Okay, so you’re homeschooling because you are either all about wanting to set controls over what your child is learning and doing throughout the day or a pandemic has swept the globe and you are forced to change everything to accommodate online education.
While homeschooling is neither new nor unprecedented, what is unique these days is just how many families are now considering alternative options to public and private schools all at once. The great news is that you’ve entertained this, which is INCREDIBLE! Wrapping your mind around turning your home into a multi-functional hub is no small feat.
On the surface, it looks like ‘You Got This’! But do you really? Juggling the family household and your job, communication with the teacher, and flexing your schedule for unforeseen events are just a few things to consider when conquering online education.
We totally want you to perfect this process and have deep dived online resources and asked successful parents how they manage homeschooling to deliver you a Complete List of Online Education Tips For Homeschool Parents.
In short, these Homeschool Tips will tell you all about explain:
- Pre-Homeschool Basics
- Online Education Preparation
- Schedule Check-in Times
- Virtual Education Work Zone
- Be Flexible
- Homeschool & Online Education at the Franklin Music Academy
Let’s get started!
1. Pre-Homeschool Basics
Hold on! Before we get into the specifics there are two things that you must do routinely to make this homeschool experience work:
- Practice Effective Listening
These two tips are literally the most important tips you need to run an ideal homeschool! Start with the basics. To effectively set your child up for success there should be a natural progression of systems that you utilize throughout the day. No one just becomes an expert overnight without reinforced routines. How can you expect your child to conquer a new way of doing things if your home is not running like a well-oiled machine?
Practice Effective Listening
Effective Listening cannot be learned overnight and will take some devoted practice. Once your family has perfected this technique it will magically help you to resolve other household issues. With prayer, deep breathing, and a lot of patience think S.S.U.R.R. before reacting to your child.
5 Effective Listening Steps
- Stay Put – Do not move. If you’re busy walking around and delegating tasks simultaneously like some high powered boss this will not work with your child. Not at first. If you need to address an issue, stop what you’re doing.
- Simplify – You aren’t talking to a colleague, your friend, or another adult. The conversation needs to be broken down to a level that your child understands. Do you remember when your parents told you, ‘Because I said so!’ for everything?! While that should sometimes apply, don’t use it all the time.
- Undivided Attention – We know this is hard to do. As quickly as your me-time cometh your child taketh away. However, whatever it is, it can wait if it’s important. Make eye contact with your child so they know you’re listening and make sure you are limiting any distractions around you.
- Remain Calm – How you react to your child’s issues is literally their training in the making. If you are always overly anxious then they will be, if you are always snappy and cold then they will learn to be that way too. Be patient and calm when speaking to your child.
- Reiterate – There is nothing more annoying like having a conversation and then a few days later your child does the same thing incorrectly. Help their retention by allowing them to reiterate what they learned. A healthy dialogue between you and your child will help them to remember your talking points.
You will notice your child will adapt to your demands over time if you practice these steps on a routine basis. For the parents that have made a choice to be home you should see improvements within the first month or two of doing this diligently.
How does your home look day-to-day for the most part? If you are reading this and reacting to the fact that your home mostly looks like a disaster then you will need to implement change immediately.
Sure, you have kids and it’s not easy to get them to clean up after themselves, especially if they’re toddlers, but getting them to focus on systems will prove to be helpful.
7 Organizational Steps
- Don’t overindulge – Trends come and go. Ask yourself, Does my child need this, is it essential? If not, learn to say, no, when it comes to buying things that will only end up on your floor and abandoned next week. Chances are that if your child isn’t used to clutter then they won’t like it either when they get older.
- Label things – Put labels or pictures on cubbies, drawers, or shelving so that your child can help you keep things tidy.
- Cleaning – Start ’em early! Cleaning should be a team effort, not a parent effort. All things in your house should have a home so when its time to retrieve something it’s there where it should be.
- Simplify – Break assignments and household duties into chunks with a beginning, middle, and an end. For example, sweeping the floor should be to first, pick things off the floor and move things out the way, sweep and discard trash, and lastly, move things back in place. Find ways to break other tasks down to manageable parts.
