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Homeschooling Hacks: A Cheat Sheet for Parents

Homeschooling Cheat Sheet: Everything you need to know to homeschool successfully.

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This post is full of homeschooling hacks to help you figure out when and where to start.

Homeschooling Cheet Sheet: Everything you need to know to homeschool successfully.

I am no Pollyanna. I am a realist. Years ago, early in our marriage, my husband informed me I have the gift of discouragement. And that’s probably true. I understand that suddenly homeschooling your kids with no warning or preparation during a global pandemic is rough. Here is a list of ideas on what to do when school is canceled indefinitely.

Homeschooling Hack 1: Take a Deep Breath

Chuck and Apollo on visitors day at summer camp.

Take a deep breath. Really. No one was prepared for this. Take a few days to adjust. Your kids will be fine, I promise. One thing I have learned from over 20 years of homeschooling is taking an extended break often fosters learning. Your kids get a chance to rest, reset, and recharge.

Having said that, rhythms and routines are important. This post is going to be a long one because it is my desire to help anyone struggling with homeschooling due to the virus. Please pin, bookmark, and share it with your friends.

Homeschooling Hack 2: A Word of Warning

Please don’t attempt to re-create school at home. The very nature of being at home vs school changes everything. Embrace, don’t fight, the change. Yes, you can homeschool in just two hours a day.

Fill your homeschooling days with great books, hands-on projects, and lifeskills. Play board games and do puzzles. Spent time outdoors every day. Choose a new hobby. The possibilities are endless!

ews Flash: Puberty Sucks. The how to survive guide for parents and kids}

Homeschooling Hack 3: Plan Don’t Panic

A Realistic Schedule for Homeschooling

You know what, since this is real life lets toss out the word schedule and replace it with routine. I recommend you download these free printables. They will walk you through the process step by step.

Step One: Figure out the Essentials

On the Weekly Essentials printable (free downloadable planner here), write down everything you need to accomplish during the week. This is your brainstorming page. Write down chores, meals to be made, phone calls to make, appointments (if there are any that haven’t been canceled), school goals, etc. Got that done? Perfect. Take a deep breath.

Now each night you will do the same with the Daily Essentials page. You will wake up in the morning with a plan and that alone helps most people feel more peaceful.

Step Two: Brainstorm Your Daily with Time Blocks

Sample daily routine for surviving social distancing.

This is why I suggested calling is a routine instead of a schedule. In my twenty years of homeschooling, I have learned that nothing is more discouraging than having a homeschooling schedule (wake up at 7, breakfast at 8, clean up at 8:30) that can be thrown off because Susie didn’t wake up until 7:43 and breakfast didn’t happen until 8:17. Being that rigid gives too many opportunities to get off track. A routine, on the other hand, is a set of tasks that we do sequentially.

Use a copy of the Daily Routines worksheet to brainstorm what you want to do during the day. I included one with sample notes and a blank one for you to customize. This works well for one-hour time blocks. You can divide it more if you need smaller time blocks.

You can print another copy and add them in the order you plan to do them. If certain activities have set times (on online class, for instance) fill those in first. Are you feeling more in control? I know I am.

This Instant Pot beef barley stew recipe starts wtih all fresh ingredients.

Plan Your Meals

We all know life is harder when there is no dinner place in place. Head that off now and plan your meals. And, since the kids will be home, plan your breakfasts and dinners as well. You will find meal planning pages in the

Homeschooling Hack 4: What to do All Day

Okay, here it is…the nitty-gritty of what exactly to do with those kids all day long…Buckle up, this is going to be fun!

Learn to Bake Bread- With Your Kids

Hezekiah and Tucker make pizza for chemistry and history class. Homeschooling high school.

If you are staying home with your kids, take the time to learn to bake bread, from scratch. This is a skill that kept our ancestors alive. Pick a simple recipe and work your way through it step by step. I can honestly say Hezekiah and Tucker have become amazing bread bakers this year thanks to the book Culinary Reactions. They both bake bread from scratch on a regular basis.

This roll recipe is really easy. I made it earlier this week and my kids were raving about it. This would be a great first bread recipe to try out.

Combine a little baking and history by trying out some of these WWII Ration Recipes. You also may want to check out Wartime Recipes

Use this time of social distancing to train your kids to take care of the house.

