homeschooling during quarantine

 10 tips and tricks I’m learning while homeschooling my four children. I have four boys that range in age from 6-16 years old. With a child in high school, junior high, elementary school, and kindergarten, it’s been a bit of a circus trying to meet the physical and emotional needs of each child. Here are ten tips I’ve learned along the way!

#1. Schedule, Schedule, Schedule

Finding a schedule that works for your family is imperative. In our home we are not early birds, but we are definitely more productive when everyone is dressed, fed, and ready for the school day as normal. Here is an example of our school day:

  • 7:45am – wake up: get dressed (showers are easiest at night), rooms clean, chores started.
  • 8:30am – School day begins (realistically we are making breakfast while class starts)
  • 11:30am -1pm – Lunch and recess (does your school district offer grab n’ go lunches? If so take advantage of this fabulous service, one less meal to make and clean up and we are supporting our local community)
  • 1-3pm – School
  • 3-5pm – Outside/ chill time
  • 5-6pm – finish homework, if needed, start dinner
  • 7pm – family time
  • 8pm – reading/ bedtime (younger kids)

#2. Arrange Typical Class Periods

I have noticed for my Jr. High and HS students it’s been helpful to stay on the same typical bell schedule as school. Working on one subject for too long can become overwhelming. Stop after the 60-90 minute class period and move to lunch, or a new subject.

#3. Difficult subjects first

This may seem like a no brainer, but If we start math at the end of the day… we are GONERS!

#4. Ask family to help

Homeschool Tips: grandpa helping my son with his reading

I have found my kids work better with adults that are NOT their parents (shocker). We all have grandparents, family members, or friends that are home quarantined. Set up a ZOOM or Face time call and ask them to help with school work. They can read a book, help with an essay, math problem, etc.

#5. Work space

Homeschool tips: kindergarten boy learning math in quiet space

Using headphones with computers and having a quiet, de-cluttered work space has worked best for us. Focus is always better when we have fewer distractions. This is especially true for my son with ADHD. He actually works best with headphones on listening to music then he does without headphones and hearing every distraction (phone call, dog, chatter, random noises teenage boys make for no apparent reason). 

  • Our HS student has his own separate desk space upstairs (younger kids are downstairs where I can keep a closer eye on them). I cleared out a drawer to give him a “locker space”. Now we don’t have backpacks everywhere or papers covering the desktop. 

#6. Community Resources

The schools in our area have offered laptops to students if needed. I found that after the first week of homeschooling 4 kids with only 3 laptops, we could use an extra. The kids all have their class scheduled calls, email sign-ins, etc. Having to juggle laptops was an added frustration. Plus, our kids have LOVED having their OWN laptop (for now), personalizing their school websites, emails, pictures, etc. * we love using Chromebooks, especially for younger kids. They are affordable and indestructible.

#7. Organization

I went to the dollar store and grabbed plastic bins for each child to put their papers, computers, headphones, books, etc. in. They are responsible for charging their devices after the school day and keeping everything in their bin. (This tip is probably more for my OCD, I can’t stand to have papers everywhere)

  • Having fully stocked supplies on hand is a MUST for our school day. This can include: highlighters, colored pencils, markers, crayons, glue, ruler, math compass & calculator, sticky notes, and most importantly sharpened pencils and erasers.

#8. Balance

Break apart the school day with inside vs. outside time and computer vs non computer time. Even if it’s just getting the mail or taking the dog for a walk. I notice my children start to break down after more than 90 minutes on the computer at one time (less with younger children).

#9. Planner

Tips for homeschool: Purchase a planner to help with organizing school subjects

We have brought back the good old-fashioned planner. For children who need organizational help (this is my 7th grader) it has been a life saver to keep everyone on task. I bought a simple $5 planner with both monthly and weekly pages. We write down weekly assignments on Monday mornings and fill in the monthly calendar with Zoom appointments, tests, and quizzes so he can keep track of assignments without getting overwhelmed.

* We also set up daily alarms with our friend “Alexa” so we don’t forget appointments. 

#10. Time Out

When you or your child gets overwhelmed, take a step back, and have a TIME OUT! We’ve had days when we stopped school work altogether and just took a few mental health hours. It’s more important as a mom to connect emotionally and build relationships than it is to turn in the assignment in at 3pm sharp! 

  • Be direct with your children’s teacher(s). When your child struggles with an assignment or project, let them know. I have never had a teacher say “Tough luck, figure it out”. Teachers want the best for our children as we do, we are all working towards the same goal. Just talk to them!

Well there you have it… I hope you have a new idea or two that might make your school day run smoother. Please share any tips you have learned through this unique time. Us moms now teachers have to stick together!

Written by: Kandis Froebe

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