Homeschooling 101: Parents Guide to Education at Home During COVID-19

The outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic meant many schools across the globe had to close, forcing parents to become teachers. Education at home is a difficult task for parents, especially if you're also trying to work (alongside household tasks and chores). 

education at home dad teaching child

Here’s the inside knowledge on homeschooling your kids in these uncertain times until things get back to normal.

Creating a Schedule

Children respond well to routine. When they know what times they’ll be working and for how long, they’re more likely to stay focused. Most schools follow a similar structure, with learning in the morning, followed by recess, then more learning, lunch, then some more learning until school's out. Kids need at least two extended breaks a day to keep up their energy and productivity levels.

If you have a curriculum or lesson plan to go from, it’s usually better to have more intensive work, like reading and writing or math, in the morning. Then in the afternoon, focus on subjects such as science, geography, history and art which are less intense and more interactive. 

It’s a good idea to maintain the same morning schedule during the week and mixing the afternoons up, so your kids constantly experience something new. They can easily get bored and when they’re bored, they switch off. So what can you do to keep them engaged?

During lockdown, it can be harder for your kids to ‘wake up’ in the morning because they don’t have to get ready for school or travel there. You can recreate this wake-up by doing some light, guided exercise or yoga. It’ll get their blood flowing and brains more ready for a day of learning. However, don’t make it too tiring or they may just want to take a nap come afternoon.

We’d recommend creating a visual schedule for the week and pinning it up somewhere where everyone can see it, so everybody knows what’s happening and when. It might be worth sitting down with your child/children and going through what they’d usually do at school. 

Ask them if there’s anything they don’t like (such as double gym on a Monday morning!) You can sit down as a family and figure out what works best, even if it means splitting up days when you need to work. Don’t beat yourself up if you can’t dedicate full days to normal lessons - we’re living through tough times and you’re doing your best.

An Example Day

Timetables and schedules will vary from school to school, state to state. If you can get your hands on your child’s normal school schedule - fantastic. You can use it for a lot of inspiration while altering it to fit your circumstances. 

It’s good practice to break the day up into learning and non-learning time, so kids know when they have to put their thinking caps on and what they have to look forward to. Here’s an example schedule you could use to plan your days and over time, get familiar with. We’ve designed this for a younger child, around the age of six to eight, but feel free to adapt it based on your child’s age.

9am-9:30am

Yoga or exercise

9:30am-10am

Reading

10am-11am

Writing practice

11am-11:30am

Break and snack

11:30am-12:30pm

Math practice

12:30pm-1:30pm

Lunch

1:30pm-2:30pm

Geography/History

2:30pm-3:30pm

Science/Art

 

N.B. We aren't education professionals, so this example should be seen as inspiration rather than something to fully implement. Talk to your child’s teacher for more information on their everyday activities.

Getting Organized

Another homeschooling tip for brilliant education at home is to be organized, which can be captured in several key ways.

First of all, create a ‘school space’ - a set area the kids learn in every day, a space where they can properly get in the learning mindset and not be distracted by the TV, their toys or the family dog. This could be your dining table, part of your kitchen or your home office. Why not print off some motivational posters or multiplication tables to put on the walls, turning it into a school away from school?

But what else can you do?

Manage Screen Time

When kids are at home, they’re much closer to their devices - phones, tablets, laptops and games consoles. These things can be seriously tempting, so it’s good to stash them away during ‘school’ hours. You can treat them as rewards for a hard day’s work, getting them out when school finishes. 

If you’re using laptops or tablets to teach, make sure you have full control of them. You can even block specific apps at times so your child doesn’t sneakily start to play any games. 

Set Boundaries

Homeschooling only works when kids know the boundaries. During school hours, you need to indicate that you’re the ‘teacher’ and not the ‘parent’ anymore. You also need to make sure your schedule is followed, with a clear start and end to the learning day. 

You could even wear a teacher uniform yourself to help your kids identify this is the time for learning. A shirt and tie will do a great job and you could even include a name tag.

Where to Find Lesson Content

We realize it’s difficult to structure lessons and find content yourself, especially if you also work a day job. However, there are multiple resources out there to utilize. Here are some of our favorites:

  • Duolingo: A free downloadable app for fun language learning.
  • Scholastic: Scholastic has learning resources for children aged 0-5 and 5-11. They also have a $6 per month Learn at Home offering which has lots of educational activities for kids aged 4-11.
  • Outschool: This learning platform is offering live online classes for students from three to 18 years old.
  • Varsity Tutors: Varsity Tutors offer a free program called Virtual School Day which provides learning resources and live lessons for K-12 students.
  • New York City Department of Education: NYC Department of Education released a free 10-day curriculum for many subjects. While mainly aimed at the NYC district, it can be applied to students nationwide. 

There are so many different homeschooling tips and learning resources out there, so we’d love to learn about some of your homeschooling as gay dads. What resources do you find best? Do you have any top tips for keeping kids engaged in their lessons? We want to hear it all; just get in touch!

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