How to Start Homeschooling Your Kids When You Suck at Teaching

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You probably landed here because you want to figure out how to start homeschooling your kids during these chaotic times, right? Or at the very least, figure out how to keep them from falling behind while so many schools are shut down.

 

After all, a lot of parents got thrown into this homeschooling gig against their will in 2020, amid the COVID-19 crisis. **Raises hand slowly**

 

And we all want answers to the same question: how do I start homeschooling my kid if I have no idea what I’m doing?

 

I hear you mama, and I’ve got some tips to help!

 

Let me start by saying that I’m not a homeschooling “expert” by any means. I was thrown into this gig without a choice just like you were! And my kids are still small.

 

BUT my preschooler needs routine and she loves to learn, so I’m taking advantage of that and working with her as much as I can.

 

I also love organization, productivity, and all that awesome-sauce (or annoying crap) that makes homeschooling a lot easier.

 

With a little prep work and perspective, homeschooling has become rather pleasant for us. And I want it to be as pleasant as possible for you too.

 

Here’s exactly what you need to do to survive homeschooling your kids during this tough season of life.

 

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HOW TO START HOMESCHOOLING (OFFICIALLY)

 

If you wanted to start an official homeschool program for your kids, the laws and process will depend largely on where you live.

 

We aren’t going to dig too deeply into this because we are focused on tips that will help us survive homeschooling our kids RIGHT NOW, even if it’s temporary.

 

But, if long-term homeschool is YOUR goal, just search for the Department of Education for your state to learn about the requirements.

 

Simply go to Google and search for: Department of Education Homeschool (add your state here).

 

HOW TO START HOMESCHOOLING YOUR KIDS WHEN YOU SUCK AT TEACHING

 

If you got thrown into the homeschool world due to world events, this article is for YOU.

 

And if your kids are small like mine, they might not have a daily school curriculum they are required to follow. The teacher basically just gave us a bunch of homework packets and books and said ‘do a little bit each day.’

 

That actually makes your job a whole lot easier and more flexible!

 

But even if they do have a required curriculum, you can still follow these tips to make it as stress-free as possible.

 

FIRST STEP TO HOMESCHOOLING SUCCESS: PERSPECTIVE

 

I know it sounds so cliché, but step one is ALWAYS going to be: get some perspective.

 

Firstly, just acknowledge that maybe you aren’t a “teacher” by nature (if you are a teacher by profession, then you probably still aren’t used to being your kids’ teacher).

 

You’re not a seasoned teacher and things are not going to be perfect… and that’s okay!

 

Let go of perfection right now.

 

Let logical perspective be your guide throughout this process: we’ll do the best we can, we’ll learn a little bit every day, and everyone will be just fine!

 

african american mom and daughter with eyes closed taking deep breaths

 

TIP TWO: SET A SCHEDULE

 

Alright, we’ve got some perspective. We’re jumping into this thing with open eyes and an open mind.

 

Now, here’s how to start homeschooling: set up a REASONABLE daily schedule and stick with it to the best of your ability.

 

Seriously.

 

That’s the ultimate goal here. We want our kids to thrive during these chaotic times, so we need to be reasonable, do the best we can, and try to keep somewhat of an organized schedule.

 

This way, our kids will know what to expect each day.

 

If you’re working from home (like me), you’ll have to do a bit more juggling than some homeschooling moms, but that’s okay. You can do this!

 

Everyone’s daily schedule will look a little different, but here is a sample homeschool schedule based on the grade your kids are in.

 

And here is what’s working for us most days:

 

-Breakfast
-Letter tracing and word practice
-Number counting
-Quick break for stretches + snack
-Puzzles or other hands-on activity
-Play outside/physical activity until lunch
-Lunch + relax (1 hour max)
-Nap for toddler / craft time for preschooler
-Max of 2 educational videos or shows
-Facetime with a friend/relative or write a letter

-Regular evening routine

 

We try to stay super consistent with the morning routine every day, but our afternoon routine is much more relaxed… especially because I also work from home full-time and have a lot on my daily to-do list!

 

You might also notice that our schedule doesn’t focus on specific amounts of time (20 minutes of reading, 20 minutes of writing etc). Our main goal is to complete several important social and scholastic tasks each day of the week.

 

Why?

