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With the growing pandemic, are you suddenly thrust into the world of homeschooling while working from home?
It can definitely be a challenge to get everything done. But, the good news is that it is possible!
As a freelancing and homeschooling mom of nine, I’ve had some time to figure this homeschooling while growing a business thing out. And now I want to help you through this tough transition period. Because you can do this.
These tips will help you embrace this time you get with your children. And they’ll help you keep your productivity up so you don’t feel so far behind when it comes to your work.
Ready to find better balance when it comes to homeschooling and working from home? Let’s get started!
1. Embrace the Positive
Right now, we’re in the middle of a crisis. You may not have chosen to homeschool, but now schools are closed across the country and you find yourself in a unique situation.
It would be easy to complain about it. And whine. You may even want to go full out temper tantrum, just trying to deal with all the feelings you’re suddenly feeling.
My tip? Remember that your kids are watching. They are scared right now. And they don’t know what to make of these changes.
Help them make this transition by focusing on the positive. Counting your blessings can really help calm the nerves.
Here are a few to help you get started:
- You have flexibility in your schedule like never before! Your kids don’t have to go to school from 8-3 Monday through Friday. Feel free to change things up and find a flexible routine that works for your family.
- You and your kids are safe. There’s a nasty bug going around out there. Your kids are home with you, and you don’t have to worry about them getting exposed at school. In fact, they’re going to get exposed to a whole lot less of lots of things – not just a virus.
- You get to try your hand at this homeschooling thing. It is absolutely not the best scenario in which to try, but that’s okay! You can make the best of it, and who knows…you may even decide to keep homeschooling once this is behind us.
- You get to spend time with your kids. For me, this is the best part about homeschooling. I get to be there for my kids. The years go by so quickly, and I’m so thankful to spend them together. Take time now to embrace these weeks.
- You get to learn more about what your child is learning in school. When you’re tired from working all day and your child is tired from school and after school activities, it’s really hard to connect in a meaningful way and chat about what is actually being taught at school. You might be surprised at what is covered and what is not. The curriculum has certainly changed since you and I were in school…
- Your kids can see you work. Your business is so good for them!
- \You have a business (or work) that you can do. In this time when many people are going without a paycheck, that is a definite blessing!
Take a moment and jot down your own list. What are the blessings of this situation, even though it is a hard one? Encourage your kids to write down some blessings as well.
2. Don’t Replicate School at Home
You are not a school. Your living room is not a school classroom.
School at home is certainly not the same as homeschooling. And if you try to recreate it, you may just make yourself and all your kids miserable.
Let them sit on the couch to do math. Or lean against the dog while reading.
Integrate board games and educational videos. Have fun while you learn.
You don’t need textbooks, perfectly lined up desks and chairs, and colorful bulletin boards to teach. Whatever you have is enough. With a little creativity, you can make it work and your child can thrive.
Oh…and school shouldn’t be taking 6 hours a day.
That is way too much at home. You’re in a different environment and can better meet your child’s needs quickly since you aren’t dealing with a classroom full of kids at once.
If you try to drag school out longer than necessary, you’re likely going to increase stress and cause potential fights. The kids will soon realize that it doesn’t take nearly as long at home.
Most of my kids are done in an hour. My older ones take two or three depending on the day. But that’s it for formal learning.
But don’t worry, they are actually learning all day long. Even if you aren’t overseeing them directly.
3. Teach Your Child How to Learn
The single most important thing (school wise) that you can teach your children is how to learn.
If they know that, they can learn anything they need to.
Use this time to spark their interest in learning. Let them dive deep into favorite topics. Practice reading, so they can read the books they need to learn the things.
And then stand back and let them try. Kids cannot learn if we’re constantly micromanaging everything. Let them take reasonable risks and try new things.
Cooking. Building. Coding. Creating.
There are so many things your child can do that are full of learning opportunities.
And…if your kids want to work on those things, they will be learning even more since it won’t be forced. They will feel empowered to get to study what they want. It might be the thing your child needs to truly take their spot in the driver’s seat in their educational journey.
Even better? They can learn these things without you standing over their shoulder. Their independent exploration can be done nearby, where you can help if necessary, but it will allow you time to get some work done.
4. Set Clear Expectations
Your kids need to know what the game plan is for each day. Take time every morning to bring them up to speed. As you talk through the day, talk about:
- What you’re eating for each meal
- What work you need to get done
- Which assignments need completed
- If there are any essential outings (like to the dr. or store) in your day
- What needs to be done before free time
- How much (and what kind) of screen time is allowed
Not every day will be the same. That’s why you need a flexible schedule as a homeschooling mom. But, your kids thrive on routines and knowing what to expect.
