When You Become a Homeschool Teacher Overnight

By Kelly Guidry, LPC-S

Now more than ever is the idea of an at-home schedule or routine both necessary, and daunting.  With kids being home from school, and suddenly thrown into a homeschool mix, you may find yourself wanting to quit your new teaching job.  A schedule / routine is going to be your best friend during this time. School work and assignments are going to come, but the biggest thing to know is that at school, kids transition from one lesson to the next in a pretty structured format.  Remember, they have reading at the same time everyday, math at the same time everyday, specials at the same time everyday….. What I’m getting at is that kids know what to expect and when they know what to expect, they transition easier. So here are some tips on how to create a schedule or structure that works for you and your family:

  • Think about what needs to get done in a day.  This includes breaking down what assignments need to be done from school in a very specific way.  Think about this – how many times have you told your kid to “clean their room” and when you go to check their room is a disaster, but they think they have cleaned?  This is because the broad statement of clean your room means something different to them then it does to you. You will have the same thing happen if you say “do your schoolwork”.  Knowing what school work needs to be done and helping your child prioritize their work is step number one. Making a list so they can visually see what the expectations are is really helpful.


  • Have similar expectations for their daily routines like you would if they were going to school.  Get them up in the morning; follow your typical morning routine, including getting dressed (even if you aren’t leaving the house).  Do all of the regular things before you jump into the idea of having to do school work, which is out of the ordinary for your home routine.  Then at the end of the day, transition into your evening routine.
  • Try to set up a separate workspace in your home if you are schooling, to differentiate work time, from play time. This will make transitions to and from the “school” day easier.


  • Have a conversation with your child about what they would want to work on first.  Some kids do better getting the harder, more challenging work done first and others are the opposite.  At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter the order of the work as long as they are doing it. So, allow them some choice in this decision which will help them have ownership over their work as well.


  • If you don’t have a formal curriculum to follow, let them choose topics to research, then write, read, and do math within that subject. Use the many free resources now online to take “field trips” to famous zoos, museums, and historical sites. Build writing prompts, projects, and further reading from those topics. You have some freedom here to expand your child’s mind and what their concept of learning is!


  • Give them breaks.  Remember at school they have things like specials, centers, and lunch.  All kinds of great things that allow them to get up and move around a little bit.  Do the same thing at home. Let them get up and run around a little bit or work on an art project or music for a while.  This is a great opportunity to get in more art, cooking, music, and physical activity than typical, due to cuts in those areas at school.


  • Set your expectations and make them clear.  If you want to incorporate physical exercise into your daily routine, your child may not want to do this.  Talk with them about what the expectations are for following a routine. If your child knows that they have to do some form of physical activity 3 days per week, let them know which three days or ask them which three days they prefer.  Any time you can include your child in some of the decision making you will have a smoother transition in implementing changes.


  • Know your child.  You know better than any teacher does how your child works best.  Some kids don’t have long attention spans and will need work to be broken up into 15 minute segments.  Other kids will want to sit down and do it all at once. Some kids have a ton of energy and will need movement built into their work.  Because you know these things about your child, you will be able to play into their strengths and find what works best for everyone at home.


  • Practice Patience.  Unless you are a teacher, you didn’t go to school to teach.  Your kids didn’t start the grade they are in with you as their teacher.  For some little kids, this will be their first introduction to a fully online system and they will have to learn technology for the first time.  For older kids, they will likely know far more about the technology than some of their parents. What it boils down to is that patience is warranted more than ever.


  • Be Flexible and Reflective.  When teachers start a school year they usually establish classroom rules and have a schedule in place that is given to parents.  You haven’t done this yet, so know that it is okay to start with one schedule, and then adapt it as you go. First, ask yourself and your child what went well throughout the day and then do more of that.  Second, ask yourself and your child what didn’t go well and why it didn’t, then adjust in those spots. This is a great exercise in flexible thinking which is sometimes hard for our kiddos.


Parents, we admire what you are doing to step up for your kids in this time of uncertainty and change.  If you need a consultation for a more structured format or schedule that works for you and your family, please reach out to us, we are happy to help.

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