An emergency has brought your children home from school and now you're homeschooling.
You weren’t expecting it, and you certainly haven’t had time to plan for it. Now what do you do?
You probably have lots of questions swirling in your head. You probably feel a little (or a lot!) overwhelmed and probably a bit worried.
- How is this all going to work?
- How do you keep them from falling behind in school?
- How do you keep them busy all day long without using screens as a babysitter?
- How do you get them to sit and listen and do their school work?
- How do you make this a good experience and not something you’re dreading by the third day?
- And what about if you still have to work from home … how will you make THAT work??
Well, never fear!
I’m going to walk you through a few basic steps to help you homeschool your children during this emergency.
If you set up just a few things well, this can be a time that you and your children look back on with fondness. You’ll create unique and exciting memories that will bring you closer together.
And remember … you’ve got this!
1. Prepare Your Mindset
You're doing something you've never done before. It's normal to feel overwhelmed and possibly scared.
Take time to breathe and get settled. If you spend a day or two "not doing school," you kids will be okay. They won't fall behind.
As you're getting settled, remember that your kids are taking their cues from you. If you're scared, they'll be scared. If you're calm, they'll be calm. As much as possible, help them feel safe and excited about this change of pace by working to feel that way yourself.
2. Decide on a Destination
Just like you wouldn't go on a vacation without knowing where you're headed, getting clear on what your vision is for this new part of your life helps you make sure you're going where you want to go.
Even though you weren't PLANNING on this trip, you can still make sure it's a short trip that ends up in a great place.
So take a few minutes and think about what you really want to accomplish during this unique time with your kids. Yes, sure you want them to continue to work on academics, but do you also want to create special memories or try a project that you normally don't have time for?
When you're schooling your kids at home, you have much more time and freedom than you are used to. Feel free to take full advantage!
Want 6 specific questions to help you determine your homeschool destination?
3. Plan Your Day
Once you know the big picture of what you're trying to accomplish during this time, it's time to think about what the day is going to look like.
Consider questions like:
- When do we want to get up in the morning?
- When will we do chores?
- Do we want to try and get all our schooling done at once or do we want to spread it out throughout the day?
- What kind of activities do we want to do besides traditional school work?
- How much screen time do we want to have? (Here's how to know if you are giving too much screen time.)
- How will you get non-school or work-related time in?
Once you've thought through these questions, build a simple schedule that you can use.
Keep in mind that no schedule is perfect and often homeschool moms adjust in the moment or on a day-by-day basis. But having a plan will help you know what you're trying to do throughout the day when you get up in the morning.
Want sample homeschooling schedules and scheduling tips?
4. Create a Content Plan
Once you have a basic schedule plan in place, it's time to think about the kind of content you want to cover.
You probably have assignments from your public school that need to be done. Consider which ones need to be done daily and which can be taken care of on a weekly basis.
Usually actual school work can be done in a few hours, which leaves LOTS of time to fill for the rest of the day.
How are you going to help your kids fill those hours ... especially if you can't go out and about?
Educational activities and projects are a great way to fill the void. Reading books together as a family. Passion projects that your kids don't normally have time for. Even just letting them be "bored" can be beneficial.
While it's important to monitor what your kids are doing, don't feel like you have to have every moment planned out. Not only will things change -- leaving your plans in the dust. But spur of the moment creativity often takes hold when kids don't have every minute of their day structured.
5. Talk to Your Kids
Whether you're just starting to school at home OR you've been doing it for a bit, it's still a good idea to involve your kids in your plan.
With all of your planning and preparation, it can be easy to start assuming that your kids know what you expect and what you're hoping to have happen each day.
But often, our kids have very different expectations. And when those expectations clash can often be disastrous.
If you take the time to sit down and discuss your expectations (and their's!), you can help the entire homeschooling experience go much more smoothly.
Want help knowing what homeschooling expectations to discuss with your kids?
You've laid the groundwork. Now it's time to start! A few pointers to keep in mind during your first few days (and possibly weeks!)
- Your relationship is the MOST important thing you can focus on. It will be easy to start worrying about school work or how messy your house is getting. Or getting frustrated when your kids start to squabble. No matter what happens, your relationship with your kids is more important. So stay calm and be kind.
- Every day will be different. You're working with small human beings who wake up different every day. Some days they will be grumpy. Some days they will be super creative. And some days they will be snuggly. Embrace the difference.
- They are still learning even if it doesn't look like it. Learning takes many forms ... and in homeschooling, it often doesn't look like school work. It looks like climbing trees, building forts, reading in a big chair, or making tracks for cars out of blocks.
- Keep the destination in mind. In moments when everything seems to be going off the rails, revisit your original goals. What is it you are REALLY trying to accomplish during this time together. Then step back, reset, and try again.
No matter how your journey with homeschooling ends -- whether it's a short few weeks or it ends up being a longer commitment -- this is a special, unique time for you to connect and bond with your kids.
Enjoy the time you have together. You're about to make memories that you will talk about for a lifetime.
Want to dive deeper in learning how to temporarily homeschool in an emergency?