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How to Create the Ideal Homeschool Environment

two children doing writing during homeschool

As schools across the U.S. close their doors to slow the coronavirus outbreak, parents are now, with little warning, scrambling to figure out how to homeschool their children. So, what do you do if you’re a parent now in charge of continuing your child’s education, in many cases while you’re also working from home? Without knowing how long these school closures may last, it can feel hard to prepare or even know where to begin. 

Every family will have to find a solution that works best for them, but to help you get started, we sought advice from homeschooling professionals and experts. Here are some of their best tips for creating the ideal homeschool environment. 

two children doing writing during homeschool

Take a deep breath

First things first, stay calm and remember that everyone is in this together – from those in living in Florida to those living in Washington (and everyone in between). So while yes, this is daunting and unfamiliar, it is also temporary and no one expects you to do it perfectly. 

Try this:
Relax and take a deep breath. In these trying times, we’re all anxious, but it’s important to stay calm for our children’s sake. – Hillcrest Academy ​Free School

Use everything as a teachable moment

You can turn just about anything into a learning opportunity. Plus, being at home with your kids gives you the chance to think outside-the-box and find new ways of taking in information.

Try this:
Have your kids help with dinner and teach them math while using recipes such as – the recipe calls for 1/2 cup for 2 servings, what is needed for 6 servings? – Homeschool Central

girl reading Dr. Seuss book while homeschooling

Have a routine, but be flexible 

One of the great things about homeschooling is the flexibility. Start with a plan, but be open to the twist and turns your day could take and the unique ways in which your own child learns.

Try this:
If possible follow a similar routine that your family was already on but also try to make it fun. Doing school on the couch or together in the kitchen is a great way to bond as a family. – Confessions of a Homeschooler

Resist the urge to schedule the whole day. Settle into a new norm with more unstructured free time. – The SC Homeschooling Connect

Find consistent 2-4 hour segments to complete the “must-do” subjects like math, language arts, and reading, and then plan the “want to do” stuff for happily investing in the rest of the day. – HSLDA

Education at home is all about freedom: freedom to learn unhindered; freedom to try anything and everything in comfort and peace. Create a flexible schedule and choose the basics, then let the student’s interests direct the rest of the day—you will not only give them an education, you will give them a life. – The Old Schoolhouse

If you have multiple children at home, make sure to spend one-on-one time with each child. It also helps cut down on sibling squabbles when each child knows they’ll have time that’s just about them. – Modern Parents Messy Kids

how to homeschool

Give your child a say in the learning process

Depending on their age, consider letting your teen create their own schedule and structure. It’s ok if you need to step in but if you give them the option first you may be pleasantly surprised.

Try this:
Try to focus their studies around topics they are interested in; and be flexible, letting your child experiment with the environment, time, and type of curriculum, to find out how they work best. – Annie and Everything

Do a unit study

You can cover learning in multiple major subjects by linking them together under one topic that interests your child. 

Try this: 
Study the Civil War and incorporate history, science, writing, reading, spelling, memorization, art, music, etc. – Catholic Homeschooling Resources

Or maybe your child is interested in trains. You can find resources online that will provide train-themed math sheets or books related to trains. You can use toys at home to recreate a train station and then talk about all of the inner workings of the station. This type of learning excites them and will keep them engaged and asking questions. – How To Homeschool

child playing with play-doh

Make it fun

Learning doesn’t always have to take the form of worksheets and quizzes. Instead, mix things up! This is the perfect time to find the fun in learning. 

Try this:
Whether learning how to cook, how to dissect a worm, or how to write a screenplay, take advantage of fun online courses that fire up your student’s heart and mind. – HomeschoolConnections.com

Incorporate hands-on activities. Not only do they make learning at home more interesting, kids learn more when they are engaged and motivated.All About Learning Press

Play word games, act out historical dramas, ‘tour’ online museums, or watch documentaries. These are all enjoyable (as well as educational) ways to pass the time together. – Home School Digest

two boys playing outside during homeschool

Get physical and make the most of outdoor space

Your kids would typically have a dedicated recess or outdoor time each school day. So it’s important to continue this at home and incorporate opportunities into the daily schedule for them to move around and stay active. 

Try this:
Take the classroom outside. Online recreational activities that take the kids (and the parents) outside the home are great opportunities for learning. Our local park system offers scavenger hunts that can be used in any park or backyard. The Nature Conservancy also has a fun and educational nature scavenger hunt. – Oakland County Moms

Take breaks for movement. Movement breaks (both indoors or outdoors) can support attention, regulation, and focus. – Emerge Pediatric Therapy

Resources to consider

Be sure to reach out to your local school district and determine what homeschooling resources are available to you. Additionally, there are endless free online resources and homeschool curriculums you can take advantage of. Here are a few suggestions for students of all ages and learning styles – 

Homeschool Math: a comprehensive math resource site for homeschooling parents and teachers that includes free educational resources including math worksheets, lesson plans, online math games lists, ebooks, a curriculum guide, reviews, and more. 

EngageNY: rigorous and engaging K-12 curriculum aligned with the Common Core Standards that families can access and use online for free. The math curriculum modules are complete and require no textbook. – Michigan Association for Gifted Children 

Independence Kit: this is a great way to challenge K-8th grade students to do something on their own, which will keep them learning on their own. Parents can use it to make this a time their kids blossom into even more resourceful, resilient young people. – Let Grow

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