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Tips for Parents Who Are Suddenly Homeschooling

Tips for Parents Who Are Suddenly Homeschooling

I saw a great meme last week that said, “And just like that, we were all homeschoolers.” I laughed, but it didn’t even occur to me that it would apply to our family before the week was out. We are in unprecedented times for sure. For parents who are suddenly homeschooling, I sought the advice of some of my favorite moms who have been doing this homeschool thing for awhile now, several of whom are also working moms.

Everyone’s situation will be different, but hopefully this advice will help you in these crazy days where you are suddenly homeschooling.

  • Pray together. Invite Jesus in to your home and your day.
  • Decide if you’re a pajamas homeschool mom. Some moms feel that everyone is much more productive if they get up and get dressed to start their day. Some families may feel differently. Figure out what works for your people.
  • Create a schedule. Find a schedule that works for your family and stick with it. How you start the day can set the tone for the day. Consider starting with some Bible time together.
  • Allow the kids breaks. Five to ten minutes between every subject for two goes a long way for you both. Don’t let them on electronics during this time! Make them be active. Run, climb a tree etc. Set a timer to make sure the break doesn’t go too long. That break is great to keep them from not getting fatigued,  but also a good chance to sneak in a returned phone call or email. Again, the timer keeps you both on task.
  • Have a system for knowing what needs to be done. One mom says, “I keep all three sets of lesson plans out on my counter and cross off each one as they’re done. Some kids are self sufficient and I allow them to work on their own. Others are not and I have to work side by side. We have a place on the counter they put their completed assignments that need grading if I’m not working with them.”
  • Allow the kids breaks. Five to ten minutes between every subject or two goes a long way for you both. Don’t let them on electronics during this time! Make them be active. Run, climb a tree etc. Set a timer to make sure the break doesn’t go too long. That break is great to keep them from not getting fatigued, but also a good chance to sneak in a returned phone call or email. Again, the timer keeps you both on task.
  • Have a plan for electronics. This issue may be your biggest battle if you don’t have firm guidelines. You may choose to have no electronics during the school day, just like they are not allowed at school. You may choose to allow them during set breaks. Your call, but my suggestion would be to limit them as much as possible.
  • Keep chocolate on hand. Sometimes a Hersey’s Kiss does wonders when are patience is running thin. (I suppose for both kid and grown up)
  • Set aside an hour for quiet time in the afternoon. Make this a purposeful break from each other. Everyone goes to their own space. Encourage an hour of reading or other quiet activity. It’s their down time and can be your work time.
  • Brainstorm family projects that focus outward. Look for opportunities to serve neighbors, extended family, nursing home residents as quarantines and social distancing allow. Be creative.
  • The crockpot is your friend. 
  • You have to be flexible. If you start to “lose” your child or become frustrated with each other take a break, double up on a different subject and work on that one later.
  • Encourage Romans 12:10. “Take delight in honoring each other’. Out-give one another. Show grace, give extra chances, share the last cookie, etc…

For parents who are trying to work at the same time as homeschooling:

  • Recognize can’t do both at the exact same time and do both well. Set aside work time vs school time. Get up early or stay up late. Do as much as possible so you have a good start on answering emails, sending out necessary reports, etc… so you can focus on the kids and school once they’re up. 
  • Try to limit phone calls during school. The distraction gets kids off task and it’s so much harder to get them back at it.
  • Work on schoolwork in sections. Start with what they can do independently so you can set up, make calls, and try to plan your work day accordingly.
  • Don’t take your frustrations out on your kids. Often bad attitudes from them are a manifestation of your frustrations.

Finally, for everyone who is homeschooling…

  • Make this an adventure. This season may last longer than we anticipate, but it won’t last forever. Choose joy over stress. Look for the good in the unanticipated time together. Relax. Do fun things. Laugh.

Big thank you to Jenny Daugherty, Stephanie King, and Elizabeth Heisey for your insight!

This article about suddenly homeschooling originally appeared here.

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Jenny Funderburke is a blessed children's minister in Brandenton, FL who is loving life trying to do what God wants her to do with all of the families at West Bradenton Baptist Church.