The rapid spread of COVID-19 has closed many schools around the world, leaving thousands of parents in an awkward position. You may be scrambling to figure out how to educate your children from home, while also dealing with the stresses of a global pandemic. Perhaps you are also under quarantine or are practicing social distancing. Whether your time as a homeschooler is relatively short term – lasting only until schools open again – a permanent change, or anything in between, experienced homeschoolers can help! I think I can safely speak for all of us when I say we want to help. We, along with your child’s teachers, want your child to continue learning during this uncertain time.
But learning doesn’t have to look like public school. If you are trying to replicate public school at home, you are going to burn out. It’s exhausting and frustrating. If your school provided packets and online instruction, you likely feel pressured to get it all done. That’s normal and natural. However, please give yourself and your children grace through this transition. And it is a transition. A huge transition. Many homeschoolers call this transition time a detox. Everyone needs time and compassion to adjust, especially with the added stress our world is currently experiencing. Please don’t try to push your kids too hard while they – and you – are adjusting.
Try not to stress too much about schedules. That can lead to burn out as well. We’re more of a routine family than a schedule one. Many homeschoolers prefer a routine over a schedule. Be flexible! Your child may need more than the allotted time for their math, or maybe they need less. Instead of following an hourly chart, find a routine that works for your family. For instance, we don’t schedule out a set time frame for any of our subjects, but we mostly follow an order. Some days we do our group subjects first, some days we tackle the individual work first. The order of each is typically the same. Our group learning time starts with a hymn, a prayer, and scripture reading, followed by a poem and our current read aloud. Then we do that day’s group subject (M = science, T/Th = history, W = art, F = tech). Our individual leveled work starts with math, followed by handwriting and their language arts course books.
Many homeschoolers are feeling the stress of social distancing as well. Co-ops, community classes, public libraries, sports, activities – most of these are shut down for us, too. That aspect hasn’t affected my family as much as others, as we are a house of homebodies. We prefer a quieter lifestyle. Well, it’s not really quiet – I have 5 kids, after all! But it’s intentionally less busy, which for us means most of our time is spent in the comfort of our own home or playing in our backyard. However, I know that is not the case for a lot of other homeschooling families.
One of the most beautiful things about homeschooling is the flexibility. I encourage you to take this time to take a step back and focus on family relationships. Bond with your kids. Learn new skills and grow together. Read, read, read, and read some more. This is a great time to work on life skills like cooking, cleaning, and money management. Giving my kids daily chores is necessary for our home to function properly. Focus on the things that matter most to your family, such as faith, character, or service.
Disclaimer: I did not make any of the graphics in this post, and I don’t know who did for some of them. Each graphic came across my Facebook feed, without all the original source information. If you recognize any of them, I’d love to give credit where credit is due!
I’ve been homeschooling for almost 5 years now. I love it, and it’s the best option for my family, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy. There are days that are really, really hard. Today was one of them. Please take comfort in knowing that experienced homeschoolers have rough days, too! You are not failing if you have a bad day. We all have them! And our kids have them, too. Be kind to yourself and to your kids when it’s hard. Escape to your chocolate stash if you have to for a minute. I do that frequently!
One of the great things about homeschooling in an online age is the vast number of resources out there. There are so many options! I’ve compiled a list of some of them, and in some cases, it’s a list of lists. This is by no means comprehensive of everything that is out there. But it’s a start.
- The Good and the Beautiful – this is my top pick for language arts, handwriting, history, and typing. We also enjoy their Creative Arts & Crafts Projects book. They also have science and math for lower grades. Language arts levels 1-5 and marine biology are available as free PDFs. Be sure to take the assessment with each child, as levels are advanced and do not correspond with public school grades. They also have a fantastic selection of high quality literature, which you can find under the library tab. They also have helpful blog posts and videos. Their curriculum is non-denominational Christian, but many secular or other religious families modify it to work for them. Prices are very reasonable.
