Becoming a teacher overnight may not have been in the plans, but it’s an experience you’ll never forget! Trying your best to keep your kids on a schedule will keep them on pace for next year, plus keep them busy! Below we’ve made a step by step guide on how to homeschool successfully on a budget.
Step 1: Use Your Current School Resources
Parents all over the world are being called to step up and fill the education void with limited to no experience. Many schools have set up a curriculum for children from Pre K – 12th grade, offering virtual classes and online homework. Some schools and local libraries are offering computers to rent out during the time of quarantine. Free or heavily discounted WiFi is being offered by companies like Comcast, and many libraries are extending their WiFi range into parking lots.
If your school district doesn’t have the capacity for online learning, look into free or paid programs and resources. Programs such as Scholastics Learn At Home, K12, Time 4 Learning or Calvert Homeschool all offer a free trial or paid program at all education levels. If you are looking to customize the course work, Teachers Pay Teachers is an online platform with over 3 million free and paid pdfs and resources.
For Spanish-speaking students, Academons is offering free access to 10,000+ learning games for primary students in all subjects. Last but not least is the Encantos Learning Hub. This program is a bilingual resource with education learned through cultural and diversified 21st Century Skills.
Step 2: Create a Learning Space
The biggest misconception with homeschooling is that you have to create a classroom in your home. If you can do so and that works best for your family, great! But, for most, they don’t have the time or funds to spend hundreds of dollars on classroom furniture and materials.
Is your kitchen table the only space available? Perfect! Set up a clean and organized space at your table with no distractions, and you’ll do just fine. Be sure to have the basic things your child needs: writing tools, books, paper, headphones, a computer (borrow from school if needed), access to Zoom and Google Classroom, etc.
Want to know our favorite simple tip to create a healthy homeschool environment? Playing classical music in the background will set a relaxing tone and has been found to encourage memory. Calm Radio offers a free holistic music experience to increase your productivity with unlimited classical, jazz and sleep music.
Step 3: Stick to a Schedule
It might seem daunting to figure out a homeschool schedule, especially if you are a working parent. While this is easier said than done, having a routine and expectation in the household will make everyone’s life easier.
Every Sunday, create a weekly schedule, display and share it with your children, and be flexible if things come up. This may even include meal prep or recipe planning for the week. The night before, lay out everything needed for the next day, and you’ll wake up to less chaos. Have patience with yourself and your children, this is new territory!
Most children can finish their schoolwork in half the time it would normally take at school given the absence of socializing, recess, and extra curricular like library, art, and gym. That extra time means you can designate them to chores, free time, extracurricular activities, outdoor play, and family time. They might complain at first about the schedule, but the feeling of completing tasks will start to feel rewarding. Remember, you aren’t stuck to a strict school schedule. Do what works for your family, and that might change from kid to kid. And if rewards work and you can swing it, go for it!
Step 4: Include the Extracurriculars
Extracurricular activities and movement are key tools during these unknown times. Everyone, including parents, are going to need the physical and mental health benefits of exercise and creativity. Make sure to put physical education, creative outlets, and fun into your child’s routine.
Explore what your kids love and what their interests are. This is the perfect time to encourage self-exploration and healthy hobbies. From coding to Spanish, you can find free courses on Coursera and DuoLingo.
If your child is on a school sports team, ask their coach to put together a virtual practice and keep them at it daily.
For younger children, Cosmic Kids Yoga is a great approach to meditation and practicing mindful movement.
Is your kiddo the next Jimmy Hendrix? Guitar company Fender is offering 3 free months of guitar, bass or ukulele lessons online.
If your kid loves to cook, teach them about measurements and ratios while making dinner. The options for fun and learning are endless!
Step 5: Education Based Screen Time
While putting your kids in front of a screen may seem counterproductive, there are intentional online education-based resources that are beneficial. Check out ABC Mouse, Khan Academy or Curiosity Stream.
From Pre-K reading lessons to science documentaries, there’s more than enough free or cheap resources to add to your arsenal. You can set a timer for screen time and have your children do a small quiz or short recap essay at the end. For younger children, learning alongside them and asking questions throughout is a good way to keep their attention and help them retain information.
Check out the #OperationStorytime on social media to watch your favorite live characters, actors and authors read family favorite books aloud.
Step 6: Stay in Contact With Your Child’s School and District
Make sure you are keeping up to date with changes in your school district. Plans for reopening our communities and schools are going to come in phases with plenty of guidelines differing by districts or counties. Keeping continued communication with your child’s teachers and school is imperative.
If there isn’t an easy form of communication happening yet, create one! Look to create an email chain, Facebook page, or weekly virtual PTA meeting. Not only will this allow everyone to be on the same page, it will give you a designated time and place to ask questions. It could be organized by grade, teacher or school. Having a community to connect with might help with the overwhelmingness of it all.
Simple Homeschooling On A Budget
Meeting the education demands while being the parent, counselor, maid, and the chef is going to get a bit stressful. Don’t allow it! The reality is this: every child is different and they learn at a different pace and capacity. Keep your child’s individual needs and attention span in mind and grow from there.
Preparation and patience is the name of the game! Look for teachable opportunities through disciplining your child because they will happen … often. Meltdowns, forgetfulness, and laziness are likely to creep up. Have grace with yourself and your kids; it’s your job to keep the sanity intact!
Who knows, you could love homeschooling, your child may thrive and now you’ve gained back family time. Education doesn’t stop in the classroom and the possibilities are endless!