Navigating at-home learning (or a mix of home and school) yet again during a time of uncertainty can make us all feel pretty lost! So, we reached out to some awesome homeschool parents who have been through this before. Although “homeschooling” and “schooling at home” are quite different, we think they’ve got some words of wisdom to share. Here are their top 9 tips for parents schooling at home!
1. Create a routine. Create a regular schedule, wake up at the same time every day, and communicate a set plan with the family so everyone’s on the same page. And be sure to break up that routine with walks, playing games, working in the yard, or whatever else your family enjoys doing together! Here’s what one homeschool parent had to say about their family routine:
Having a daily list and weekly list was extremely helpful. We would talk about what was going on the next day the night before to help everyone be ready for the schedule and have good expectations. So if there was a lesson or doctor appointment everyone knew and was prepared to be in the car ready to go at a certain time.
2. Practice time blocking. Along the same lines of creating a set routine for your family, block out specific amounts of time to spend on certain activities. If your school already has a very structured schedule for how long each class will last, then you may not need to worry about this. But if you’re figuring out how to practice a hybrid style of schooling, or your school has left the schedule a bit more open, be intentional about blocking out times for each subject, for lunch, for relaxation time, etc.
3. Be intentional about relationships outside the home. One thing our parents had to say was the importance of relationships outside of the family. Be sure to encourage your teen to spend time with their friends (whether in-person or over FaceTime/Zoom). And in the spirit of a stressful new school year, you might even host study nights with fun snacks! Be flexible when it comes to friend time for your kids, they need support and connection more than ever.
4. Be patient and loving. Do you love your kids? Of course! But do they sometimes drive you crazy? Oh yes (we’ve all been there many, many times). Give yourself and your kid grace during this time of transition. It’s new for everyone, and it’s definitely not easy. Let patience and love overflow in a time of sheer chaos. Here’s what one parent had to say on the challenge of patience:
Biggest challenge was being patient with the learning process. It was also easy to be a perfectionist and demand too much. I needed to relax more and enjoy the journey.
5. Try to limit screentime. If your school offers alternative forms of learning from home (i.e. physical copies of books, workbooks, homework printouts) try to use those as much as possible. Or if your school is holding 100% Zoom classes for the entire school day and you don’t have alternative means of learning, find ways to limit screentime in the evening. Have family game nights, read books together, play basketball in the driveway, play neighborhood tag—anything that doesn’t involve a screen!
6. Give your kid space for individuality. Let your kids have some time to just be themselves! Give each person in your family personal time to use as they wish (even if it’s only 15 minutes). Do things together as a family, yes, but also offer your teen time to relax and simply be.
7. Make distinct zones for work and play. If you’ve been working from home during the pandemic, you’ve probably gotten used to working and relaxing in the same spaces day after day. If possible, encourage your kid to find a space they’re comfortable working in, and use that same area each day — and then other areas for play. This can help to break up the day and at least feel like they can “leave” school at the end of the day and enter into their normal home atmosphere. One parent suggested this:
Have dedicated space for work for each child. Whether that’s the kitchen table, deskspace in an office, space in their bedroom, or working at the kitchen bar.
8. Get connected with other parents. One thing we learned from homeschool parents is the importance of community and support. We’re all in this together this year, so reach out to other parents who you know are also adjusting to this new way of schooling and check-in on each other. Schedule regular calls, coffee meetings, Facebook support groups—anything that connects you with other parents going through this too. Learn from one another, support one another, and lift each other up as you all learn how to deal with this new way of life.
9. Be involved. This is a new way of life for you and your kid, and now is an important time to check-in regularly. Make sure they’re doing well mentally, spiritually, and physically. Ensure that they’re spending sufficient time on schoolwork and not letting the day get away without completing important tasks. One homeschool parent put it this way:
Be involved. Not from the “helicopter parent” perspective, but in checking in to see that they are staying attentive to homework and due dates.
If you feel like this school year is just bonkers crazy, you’re not alone. Stay strong! This won’t be forever, and our kids will make it through this strange new school year. Remember that life changes fast, but our God is constant through it all. Bring your fears to God’s throne. He’s got this.