- Math U See – this is my top pick for math. We’ve been using Math U See from the beginning of our homeschool journey and love it! The instructional videos explain math in ways that make sense. My kids love the blocks (they mostly play with them). You can do as many workbook pages in each lesson as you feel your child needs. It’s a bit pricey, but worth it. My daughter initially struggled with math when we pulled her out of public school. Now she excels at it.
- Easy Peasy Homeschool – this is an all-in-one Christian curriculum. I haven’t actually used it, but I’ve heard great things about it. 100% free.
- Kids Cook Real Food – online cooking lessons! I haven’t tried this one yet, but it’s on my list of things to try.
- Cathy Duffy Reviews – this is a fantastic resource for curriculum reviews. There are so many options out there!
- Kiwi Co (Tinker Crates, Kiwi Crates, etc) – lots of subscription options for various ages. Mostly STEM and art. I haven’t used them yet, but a lot of homeschoolers love them.
- Bitsbox – coding subscription kits. This is high on my list for next school year. I think my kids would love this, especially my older boys.
- Ivy Kids – this one looks so cute! Each kit comes with a book and relevant activities. This is high on my list for my upcoming kindergartner.
- Raddish Kids – cooking subscription. This is also high on my list of things to try.
- Home Science Lab – this is the only subscription we’ve actually tried so far. Each kit comes with 5-6 themed science activities. We’ve only done about 8 of the labs so far, but we’ve enjoyed them.
- List of education companies offering free subscriptions – how fantastic is this?! There are far more educational subscriptions out there. I’ve only listed the ones I’m either currently using, am most interested in trying, or a list someone else compiled of freebies.
Books and Story Time:
- Usborne Books – one of my favorites! They have a fantastic selection of non-fiction and reference books. They also have various learning tools. I highly recommend checking them out!
- Free Public Domain Books – who doesn’t love free books?!
- Audible – currently free audio books for kids!
- Author Story Time – children’s books read by their authors!
- Stories Read by Josh Gad – is your child obsessed with Frozen? They can listen to Olaf reading bedtime stories.
Worksheets and Printables:
- 1+1+1=1 – lots of fun educational printables and learning activities
- Mr. Printables – more fun learning printables
- Handwriting Worksheets – you can make your own custom handwriting worksheets here!
- Teachers Pay Teachers – lots and lots of educational materials here, in every subject and level. Some are free and some cost a few dollars.
- Great Schools – another resource for educational printables
Art, Activities, and Coloring Pages:
Virtual Field Trips:
Free Educational Resources:
- Homeschooling Community supporting Public School Community – a very helpful Facebook support group for homeschooling families and public school families
- Homeschool to Homeschool – videos and tips from an experienced homeschooler. She also has lists of her favorite educational products and curriculum. I took a Homeschooling 101 class from her at a convention when I started this journey and it was so helpful!
There are tons of regional, method based, and curriculum specific Facebook groups that can be helpful. Use the search bar to find groups that fit your needs. I’m a member of several that meet mine. I learn so much from my fellow homeschooling moms! They are a wealth of wisdom, support, and love. We are all on this journey together.
Games are another great learning tool. Board games, card games, logic games – there are so many to choose from! We love logic puzzle games from SmartGames and ThinkFun, which you can find on Amazon. We’ve found so many fantastic educational items on Amazon. I can put together another list of our favorites if anyone is interested. But that’s a list for another day.
Life is different right now, for all of us. Let’s band together (but at a safe distance!) as we face the tremulous challenges of our day. We can get through this, especially as we help each other. Try to find joy in the day-to-day, in having your children around you. Learn and love together. I need this reminder too on the hard days. Take a deep breath, eat some chocolate, and try to get a good night’s rest. I am not very good at that last one, but I’m trying to work on it.
You are the one who taught your child to walk. To talk. To use the bathroom. To sleep in their own bed. To share. To be kind. If you can do that, you can teach your child math, reading, and any other subject they need. As you can see, the resources out there are endless! You can do this! Yes, it’s hard, but you can do hard things. If you are religious, turn to the Lord. He will help you. He wants you and your children to thrive, even more than you do. Best of luck to each of you on this journey!