like and use code READFORFUN at checkout.
- Kindle Unlimited – 2 months for $0.00
- The Pilgrim’s Progress – free viewing
- Adventures in Odyssey Club – 4 weeks free
- The Good & The Beautiful – language arts levels 1-5 are free
- Letter of the Week Series
- Body Systems Print & Cursive Practice FREE
- Fighting Sickness Printable Pack and Checklists FREE
- Life Cycle of a Chicken Unit Study FREE
- NASA offers tons of at-home activities for children home from school
Geography & History
- Geography Mini Lessons: Import Scavenger Hunt, Longitude & Latitude, Maps & Globes, The Earth’s Climate, and more!
- American, European & World History YouTube Channels & Videos for Kids
Art & Music
- GIANT List of Easy and Independent Crafts for Kids
- HIGASFY: Art History Video Series for Kids: Learn about a famous artist through Mrs. Beth’s enchanting storytelling. Explore famous masterpieces, stimulate your child’s critical thinking skills and nurture creativity. Every Tuesday – Friday, a suggested art activity that corresponds to that week’s video will be presented.
- Enter to win 3 FREE music lessons from Gentle Guitar entries close on April 19th
- We’re Going on a Sound Hunt! FREE Printable Spring Activity for Ages 2-8
- YouTube Arts & Crafts Channels for Kids
- Homeschool Music Lessons for K-2
- Homeschool Art Ideas for the Non-Artsy Mom
- If your teens are bored with this coronavirus quarantine, then consider letting them learn an innovative skill, start a business, and make some money! Check out online teen entrepreneurial electives HERE.
- Registration for the High School Challenge from Fundafunda Academy is OPEN! The challenge is only $5, but your teens will likely win that back (and more) as they complete challenges, earn points and win prizes – all while learning about what you need to know before you get to college! Find it on their site under Store > Contests > High School Challenge.
- Foundations in Personal Finance High School Self Study Edition – from DaveRamsey.com – regularly $119.99 – it’s only $19.99 right now!!
- Ultimate YouTube Playlist for World Geography
- Ultimate YouTube Playlist for Physical Science
- FREE Hillsdale College Online Course – An Introduction to C.S. Lewis: Writings & Significance
- Entrepreneurial & Business Courses ($249 value) for FREE during COVID-19! Courses & business toolkit by Pat Flynn of Smart Passive Income.
- FREE Butterfly Unit Study with coupon code SpringFreebie plus 30% off everything at UnitStudy.com until Easter!
- COVID-19 Homeschool Resource Archive from the Wisdom Wonder Project
- UnitStudy.com has great weekly specials
- All About Learning Press Boredom Busters! – When you’re stuck inside with your kids—especially for an extended period of time—you probably look for activities that help combat boredom AND provide educational value at the same time.
- 30 Virtual Field Trips with Links
- 50+ Virtual Field Trip Ideas
- FREE World Book Membership
- 24 FREE Virtual Tours & Learning Resources For Your Homeschool
- Casting call for kids ages 8-13 who love to bake! Food Network’s Kids Baking Championship is casting for the upcoming Seasons 9 & 10 of the show despite the craziness going on in the world. More information on the show can be found here: https://www.foodnetwork.com/shows/kids-baking-championship For a chance to audition, parents can fill out an application for their child here: https://bakingchampionshipcasting.castingcrane.com/ The casting process is done entirely online. If producers want to move forward they will be in touch to discuss additional details.