Just keep them in the loop. As you talk about your day, you can set the expectations in a clear, non-threatening way. If something comes up and you have to pivot, call another family meeting and talk about it.
Treat your kids as adults in training, and expect them to behave and contribute to the family. The vast majority of kids will rise and fall to meet your expectations.
Note: As you set your expectations, make sure they are realistic. You are not going to go shut yourself in an office somewhere for three hours while your five year old has free time. But, there’s no reason why you can’t build up to a 90 minute quiet time after you’ve established the routine.
For more tips on planning your day, read this post.
5. Use Technology to Help
We live in an age where technology abounds. Use it wisely in your homeschool.
You can integrate technology in many ways, but here are a few of my kids’ favorites:
- Building a model of a historical monument in Minecraft
- Creating a simple computer game to go along with a lesson in Scratch
- Watching a YouTube video of a science experiment
- Playing an educational app on the iPad
- Listening to an audio book
- Learning a new skill with an online course
- Doing a How to Draw type video
What does your child like to do on technology? Can you find a way to make that a part of their lessons? Don’t be afraid to think outside of the box.
Learning comes in more than one form, so let your child embrace their natural talents and abilities and interests as they learn. They’ll be less likely to complain about school if they enjoy it…
6. Focus on Independent Learning
You do not have to lecture all day long to accomplish school. You can’t begin to try to be actively engaged in the learning process all the time if you’re trying to grow your business. There won’t be time and you will burn out.
So let your kids learn independently.
Now, this doesn’t mean leaving them on their own. There will be subjects and times when your child needs more of your attention.
But, they don’t for all of them. Let them practice on their own. Be a facilitator for their learning, not the dictator.
If your child doesn’t yet want to play or learn independently, start now to teach this important skill. You need your kids to be independent.
Start off small. Give them tasks you know they can succeed at. Let them have fun. Then have them report back to you and share how it went.
Keep doing this, slowly guiding them through the transition.
Here are some fun learning activities many kids can do on their own once they are expected to and shown how:
- Writing the alphabet (let them time themselves!)
- Doing practice math problems after the lesson
- Playing a solo board game to reinforce learning
- Practicing an instrument (or another skill)
- Doing a creativity building activity
- Responding to creative writing prompts
- Free play (never underestimate the power of play to help your kids learn!)
By alternating independent activities and together activities, you’ll be gaining time to work on your business and connecting with your child.
7. Don’t Waste Those Small Chunks of Time
Five minutes here and five minutes there may not feel like a lot. But, I promise that if you use those moments effectively, you will greatly increase your productivity.
This works for you and your kids.
My younger learners especially benefit from small, more frequent bits of school. This works well with their shorter attention span.
For instance, instead of sitting down for an hour to do school with my littles, it more often looks like this:
- Practice spelling words orally while making breakfast
- Challenge to write the alphabet correctly before I get done sweeping
- Write their name in shaving cream at the table and then have free drawing time in it
- Practice counting while getting snack
- Sort to unload the silverware
- Watch a historical cartoon (we really like Liberty Kids)
- Spread out the foam letters and make an ABC trail, then jump from letter to letter
These can be done throughout the day, in small pockets of time.
You can also do great things in small chunks for your business. Here are a few ideas:
- Respond to an email
- Delete all the email you don’t have to deal with personally
- Scan a job board for a new freelance writing gig
- Outline a blog post
- Post on social media
- Connect to influencers on social media
- Update your paperwork
- Read a chapter of a business oriented book
- Brainstorm blog post ideas
If you were to do a few of these every day, can you see how the progress would add up? Especially if you also combine these small chunks of time with your focused work times.
For more tips on growing a business in small chunks, read this post:
Even More Tips for Homeschooling While Working at Home
The seven tips above will definitely help you get started! Here are a five more quick ones:
- Make quiet time non-negotiable (you might be getting on each other’s nerves being around each other all day, so the break is good for you all!)
- Spend time each morning purposefully filling your kids’ emotional love banks. Then they’ll be more willing to play independently later.
- Let your kids help you with your business. Teach them how to help, and then let them. You’ll be giving them a great head start in the business world!
- Make time for fun. You have your kids home right now – take time to enjoy life with them.
- Be proactive each night
Believe in Yourself
You are your child’s first teacher. You always have been. Believe that you are capable of doing this.
You’ve got it!
And if you’re looking for a little extra help on setting up your systems and routines, check out my course Balancing Diapers and Deadlines.
Lisa Tanner is a former teacher turned homeschooling mom with 11 kids. She's also a successful freelance writer. Lisa enjoys helping other busy moms find time to start and grow a side hustle of their own.