You may have found yourself thrown into home schooling your child or children. If so, it’s a big change. But you’re not alone. Before the crisis, more than two million kids are home schooled each year in the United States.  

So help is out there. And there may actually be some advantages. Below are some tips on how to make the most of it for your family.

Create a Structure

If this came as a surprise to you, think about how it’s been for your kids. So you need to do what you can to support them. One of the best ways is to provide a strong structure. If you’re now working from home, this can be a challenge. But you can make it work.

These tried and true strategies, used by home schooling parents for years, can help you keep your household running smoothly.

  • Set a time that instruction begins each day. Here you can be a little flexible. If your child isn’t an early riser and is usually up at 8:00 am, start the school day at 9:00 am.
  • Encourage your child to shower and change as they would for school. This will help develop routine and teach them that it is time to focus on learning.
  • Schedule meal breaks at consistent times.
  • Encourage your kids to work together. Working with classmates or friends through video calls where they can work on a group project and discuss ideas can help them feel supported and break up the day.
  • Schedule time for Q&A. Your child may need help with some of the work beyond what is provided to them. This may be a challenge if the teacher(s) are not available at all times.

Find the Right Balance

These are stressful times as many parents are facing health and financial concerns. If you’re new adjusting to working from home with the entire family, here are a few tips that may help:

  • Try to spend a few moments of quality time with your child before the day begins, during breaks, and at the end of the day. Hold brief focused check-ins with your child as these can help prevent attention-seeking behaviors as the day progresses.
  • When possible, be present as your child is scheduled for online learning groups or distance learning classes. This way you can help them get set up and make sure they’re using their device for their work and not for play.
  • Use your breaks to recharge the entire family. Check in with your child, provide a healthy snack, and answer any questions they may have.
  • Remember that you are not alone. Most parents are now in the position of juggling home schooling while working from home. If you have a meeting and think you may be called away or have kids making noise in the background, be up front with your colleagues.

Find Fun Learning Resources

In addition to making sure that your child is doing their schoolwork, try to take their personal interests into account. Many public libraries and museums have made their materials and exhibits available online and may even provide virtual tours.

This might include:

  • Public television educational programming
  • Free audiobooks through public libraries
  • Virtual tours facilitated by museums or art galleries, such as the Monterey Bay Aquarium live animal cameras, Yellowstone National park tours, and the San Diego Zoo online
  • Online educational games (be careful of the source and ensure they are actually educational and interactive)
  • Building or creating at home (even cooking can be turned into an educational activity depending on age or grade level)
  • Plant seeds or otherwise grow or nurture a garden (there are several plants that can be grown indoors if you do not have access to an outdoor area)
  • Encourage reading! In addition to books, you can foster more reading with anything from recipes to reading information on museum exhibits, or playing educational games online that focus on reading
Finally, don’t put pressure on yourself or your kids. You’re in this together. Try to enjoy the time together and stay positive.

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