- Schedule – Implement calendars and reminders to help move the day along. Give your child a set timeframe to complete tasks and chores to introduce time management.
- Color – Using bright pops of color is eye-catching and is hard to ignore. List of chores, school folders, and important reminders should be recognizable.
- Purge – When your child has lost his enthusiasm using something, give it away, hand it down, or donate. This process is really cool when you involve your child as it teaches them to be giving and charitable. Every month make it a point to go through your child’s room to eliminate clothing, books, toys, etc. Weekly you should have them go through their folders and backpack to purge things that are no longer relevant and keep important things organized.
Whew! Okay, that was a lot, but remember the keyword that was used over and over in this section was routine. Put these steps into practice daily. Be advised, if you stop reinforcing the routine the progress made will just crash and burn.
2. Online Education Preparation
Incorporating the two steps outlined in the Preliminary Homeschool Checklist will benefit you tremendously in your prep. If you are teaching remotely or assisting in your child’s online homeschool with a teacher, make sure your child is comfortable navigating content and activities and completing tasks. The organizational skills that you practice with your child regarding scheduling time to check up on things and simplifying tasks should work well here.
If there is a parent portal or communication method utilize it so you know how to best assist the teacher and provide support for your child. Communicating with the teacher frequently is going to be key to a successful online education.
In your preparation, seek out online resources. At our music school, we have a few families that homeschool and many of them have commented on the aid of Homeschool, which has been around for 20 years! We also contacted one of our music school parents to give us some resources on homeschooling as she is a teacher for Austin ISD. We were provided a tip sheet on Social and Emotional Learning Tips for Caregiving and Teaching. Some of the tips we’ve documented in our search can be found on the SEL Tips Caregiving AND Teaching in 2020 (English & Spanish).
Last, but not least. For your sanity, be sure to network with local homeschool parents early on so that you can depend on them for play dates and keep you motivated.
3. Schedule Check-in Times
Set time when you and your child can touch base and have them prepare unanswered questions they had during their virtual lessons. If your child is too young to write then make sure to be checking in from time to time throughout the day.
Put your organizational skills to the test. Designate a white board, chalk board, or even a notebook ‘Question Station’ at home so that your child can jot down questions when you’re busy. This will help everyone involved, including you.
For those of you that are juggling a job and homeschool, scheduling maybe a little tough especially if you are working away from home. Some days may not allow for checking-in and this should be expected. Be sure that you are communicating your efforts with your manager. It’s likely you aren’t the only one in the office homeschooling and perhaps your boss or team can share some nuggets of advice.
4. Virtual Education Work Zone
Set up a comfortable, well-lit area and designate it for work. This can be a few areas around the home inside and outside to keep it interesting.
Lets face it, not everyone has a sprawling home with endless space to create an in-home classroom. If your home is small and charming you may have to be a little more creative and maximize walls with shelving and boards. There are tons of ideas online that will help you to organize a space into functional study hall.
While creating your home classroom, ask your kids what they miss about school and try to incorporate those things into your homeschool space. They will be excited that they got to help out in designing their workspace and will give them a sense of ownership.
Avoid working from the couch or bed – when it is time to relax your brain might find it hard to shut off work thoughts.
Check in on your students’ learning progress through online methods. This can easily be done by setting reminders and notifications for a quick peek online via the parent portal.
Do this daily and stay consistent! If you’re super busy ask questions or refer to your ‘Question Station’ during dinner. Checking in keeps your child more involved and focused.
Make sure your child knows exactly where to receive their assignments, submit their work, or ask questions. Never assume that your child fully understands until you know they do for sure.
Set out your expectations clearly to your child and teacher. Hearing instructions a few times will be helpful to your child and eliminate confusion.
