Our family has been homeschooling for 8 years (on purpose!) so I put together some info and resources to help out the families that are now navigating homeschooling and online learning.
1. It does not take all day to do your «lessons» – If your school is sending work home you will probably be surprised you can finish in just a few hours. A lot of the school day is spent in transition.
2. Breaks help kids work better. Depending on age, try everything from 15 minutes of work to 30 minutes break (elementary age) to 60 minutes of work to 15 minutes break (high school). Set a timer and give 10 and 5-minute warnings about transitions so it’s easier for everyone. If you know it will be too hard to pry your kids away from the computer/iPad/phone/TV make those off-limits till all work is done – they can still have tons of fun with LEGO bricks, pretend play, etc.
3. Help your kids get rid of extra energy instead of being stressed by it! Send them outside when possible to burn off steam. It’s safe to play in the yard or ride a bike or take a hike. On rainy days I used to tell my son «Run to your room and back and I’ll time you on my phone!» We’d keep going trying to «improve his time» until he was panting and ready to get back to work.
4. Kids need a ridiculous amount of snacks. Keep them fed and hydrated for maximum efficiency and minimum complaints.
5. Be patient with yourself and your kids during this time! It’s new for all of you. Stay positive and stop doing anything that creates unreasonable conflict. Put away lessons that are stressful. Your relationship with your child is not worth risking just to get schoolwork done. They will not fall behind. They will still graduate and get a job someday. Do your best to stay calm and remember, you need breaks, too!
6. Your house will not be at the level of tidiness you are used to, and that’s OK. Teach your kids to do laundry and dishes, how to prepare their own snacks, how to take care of the pets, etc. Talk about living in community and how it’s important for everyone to contribute. At our house, we jokingly call these things «life skills». I asked my 17-year old son to make a grocery run yesterday and he was said, «life skills!» Life skills are actually really important and can be a fun way to break up the day.
7. Adult partners/parents should discuss how responsibilities will be divided during this time, and discuss how you will remain patient and joyful with each other. In our house, since I’m a math teacher I do math education. My husband likes to cook, I do not, so he teaches about cooking. I take care of homeschooling mornings and early afternoons and work late afternoons and evenings. My husband cleans the kitchen and makes dinner when he gets home from his day job. When something needs to be done the person most capable or most available takes care of it, no matter who is «supposed» to do it.
8. Remember this time with your kids is a gift! Try to enjoy it. Snuggle up for read-alongs, watch educational YouTube videos while snacking on the sofa, go outside and investigate the bugs – these simple things are packed with learning and sweet times you and your children will always remember.
*** Online Resources ***
Reading Eggs – Subscription-based; 2-week trial; excellent for emerging readers and beyond; ages 2-13.
Mathseeds – Subscription-based; free trial; targeted to ages 3-9
ABC Mouse – Subscription-based; 30-day trial; all kinds of activities for ages 2-8
SciShow Kids – Jessi from Animal Wonders and her robot rat Squeaks answer your questions and explain fun, complex science concepts for young, curious minds. Great for preschool and early elementary.
Crash Course Kids – Elementary-aged science lessons on all topics, from the makers of Crash Course.
SciShow – Awesome for older elementary through adult. So many amazing topics have been covered. Check out their playlists, search for a topic, or just peruse the weirdness.
Crash Course – Mostly high-school level but we used them even in upper elementary and middle school. Almost everything you could want (except math).
Extra Credits – History topics not typically covered in history textbooks. Plus mythology, gaming, sci-fi, and politics. High quality, super engaging.
TED-Ed – (As in TED Talks.) These videos and lesson plans are geared to K-12 learners. So many amazing topics. You can search and sort by level and topic.
Khan Academy – Free tool includes videos, documents, and lessons. GREAT FOR MATH. You can go by grade or topic, K-12 and beyond.
Great Big Story – Micro-documentaries and films from around the globe. Very high-quality and engaging. Available on YouTube as well.
Field Trips! Some museums and parks are offering virtual tours.
Daily zoo videos from Cincinnati Zoo – Home Safari: Every weekday at 3pm the zoo highlights one of their amazing animals and includes an activity you can do from home.
Monterey Bay Aquarium – Live videos including the Sea Otter Cam 🦦
Lunch Doodles With Mo Willems – From the Kenndy Center. Willems is the author of one of our favorite books, «Don’t Let The Pigeon Drive The Bus!»
Josh Gad (Frozen’s Olaf!) reads bedtime stories
Outschool – Really engaging and low-cost online classes for ages 3-18 on just about everything
*** MATH RESOURCES ***
DENISE GASKINS’ LET’S PLAY MATH: The Game That Is Worth 1,000 Worksheets –
Denise has TONS of fun math activities on her blog, including this simple and fun card game. Kids get really excited about this!
LivingMath! – Julie has collected so many books that make math fun – many you can find through the library system. Some may be available electronically through Libby so you don’t have to check out the books.
Math Is Fun! – Great explanations for most K-12 topics, includes examples and colorful diagrams.
PurpleMath – They’ve added lots of advertisements but this is great content from pre-algebra through advanced algebra/Algebra 2. Stick to the stuff with the purple banners – blue banners are ads.
Khan Academy – All math topics from pre-K to AP Calc, AP Stats, and beyond.
Paul’s Online Calculus Notes – great for AP Calc AB and BC. Review of Algebra 2 and Pre-calc as well. Notes/instruction, examples, practice problems, and «cheat sheets» of all the formulas you need to know.
Numberphile – University professors, mostly from the UK, talk about really cool math stuff in a way high schoolers and even middle schoolers can understand.
Flexagons – Super fun topics for all ages. Vi Hart’s Hexaflexagon Series videos here (be sure to read the descriptions for more great links).
Tesselations – This site seems to date to the days of AngelFire, but the content is superb and worth a look. Lots of hands-on activities.
20 Math Card Games – From Math Geek Mama
Homeschooling When You Have To – Facebook support and resources group for those new to «homeschooling» due to the COVID-19 crisis.
Homeschool Helpers – Facebook support group created by veteran homeschoolers with tons of great resources.
Gameschooling from My Little Poppies – Lists of educational games to play as you learn.
Homeschool Gameschool – Make learning a fun family affair!