You CAN Homeschool!


Welcome home!

Whether you are a “homeschooler” or a “suddenly-at-home” schooler, the COVID-19 confinement period is daunting! No more soccer practices, piano lessons or math classes. No trips to the zoo or park days with friends. We’re staring at the same four walls and they start to feel like they are closing in.

All of us are looking for ways to foster learning and play rather than the dreaded “wandering nomad syndrome”—kids who glaze over and complain that there is still nothing to do. I have 3 tips to help you help your kids to experience this season as a gift, rather than a punishment.

Make memories

Have you ever wished that you could stop the freight train of your life? Have you ever craved a break from the busy-ness, the activities, the recitals and performances and tournaments? 

Despite the painful realization that some of our treasured experiences are being side-lined by the threat of the coronavirus, behind that disappointment can be found a gift—the gift of time to be a family at home.

When national tragedy hits or a family member is stricken with an unusual illness, we remember that experience for the rest of our lives. Adults often feel the stress and anxiety of that event at a more profound level than children. Our kids count on us to create for them a life of peace and meaning.

One way to help our kids is to put our hearts and energy into their felt experience. Can we teach them to knit or bake bread? Can we grow seedlings from seeds? What would it be like to play board games for an entire day? What if we read to our kids for an hour each day? We have a chance to be the fun parents here—the ones who enjoy our children’s company, undistracted by the other pressing demands that usually call on us to prepare to leave the house.

We want our kids to look back 20 years from now and say: “That was when the Coronavirus hit! My mom read the whole Chronicles of Narnia series, and I learned how to play a kazoo with my dad.”

Fold academics into play and parties

Now’s the time to play the games. All the board, video, and card games. Reinforce math skills with dice, cards, Monopoly money, and Battleship coordinates. Trust that you are helping your kids think about strategy and calculations, predictions and percentages.

If you worry about your child losing precious time to grow as a writer, consider the timeless art of freewriting! Create a little writing support group as a family. Set a timer for 3-5 minutes, pick a word out of a hat or pull a quote from a book, or write about any topic under the sun—everyone, parent and child together. Let yourself go, writing as fast as possible, without worrying about punctuation and spelling. For now, enjoy the catharsis of self-expression. 

Read to your children, ask them to read to you. Throw a poetry teatime! Set the table for tea and treats (even cinnamon toast works!) and read poems to one another. If you don’t have any poetry books, print poems from the online poetry anthology called the Poetry Foundation:

Have Big Juicy Conversations

Now is a great time to talk about all of it. Examine the difference in headlines around the news, discuss how germs and viruses work, look at a globe and identify the countries on the map as you look at the spread of the virus, discuss your plans for after the confinement ends, talk about how to offer kindness to shut-ins (perhaps Facetime Grandma, or post your own recital to Twitter or Instagram so family can see you). This is a time to take it slow—to not rush an answer, but to chase the rabbit trail. Try putting questions on Post It Notes and sticking them to a door. Build them up over a day’s time and then talk about the ones that accumulated at dinner. See where they lead!

Learning at home is different than school. Our lives wrap themselves around the learning. It comes from a more organic (and often more memorable) place. Everything can teach anything, and anything can teach everything, if you have the heart to see it.

Brave Writer's 7 Day Writing Blitz  has a free download to help you play with words and grow your young writers.
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Julie Bogart homeschooled her five children for seventeen years. Now she runs Brave Writer, the online writing and language arts program for families, and is the founder of The Homeschool Alliance and Poetry Teatime.