How to Homeschool During the Coronavirus Pandemic

First, don't feel bad that you are not adequately prepared for this crisis—most of us aren't.

"What we are being asked to do is not humanly possible," says Emily W. King, Ph.D., in a PSA that she published on her Facebook page. "Working, parenting, and teaching are three different jobs that cannot be done at the same time. It’s not hard because you are doing it wrong. It’s hard because it’s too much. Do the best you can," she continues. This is a mentality that I am finding comfort in, as my own daughter embarks on her fourth week home from school—and our overly-ambitious schedule for homeschooling that we put together on day one has slowly fallen apart (much like me on a few occasions) and I am sitting here wondering if this will go down as the year that she didn’t finish fourth grade. 

All the experts agree that it is important for children to have a designated workspace. 

I am not alone. Across the world schools are closed, some through April (for now), and others for the foreseeable future—with the situation changing daily. Schools are offering different levels of support: Some school systems and private schools were immediately ready to launch into remote learning, while others are still working on putting systems into place. Either way, the sudden shift from sending your child off to school every morning to learning from home is a huge adjustment for both parents and students—and needless to say, it can be overwhelming. But as homeschooling is suddenly a part of our new normal, it's important to remember that we all are struggling to adjust to online instruction and trying to find ways to keep our children engaged.

It's a great time to let kids be a part of the decision-making, if that is age-appropriate, and help set a schedule. Give your child a chance to take the reins and engage in child-led learning. 

Jamie Heston, a veteran homeschooler, homeschool consultant, and a board member of the Homeschool Association of California, advises that you should be gentle with yourself, your child, your partner, and your coworkers. "We are in an unprecedented situation and everyone is under stress," Jamie says.  She also recommends designating some time to teach your children "real life" activities, like cooking, gardening, and sewing. "Ask your children what they’d like to learn," she says. "Self-directed learning is the best. What is your child passionate about? Learning doesn’t only happen with a book at a desk." And most importantly, always remember to be flexible: "It’s going to be messy, and that’s OK, this is 'crisis schooling', not planned, thought-out homeschooling."

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This is a wonderful time for children to pursue passion projects.

Don't forget to include recess and downtime in your schedule. Courtesy of Hey!Cheese

Have your children help you go through their book collections and pick out what books they haven't read yet. If you are able to safely leave your home, you can coordinate curbside dropoff book exchanges with friends.

Online art lessons are making it easy to prioritize art, which can be a great escape for kids stuck at home all day. 

Don't forget that toys are meant to teach children, as well as entertain them. They can easily be integrated into homeschool lessons. 

We started a list of resources to turn to for academic inspiration, art lessons, a little culture, and a few distractions. Have another favorite? Add it in the comments below.

Online Art Lessons 

Illustrator Wendy MacNaughton @wendymac teaches a 30-minute drawing lesson for all ages called "Drawing Together" on Instagram Live  M-F at 10 am PST. It stays in her IG stories for 24 hours. She recently announced that she will be putting all the lessons on YouTube, so anyone, anywhere can watch anytime. 

Illustrator and author Carson Ellis started a "Quarantine Art Club" that offers daily drawing prompts for all ages on her Instagram account @carsonellis 

The Kennedy Center’s Artist-in-Residence, Mo Willems (author/illustrator of the Knuffle Bunny series) does a delightful daily drawing sessions M-F at 1 pm EST. 

Movement Ideas

Cosmic Kids Yoga is also on YouTube and great for active screen time for younger children.


Storyline Online features professional actors reading popular picture books. 

Time Magazine for kids is now free for the rest of the school year. 

Podcasts and Audiobooks

Story Pirates is a podcast for kids that encourages creative writing.

Audible is offering a curated selection of titles for kids for free right now. 

Academic Resources

Brain Pop offers a bunch of educational activities with different topics such as science, social studies, and even engineering and tech. 

The Math Learning Center has free printable math lessons for preschoolers through fifth graders.

NASA has a variety science activities for K-12.

Outschool provides live online classes on a breadth of subjects for children ages three to 18.

Writing Prompts

Storybird is a site that offers short story creation for all ages with engaging prompts. 

Picture Prompts from the New York Times inspire writing via images.

Scholastic Books Story Starters are creative writing prompts for kids K-6.

Culture and Museums 

Google Arts & Culture is rich with varied cultural content that includes everything from facts about dinosaurs, to a trip to the Louvre. The subject matter could easily spark an art or writing assignment, or even an age-appropriate research project.

The Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation has teamed up with Paradise Valley School District to create a K-12 curriculum. Each of its six activities, released weekly, will build up to a final art project inspired by Wright’s stained glass designs.

Nature and Animals

Natural Geographic Kids offers science, animals, and more cool stuff. 

All About Birds from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology is where to go to work on your bird ID skills. 


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