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(Image: Gretchen Bossio / Seattle Refined)

0 to Homeschool, Real Quick

In an unprecedented announcement last week, all Washington schools have closed for the time being. That means waves of parents and kids have gone from zero to homeschool, real quick.

With barely any notice, homeschooling became a new reality.

It’s a new, somewhat frightening, somewhat exciting world. And, since it wasn’t planned, it can be quite overwhelming for parents and kids alike. No one had time to think it through or prepare. It was just, boom, “hello homeschool!”

Here’s the thing though, it’s going to be ok. I know because I’ve been nervous about homeschooling before too. But, now I proudly claim the title of homeschool mom and have for the last four years.

As you launch into the unknown, keep these few things in mind:

Believe that you can homeschool

Accept that you didn’t choose to homeschool. It’s totally ok to have mixed feelings about this transition. But, like so many parenting obstacles, you absolutely have the capability to meet your children’s needs. Especially in a short term situation. Speak life into your role of teacher. Believe that you can do this!

Start with a family meeting

Introduce your new role as teacher parent. Ask for grace and flexibility. Get their feedback. Explain that things will progress day by day, week by week.

Invite your kids into the planning

At the start of each homeschool year I ask my kids what they want to learn. It’s important to me that they’re excited about learning and by being part of the planning, they take more ownership over their education. Ask your kids. Listen. And then build that into their routine.

Focus on rhythm not routine

On that note, be careful about schedules and routines. There are a lot of hour by hour recommendations floating around, but I firmly believe in the idea of rhythm over routine. It’s wonderful when one thing leads to the next breakfast, clean-up, reading, outside time, worksheets, online art class, lunch, etc. but if your kids are happily making mud pies and running a bakery in the playhouse outside, don’t stop them!

Do not mimic school

Homeschool life looks a lot different than school life. Your hours will be shorter, lessons more individualized. The beauty of homeschooling is that you can customize everything! Let that be a gift rather than a burden. Follow your child’s passions, invite them into your hobbies, and do life together. There is so much learning available in daily life.

Share the responsibility

Since homeschooling doesn’t have to happen during traditional hours one parent doesn’t have to take it on 100%. Have one parent facilitate a subject after dinner or see if a neighbor or grandparent will host a mini book club with a weekly FaceTime discussion. Delegate to online portals like Outschool and the swarm of classes launching online right now. Get creative, share the responsibility!

Get outside everyday

They need the exercise and you need the refresh. Every single day, no matter the weather, get outside for a breath of fresh air.

Accept that some things won’t work

Each week evaluate what went well and what didn’t. Ask yourself and the kids. Then, adjust! You’re not locked into ANYTHING. There are no state requirements during this time and you’re not reporting to anyone. Do what works best for your family.

When all else fails, read

They say that readers never stop learning. Nurture that. Snuggle and read together first thing in the morning. Alternate reading sentences or paragraphs. Offer a sweet treat during solo reading time. Do voices for different characters. Listen on audio while they color, bead, or paint. Let older kids take a bath and read by candlelight. Plan to watch the movie of a classic book when you’re done reading. Have older siblings read to younger siblings. Wrap a mix of nonfiction and fiction books and place a clue on the front for a mystery selection. Let them video themselves reading aloud and email it to a cousin or friend. Just read. Everyday. If that’s all you do. This stint of homeschooling will be a success.