So the schools are closed, the kids are home, and you are suddenly their educator — even though you might be working from home, or unable to work, and thinking about how to make it all come together without losing your mind.
First of all — deep breath — you can handle this. I promise. I know because I’ve been working from home while my kids do school online — at home — for years.
I’m not saying it’s easy, because it’s a lot to take on. But there are some great resources out there to make sure your children’s time at home is beneficial to them and you. There are also a few ways to balance home learning and your work that I have found through trial and error.
Rule #1 – Go Easy on Yourself
Now is definitely not the time to try and be Superwoman. Absolutely cut yourself some slack and remember you’re doing the best you can under the circumstances (because of course you are.) You’ve probably spent hours scrambling to coordinate child care, or shift your work to remote if that’s even an option for you. It’s a lot. You’re doing great just making it to bedtime each night.
Rule #2 – The Internet is Your Friend
You know how you’re always being told that screen time is awful and you shouldn’t use it to keep your kids busy? Not the same if they’re learning. And I’ve got a list below that you can use to find TONS of great online (and free) resources to keep the kids learning in a way that’s fun. Also, if you’re working from home, learning time for kids can be very productive work time for you.
Rule #3 – School at Home Doesn’t Have to Be Like Traditional School
Now is the time to adapt your day to your child’s best times of day. Is your kid not a morning person? Learn in the afternoon. Let them learn outside, in their rooms, wherever they’re most excited about learning. Because to them, just doing something different can seem exciting. I’ve also found that lots of short breaks are incredibly helpful in keeping learning time productive.
Rule #4 – Make Learning Part of the Day-to-Day
I think the thing most homeschool parents learn first is that there isn’t a set time for learning. It can happen any time with any activity. Cooking dinner at home? That’s a lesson on fractions. Taking a nature walk is science. Anything movement and exercise is P.E. Reading time is a must and a great way to also tackle some of the other things you need to juggle yourself.
Rule #5 – Use the Resources Available to You
My children attend an online school, so I have had the good fortune of learning quite a bit about how awesome the internet can be for parents that are playing a role in their child’s education. There are some really incredible and 100% free online resources (See Rule #2 above) to help you encourage learning for your kids while they’re at home. Here are a few of my favorites!
Check Out These Resources to Help Your Children at Home
- Scholastic Learn at Home – Find amazing articles for students of all ages
- Brain POP – Sign up for a free 30 day trial and get access to tons of great educational videos for elementary and middle school students.
- Brain POP Jr. – Right now they are offering free access if your child’s school has been closed, with material designed for students in Kindergarten through third grade.
- Khan Academy – Always free and an amazing learning resource for kids and adults on a wide range of topics. Khan Academy has even put together a great guide to curriculum and at-home learning to support parents during school closures.
- ABC Mouse – If you haven’t already, download the app for a free 30 day trial. It’s a blast for kids ages 2 – 8.
- Adventure Academy – This is from the creators of ABC Mouse, but designed for children ages 8 – 13.
- Teachers Pay Teachers – This is a great resource with material shared by teachers and available for you to download and use at home. Just make sure you filter your search by grade level, and choose from the free options.
- PBS Kids – Make sure to sign up for their newsletter and receive activities and ideas to guide you through educating at home.
- Starfall – Visit the website or download the app to access free learning material for kids up to third grade.
Virtual Field Trips
Some of our favorite at-home school experiences come from virtual field trips. Check out these below!
- The San Diego Zoo
- Explore Mars
- Yellowstone National Park
- The Georgia Aquarium Animal Cameras
- Virtual Farm Tours
- The U.S. Space and Rocket Museum
- The Louvre
- The Great Wall of China
- Boston Children’s Museum