Teach Your Kids to Do Chores and Do Them Well

If you are now at home with your kids due to school cancellation what a great opportunity to teach them some very real-life skills. Teach them to clean the kitchen, the bathroom, to do laundry and cook entire meals. I have made these free printables to help you.

Brothers at Hidden Valley Camp in Granite Falls, WA.

Explore the World Together: Go for Walks

You don’t want your time at home to be all work and chores. If you are healthy, explore the world together. Here in Washington libraries, the Zoo and many other public places have been shut down and for good reason. But going on nature walks, or a walk (even if you live in the city) is good for everyone. Being out in the open fresh air is not considered risky.

Keeping a nature journal will help your children reflect on what they are learning.

Download this nature journal to help record your observations. Boom, science and PE done.

Sunday afternoon Pandemic. I hope you aren't counting on these guys to save the world.

Turn Off the TV and Video Games

I know you and your kids might die. It doesn’t have to be forever, but I suggest setting limits that fit into your new routine. No screens until after lunch, or chores, or even have a blackout day with no screens. Yes, it will be hard at first, but I bet everyone will end up growing from the experience.

Recovering from a a staph infection picked up after surgery on his g-tube site. Homeschooling hacks: practice times of no screentime.

Free Online School Resources

Literacy and Language Arts

ABC Mouse 30 day free trial. Learning activities for Preschoolers.

Gutenberg Online books


Chemistry for Life Elementary and Middle School Chemistry

Hour of Code– This site enables your kids to teach themselves code.

NASA Tons of free STEM content

Mathigon the Textbook of the Future- Amazing math lessons and videos.

General Education

Ted-Ed Video lessens for parents and students on a huge range of topics.

Wide-Open School – Classes on pretty much everything for every age.

Khan Academy Free classes

Edsitement: Lesson Plans and Student Activities

Teachers Pay Teachers Thousands of worksheets and topics, many of them free. My store is Little Earthling Explorations.

The Arts

YouTube has amazing how to draw videos. Our favorite is Art for Kids Hub.

Check out the San Diego Zoo Cams for a virtual trip to the zoo.

Visit a museum online.

Life Skills

Financial Literacy for Kids

Set up a business and learn about finances and growth with Sim Companies.

Making math fun through book-inspired. hands-on STEM projects. What's Your Angle Pythagoras? Homeschooling Hacks: Use unit studies.

Free Unit Studies

How to Create a Quick and Easy Unit Study Your Kids Will Love

Warlord’s Beads: STEM Activity with Free Printables– learn about place value.

The Warlord’s Alarm

The Warlord’s Fish– kids will get to make their own working compass!

Pythagorean Proof for Kids– show kids the why behind the math before you teach the how.

PNW Alphabet Books and Activities for Kids

Teachable Moments: Are They Overrated?

FREE Printables to go along with Rover Throws a Party

Free Printables Homeschooling Printables

Check out my Teachers Pay Teachers store. I have tons of free content available. You can search Teachers Pay Teachers for free content, but also consider buying some content as well to support other families.

Okay, friends, I hope this helped. Please leave any questions or feedback you have in the comments. Remember, we are all in this together.

More Distance Learning Printables

How to Make Basic Meals from Pantry Staples

6 Weeks 1 Planet: The Hub for Life Skills and Resources to get through this pandemic together.

Homeschooling Today: Myth vs. Reality

1 Comment

  1. sonja snowflake

    All around us people are literally panicking, not because of Covid, but because they will have their kids at home for a month at least…
    Homeschooling is pretty uncommon in Austria and most people have their kids out of the house for at least half a day from 18-24 months old, because they have to go back to work;
    We intended to homeschool (or unschool) our kids – but they had different plans, so they both attend a kindergarten which offers a variety of options, with lots of Montessori materials available as well as just letting the kids play on their own and learning whatever they need at the moment, so they can develop their interests naturally and aren’t forced to learn anything that just isn’t right for them at the moment; plus they spend tons of time outside in the big garden and the surrounding woods…
    so – this is pretty much, what we are doing right now – the kids are at home and I couldn’t be more thrilled – I love having them around and we just go with the flow right now…
    we have curfew right now except for buying groceries, medical treatment and essential work – so we enjoy life at home, in our (fortunately big enough) garden & woods and just take whatever comes right now – those kids sure are full of wonderful ideas for activities and all I have to do is to check every now and then so they don’t end up leaving a mess everywhere 😉

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