Most people pride themselves in how much they get done in a day and when a meeting was missed or a deadline wasn’t met then this can be very frustrating. However, keep in mind that you are juggling a lot more than you’re used to because you made the choice to homeschool for a very good reason. Don’t think that once you set goals you can move on. Throughout the semester, you will more than likely have to proactively adjust your expectations.
Communicate to your child the importance of work, what it means, and how it affects their lives. Your kids have a job to do and so do you. Getting them to understand life after school will help you better manage the homeschool situation.
There is no better time than now to teach your child responsibility. You should be enlisting the kids to help out with duties around the house like setting the table or putting dishes in the dishwasher. The more organized you are with your time, the better it will be for your team or manager to accommodate your needs at home.
7. Be Flexible
Be empathetic of the home situation of your child as some may not be communicating with a live teacher or have limited interaction. Take things in stride and be patient. If the online teacher is not up-to-date on things then don’t stress out. You can only be held accountable for your actions.
Remember, you and your child are still relatively new to receiving online education at home. Take all things into consideration. If your kid needs special support, be open to their unique needs.
But what if your homeschooler isn’t getting it, what then?
- Stop. Take a deep breath. – In all frustrating moments this is the best initial solution. There is a communication break down and before things escalate just wait a minute and internalize what’s happening.
- Take a break. – Ever been in a situation where you have studied nonstop and then the words start blurring before your eyes? The same thing will happen to your child if breaks aren’t implemented throughout the day. Brain breaks are scientifically proven to be very effective in studying. If your child needs more time then maybe taking the day off is warranted. Companies nowadays encourage employees to take mental health days. Why should it be any different for your child?
- Everyone is different. – Do not compare your child to anyone else! Sometimes new concepts need a while to digest and that is okay. Try to understand the unique learning style of your child and try to interpret the material in a different way.
- Ask for help. – Sorry to say, but maybe you aren’t the best fit. The way you teach may not jive with your child’s learning style. It might be more prudent to get an older sibling or your significant other to help explain.
- Find a tutor or specialist that can help you. – If no one can help your child’s confusion then hire a tutor to assist you. Leave the difficult subjects to a professional. Not in the budget? Find a high school or college student that will teach your child for less.
When the school week is over, let it be over! Give your child time to do what they want and make sure that you are relaxing as well.
Don’t ever feel like you’re alone in prepping or mastering homeschool. Read online forums or join a Facebook group dedicated to homeschooling and collaborate with parents that are facing the same challenges you are. This is a place for you to comfortably vent and get advice. Moderators of these groups can be tremendously resourceful and allocate lots of time to make parent’s lives easier. In the Austin area, we recommend you join South Austin Quaranteam, which has formed sister groups. SAQ even allows members to post comments anonymously!
Homeschooling for many can be challenging, but don’t let it overwhelm you or your child. If there are any unresolved issues, put a pin in it, schedule a reminder, and tackle it on Monday.
Homeschool & Online Education at the Franklin Music Academy
Mixing music as an extra curricular activity is a great way to diversity your child’s online education. As homeschooling has become more popular across the nation our music instructors continuously strive to make the online learning experience as easy and laid back as possible for our music students. We have online classes in piano, guitar, bass guitar, voice, and more.
Parents have the convenience of scheduling a virtual consultation online to meet their instructor to get an idea of what to expect before the first day of music lessons. Don’t worry about instrument purchases tech or instrument setup. We’ll getcha taken care of and we have multiple ways for parents and students to communicate with us for peace of mind.
Recently, the Franklin Music Academy has added homeschool services for families that work together in a micro school or pod. A skilled music instructor can travel to your location and teach group guitar or ukulele lessons to kids starting age 6+.
Franklin Music Academy
From classical and electric guitar to bass, keyboard, and songwriting, we’re proud to offer a variety of music lessons. Founded in 2010, Franklin Music Academy was established with the belief that kids could thrive through music with guidance from a passionate teacher. Early on, we started with a handful of students and a dream. Now, the academy is an important part of music education in Austin. We’re proud to offer lessons for students of all ages and musical backgrounds.
To learn more, fill out this contact form and we’ll be in touch!