Homeschooling: A Guide to Sanity

Editor’s note: Mamas, we first published the following post back in March when schools in Northwest Arkansas shut down and we all tried to figure out how to help our kids do school at home. That’s when we asked our friend and local homeschooling mama, Jen Adair, to give us some tips on how to do it because she has been doing it for years.

About a week from now, some kids in Northwest Arkansas will go back to school full-time, some will do a few days a week at school and the rest of the week at home, and some kids will do remote learning only. (If an outbreak occurs at school, it’s likely that we will all be doing remote learning once again.) With that in mind, we thought this would be a good time to share Jen’s post again, which has some excellent advice for how to make sure your kids learn at home — without driving yourself or the kids nuts.

By Jen Adair, Blogger at Slightly Tilted, Entreprenuer, Homeschool Mom to two fab kiddos

Hey, mamas. It’s Jen, your friendly, slightly crazy, homeschool mom next door. Now listen…I know that you did not choose to be a homeschool mom, and your kids did not choose you to be their teacher. If we all had a choice, life would be humming along like normal.

But. None of us have a choice right now. It is what it is and all that.

So. Let’s begin.

First and foremost, relax.

Your day will not be perfect or even close, so go ahead and forget that right now. There will probably be tears. I cry almost every day and I’ve been doing this for 10 years. Give yourself a break. Give your kids a break. It’s going to be just fine.

It takes a while to relearn what you’re teaching. It takes a while to understand your child’s learning style. It takes a while to get in the groove. IT TAKES A WHILE. Don’t give up. Be patient with yourself. Be patient with your kids.

Find a schedule that works for you and your kids.

I usually don’t get my son up until about 9. He does better if he sleeps a little later. Plus, when life was normal, I would take my daughter to the high school two days a week, and it doesn’t start until 8:45. I could get some things done when he slept in. It was a win-win.

If your kids don’t get settled and ready to learn until about 10a.m., that’s okay. Set the schedule that works for you and your kids. Maybe try to schedule most of your work calls in the morning and do school in the afternoon – or vice versa. Or do one subject, take a break, and then tackle something else. Make it work for your family. Talk to your child’s teacher and let them know your schedule. Most of them will understand, I promise.

If you’re worried about how a different schedule will affect them once school starts back, talk with them and their teachers. Make a plan. But…for the short term, make it easy on yourself and the kids. You are the ones having to live this right now. Make adjustments – without guilt – accordingly.

Find different resources that teach that same subject.

If your child is having difficulty with a subject, present it in a new way. There are a ton of board games and online games that can make it fun. As an example, my kids learned a ton of math playing Monopoly and a lot of spelling playing Scrabble.

If they aren’t getting a concept that their teacher has assigned them, it’s perfectly fine to go off-script and do what’s best for your child. You are their advocate, remember. Help them learn in a way that they can understand. That’s what a parent does, right?

Talk to other parents. 

We may be social distancing, but parents can still talk. Talk all the time to each other and the teachers. Are your children understanding what is happening in their classes? Do the kids need to discuss it together? Is the amount of work appropriate? How can you help explain the subject in a different way? Does the teacher have more resources?

Ask the questions.
Get the answers.
Don’t sit home and wonder if you’re doing it right or wonder how to help your child. Just ask.

Take breaks.

Kids were not made to sit still and write sentences all day long. Take a lot of breaks. Have them hop down the hall on one leg or play a short game of hide and seek. Maybe do 20 jumping jacks? Anything to get them up and moving is a good thing! Take a walk around the block or run a race outside. It will boost their confidence and take their mind off of whatever it is that they aren’t wanting to do.

Quiet time is also good. Just laying down or listening to music or reading. This is just as beneficial. (And also recommended for the parents!)

Be careful with your words.

Please do not make your child feel dumb because they don’t understand a subject. It may take a while for things to click. Or they may never get it. Or…it may be you and the way you’re teaching it. Like the first rule – relax.

The things you say can’t be taken back. Just move on and figure out a different way to approach things on your own time. Do NOT take it out on your child. They are trying and only want to please you. Be kind and understanding.

If you feel yourself getting frustrated, take a break. Nothing wrong with that. I’ve taken a whole week off from algebra because I just couldn’t do it without getting upset. Now, it’s okay. I figured out a different way to approach it.

Again, relax. Breathe.

Your child feeds off of your vibe. If you are stressed or upset, they will be that way. This is not forever. School will (hopefully soon) be back to normal. You are not going to screw up. Your child will not automatically forget everything they ever knew. It’ll be okay. All of us are in this together.

Take a deep breath.


And try to remember how to diagram a sentence.


Hey. I’m Jen Adair. I’m an entrepreneur. Homeschool mom. CEO of organized chaos. Ok – it’s really not all that organized. Browse my collection of random thoughts, humor (well, I think I’m funny!), images, links, whatever…at my blog Slightly Tilted