 

I’m not a school professor, I’m a mother.

 

I want to make learning an enjoyable bonding experience with my small kids while we’re stuck at home together. I truly believe that being consistent is more important than being rigid with timing.

 

It doesn’t matter what your schedule looks like. It just matters that you and your kids are relatively consistent and sane.

 

Here is a free Weekly Preschool Schedule just for you and your littles!

 

TIP THREE: SUNSHINE + FRESH AIR

 

If you’re teaching your kids at home, you need to make sure everyone is getting plenty of light and fresh air. No dark creepy living rooms allowed ’round here you guys!

 

Open up the curtains as soon as everyone wakes up.

 

If the weather is nice, open up the windows and doors to let fresh air in. Brighten up that house – it’ll wake everyone up and help them to focus!

 

Dark and cozy environments encourage sleepiness and relaxing. Bright, clean, fresh areas encourage focus… and we NEED to focus, even if it’s just for a little bit.

 

Brighten up the house, freshen up the air, and set the atmosphere for learning.

 

 

TIP FOUR: A DESIGNATED LEARNING SPACE

 

Although you don’t need to sit at your desk or kitchen table for the entire day, you and your child(ren) should do a little bit of homeschool work in their designated learning space each day…especially for the sake of routine.

 

If you don’t plan to homeschool for the long haul, your kids will be back in a classroom at some point. When that time comes, we want to make sure we contributed to a positive daily school routine. A little bit of focused, seated, dedicated homeschool time will help.

 

Even just a little bit!

 

My daughter is a preschooler and my toddler isn’t technically a ‘student’ yet, but we still do 30-60 minutes of seated learning time at her preschool station every day. They also have designated quiet time in their rooms and they do their own arts/crafts/puzzles each day too.

 

If your kid has a school curriculum they have to follow, the time to do it is during designated homeschool hours.

 

TIP FIVE: MAKE DAILY LIFE EDUCATIONAL

 

Most moms have a full schedule. And those that weren’t planning to homeschool this year have probably been thrown for a loop!

 

It’s not always possible to sit down and do homework for hours each day.

 

When organized schoolwork just can’t happen, make daily life and daily experiences just a little more educational.

 

Whether you’re cooking, cleaning, working from home, or doing your monthly budget, there are so many educational things for your kids to learn!

 

Teach your kids how to use measuring cups while you bake cookies. Teach them to do the laundry, help with the grocery list, or check the oil in the car (depending on their age).

 

Life experience is often more valuable than formal education anyway, so give those kiddos some life experience and don’t feel bad about it!

 

 

TIP SIX: USE FUN LEARNING MATERIALS

 

Again, this is a little easier when you don’t have a required curriculum that you must follow, but you can find ways to incorporate fun stuff into your homeschool routine no matter what.

 

Some fun ideas:

 

Do math equations and letter tracing outside with sidewalk chalk.
Take virtual museum tours.
Do virtual gymnastics classes with a company like Gyminny!
Design your own coloring books using Stencil or Canva.
Count with candy or legos.
Use hilariously gross learning tools for kids from He’s All Boy.

 

TIP SEVEN: TAKE MORE BREAKS

 

When our kids are at school, they are burning off energy between class work and they’re getting breaks and subject shifts to keep them engaged.

 

If you or your kids are feeling frustrated, it’s OKAY to take a break.

 

Go outside, watch a show, read a book, or play a game.

 

Try to stick with your schedule whenever possible, but remember to be flexible and pay attention to your children’s cues. If they need a break, let’s take a break.

 

TIP EIGHT: HELP THE KIDS MENTALLY PREPARE FOR TOMORROW

 

I have a little bedtime routine with my kids that makes everyone’s life easier.

 

After baths and stories, we talk about our favorite part of the day. And then we talk about what we’re going to do tomorrow.

 

Just saying something simple to your small child like, ‘after breakfast tomorrow, we’re going to do some school work’ can help them process what to expect.

 

Keep it simple, but get your kids involved in the homeschooling convo.

 

‘Here’s what we’re doing. Here’s why.’

 

And then stick to it!

 

TIP NINE: DON’T SHY AWAY FROM REWARDS

 

I used to be on the fence about rewarding good behavior too much.

