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Tips from a veteran homeschooler

  • 03 April 2020
As more schools close to stop the spread of COVID-19, many parents are becoming instant homeschoolers. I’m a mum of six who started homeschooling before it was cool, and friends have been asking my advice.

I’m no expert. Stuck at home with no trips to the library, no playdates, no co-op, no basketball, swimming, robotics club, or scouts? This is not what homeschooling looks like. Having said that, there are some things I’ve picked up along the way that can help a lot.

Practice self care, don’t compare. I’m putting this first because, as a parent, it’s easy to put our needs last. This doesn’t work when you’re homeschooling. It’s important that you take care of yourself, so everything doesn’t fall apart.

Self care looks different for different people. Perhaps it’s waking up early to exercise or drink a coffee with nobody touching you. It might mean enforcing a silent reading hour after lunch to take a nap or read a good book. Maybe you lock yourself away in the evenings to have a bath or videocall your friends (just maybe not both at the same time!)

Some friends on social media deal with the stress of this enforced togetherness by projecting confidence. Newsfeeds become flooded with aspirational images of immaculate ‘school rooms’, clean, well-dressed children absorbed in work, mothers demonstrating science experiments with a full head of make-up and perfect hair (#homeschoollyf #iwokeupthisway). Remind yourself, when you behold your own bickering children and breakfast-spattered workspace, that social media presents a carefully edited highlight reel, which is far from the full story.

Routine is your friend. This sounds dull, but it helps to find a rhythm to each day.  When broken down into chunks, everything becomes more manageable.  You will discover that book work doesn’t take as much time at home as it would at school. 'Book work' is what homeschoolers call learning that’s done at a desk, as opposed to the learning that occurs in the kitchen or the garden or on the trampoline.


'Most importantly, don’t panic. This will be tough. There’ll be tantrums and meltdowns — and the kids might be upset too! But we can do this.'  

Schedule something in each day to look forward to, for you as well as for the kids. And it’s definitely OK to take time to do housework. Your school will run more efficiently if everybody has clean underwear.

Resist information overload. There are so many resources. Khan Academy, BBC