 

But I realize now that every kid is different. Some kids thrive on praise and rewards. Other kids are just inherently good, and they’d be good even if there was no reward (I have one of each).

 

If your kid excels more because of praise and rewards, by all means, shower those kiddos with praise and rewards!

 

This is about SURVIVAL mama!

 

Those are my top tips for how to start homeschooling, but I never feel quite complete unless I call in some outside help from other mamas. So, here are some tips from other homeschooling parents around the world.

 

MORE TIPS FROM HOMESCHOOLING PROS!

 

  1. ‘Plan your school work schedule a few days in advance and put all the work into piles for each day. Have a schedule written out for the upcoming weeks so you know what you need to be planning.’ – Carol from Crazy Tots and Me.

 

  1. ‘Look for ways to add kinesthetic learning (hands on activities) to the day. Use blueberries or goldfish to learn math, get outside and garden to learn about life cycles, make a sensory bin. Especially when it comes to younger kids, they learn so much better by getting actively involved in the lesson!’ – Christine from The Growing Creatives.

 

I definitely find this to be true in our home!

 

  1. ‘For Montessori preschoolers, try rotating their toys. We’ll try to do a different subject every day and pulling out toys, games, and puzzles he hasn’t seen in a few weeks has totally helped amp up his engagement. We did a home safari with a kit he hasn’t touched since the holidays and it was such a hit because it was “like new”!’ – Victoria from Tori-Leigh.

 

  1. ‘Work with a checklist versus a timetable. A checklist that is task-oriented versus time-oriented really makes a big difference for both kids and parents. Less time pressure for parents and you both feel more accomplished.’ – Love this tip from Chantal of Momplete!

 

  1. ‘Remember that restless learners may need a change of scenery. Don’t be afraid to go to the park, sit on the trampoline, or go to a different room for alternate learning.’ – Nicole from Everyday Thrifty.

 

  1. ‘Prioritize sleep. A tired child can’t pay attention, and it’s like working against yourself. This means that if my (almost) teen, who has always struggled with sleep, is tired when it’s time for school. We put off school, and he naps. Then we do school. He does much better that way and our relationship is better.’ – Excellent tip from Ali of Homeschool Money Mom!

 

  1. ‘Create a weekly to-do list and write out all reading, assignments, tests, due dates, vocabulary words (if applicable), and logins/passwords to all of the various sites they need. Keep it in the front pocket of a binder and clip together each week’s assignments so that you have them all together inside should you need to resubmit. Organization is everything!’ – Tip from Lindsay Satmary.

 

And y’all know how much I love this organization stuff! That little homeschool hack is top-notch!

 

  1. ‘Take advantage of free online learning resources to help your days run smoother and to diversify your schedule.’ – Heather from Bloggers Share has a big list of homeschool resources here.

 

HOW TO START HOMESCHOOLING YOUR KIDS WHEN YOU’RE CLUELESS

 

Wanna know the real secret?

 

Just take a deep breath, jump in with both feet, and figure the rest out as you go! Because we’re all clueless in the beginning.

 

Get organized, create a daily schedule, get the kids involved, and try to make the learning as fun as possible. It won’t be perfect, but that’s okay.

 

Consistency is better than perfection!

 

Related Reads:

 

75 Fun Activities to do With Your Kids During School Cancellations

A Busy Mom’s Guide to Cleaning House Quickly

How to Get All Your Clean Laundry Put Away in Under a Minute

 

 

10 thoughts on “How to Start Homeschooling Your Kids When You Suck at Teaching”

  1. Thank you so much for including me in your article! This is a pleasingly thorough and encouraging post. Just what moms need to feel prepared and capable.

    And I can’t agree more with the tip about fresh air and sunshine. My littles (currently 2, 4, and 5) always do better during school if they have spent an hour or so playing outside first. We are so privileged to live in area where the outdoors are accessible 🙂

    1. That’s awesome, my kids are little wild animals that practically live outside, gotta drag them back into the house for food and homework haha!

  2. I love the tip about using hands on learning to help with topics. My daughter is not so enthusiastic about counting, but if she counts her strawberries at snack time then I know she’d be all about it!

  3. Awesome post! I’m definitely going to share this with my sister. As I’m spending this time with my niece and sister in law so she is going to love this post too. I really loved the consistency part. Even a small activity every day matters.

    Arfa

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