How To Homeschool And Work From Home
AKA Resources To Survive School Lockdown
*UPDATED March 2020
If you have arrived here because you and your kids are on lockdown, welcome! I wish we were ‘meeting’ under better circumstances.
About me, I not only homeschool but work from home by helping other moms set up their businesses so that they can work around their family, rather than trying to fit the family around their work.
I totally get how difficult this might be but it’s not all doom and gloom, you can read this post if you need a pick me up!
This is a bit of a monster post now! I have listed:
- All the resources we use for homeschooling, all tried and tested, some free some are paid.
- Montessori Resources for those interested.
- Plus a huge list of places that are offering access for free whilst the world is in crisis.
Before we get into all that…
If you have never homeschooled before, it takes some adjustment, this is what I recommend. Some members in my Facebook group have been on lockdown since the beginning of March and they are reporting back that following these steps has really helped.
The kids are used to a routine in school and I feel it’s perfectly acceptable to tell them that the school says they have to follow the rules 😉
1. When are the kids most full of beans? When you write your plan, schedule their energetic time for PE, DON’T schedule study time, it won’t work if they are bouncing off the walls! Links below for online exercise classes for kids.
2. Housework. Schedule this in too and get them to help. Include a tidy up at the end of the day. Schedule 15-30 minutes per day, it won’t take long if everyone pitches in.
3. Do they have schoolwork to do or are you having to find work for them? Whichever, schedule work (study) time. If their lessons are usually 45mins then schedule for that then a break. Remember that at school there is a lot of faffing around, you can get through a full day worth of lessons in about 2-3 hours (shocking but true!)
Work time is for them to get their heads down and for you to get work done too. When the timer goes off after 45mins, all take a break.
Do something fun, put some music on, mess around.
4. Get them helping in the kitchen too. Setting the table, washing veg etc. Cooking is a life skill and something they should learn.
5. Schedule in free time too, let them do their own thing and you get on with your work. Turn off the devices, LET THEM GET BORED, seriously, boredom is scientifically proven to boost creative thinking. Kids do not need to be entertained 24/7.
6. Let them connect with their friends. Kids usually spend 6-8 hours a day with their mates, suddenly being locked in a box with just their family is a HUGE adjustment. Use the online tools to allow them time to chat with their friends, play online games, goof around.
7. Remember that usually when people decide to homeschool, it is done over a period of time and both parents and kids ease into the situation. This is not the case here, you are not expected to be the perfect homeschooler (if that is even a thing). You are schooling from home, it’s a completely different thing! Teachers are overwhelmed too, you don’t have to do the worksheets, do what works for your family.
8. Make Memories! Make this a time that the kids will remember as a good time, the hanging out with family, being creative, having fun.
9. Have A Plan. At the weekend sit everyone down and plan out the schedule, let them have a say and be part of the process. Draw it out and stick it up on the fridge, if the schedule is likely to change each day because of your work, then hold a breakfast meeting and set out the plan for the day.
10, Check In. At the end of each day, say at dinner time. Ask everyone “how do you think we did today?” “What can we do better tomorrow?”
It takes time to find your rhythm but if you all work together is should fall into place.
Explaining The Situation To The Kids
Kids need to know what is happening so that they understand why they can’t go on playdates and hang out with their friends. This video is the best that I have come across which explains everything in a kid-friendly way.
This is a great time to give the kids some responsibility for their learning.
Let them decide what to study first – they WILL pick their favourite subject and try and avoid the ones they don’t like.
THIS is a great teaching moment that as kids we rarely get.
So when it comes to their least favourite they are going to resist and make a fuss. Time for a chat, tell them about this great method you know about. It’s famous!! Even books are written about it!! (You could even google and name drop famous people’s name that uses it if that’s the sort of thing that impressed them)
This is where you introduce “eat the frog”
Tell them if they HAVE to eat 2 frogs first thing in the morning, (obviously, they don’t want to eat a frog) they should eat the biggest first.
This means they should get the worst out of the way first.
Once you get the worst out of the way, get your head down and do it quickly then you can enjoy the rest of the day.
The 2nd frog could be a chocolate one so it feels like a treat after tackling the big one.
To help it stick, we always use the motto…
“Do the worst, first”
And this isn’t just for kids, it’s something adults can use too! We embrace the frog-eating method as part of the Hit List over in The Wonder Mom Success Club.
Our Homeschool Journey
***This is part of the original post, back when we started our homeschool journey***
This is quite a new journey for us as full-time homeschoolers. Although I have been working from home since 2005 and juggling that with life as a mom at the same time and we have always done some kind of homeschooling as we are raising a bilingual and bicultural child too.
Today’s video I talk about our journey up to now and the decisions we made along the way. Why we didn’t choose homeschooling for elementary but did for junior high.
I also go into how we run our days so that everything goes to plan and we still get everything done.
As many of you know, I am a Montessorian and “Follow The Child” has been our family motto from the start, although we are not following the Montessori curriculum now, we are still following the child and using child-led learning, to an extent. I don’t think we fit into any particular box as far as homeschooling goes, we are doing what works for us.
Finally, I touch on how we organize our time so that Ebi-kun fits in his schoolwork and I manage to get all my work in too and the surprising outcome from having fewer hours in the day to work, and why I practice what I teach in The Wonder Mom Success Club
I’ll list all the resources we use below the video and if you have any questions, drop them in the comments.
Some of the following are affiliate links which means I get a small percentage of the sale if you decide to buy.
Homeschool Resources We Use
These are in no specific order, I’ll list Montessori specific resources below and some things for little ones.
Study Sapuri (Japanese school curriculum app) This is the Japanese school curriculum, the classes are taught by teachers and it is all self-paced. There are quick tests at the end of the classes.
This is a great resource if you are doing child-led education. They can have a search through and see what kind of lessons appeal. Ebi-kun has done forensic science and another on phobias.
The lessons are either to a set schedule, and you log into zoom at the required time, the teacher leads the class but sometimes, depending on the class, the kids get to ask questions etc. usually the class sizes are kept small. There are some self-paced classes too. Classes rated for ages 3-18 and you can filter the times, format and subjects to make it easier to find the right course for your kid. Each class has its own price.
If you are a teacher, you can sign up and create your own classes to sell!
Skillshare – This is a subscription, thousands of courses to choose from, probably better for slightly older kids, especially good for the arts, design etc plus how to sell your artistic work, there are class on how to create an illustration then get it out into the world as a product, for example. We have both done numerous classes on here. Sometimes alone, sometimes we do it together.
TEDed Lots of free creative lessons, some fun short animation type lessons – TIP, if you need to get some work done, let them binge-watch those! There is also a set of lessons on the periodic table by Nottingham University, they blow lots of stuff up and the professor is somewhat mad, we loved it!
Masterclass – This is suited more for older kids, we got the annual pass and did ALL the cooking courses (be warned the first Gordon Ramsey class is very sweary!), the Chriss Voss one was eye-opening, Sarah Blakley inspiring. You can sign up for just individual classes too.
Coursera – again for older kids, lots of university classes for free, 190+ universities and companies have classes on here. It is a brilliant way to put your toe in and try something out to see if it is the right subject for you. I would recommend it for kids trying to decide which direction to go in for uni. Try before you buy! You can pay for the certificate of completion too, we haven’t gone that route yet.
Duolingo – app for learning languages, Ebi-kun is on a 500+ day streak, it is gamified to the hilt! But they are also learning! Ebi-kun started with Spanish but switched to French as he thinks that will be better if he goes into the culinary world.
Zkai and Asteria – JAPANESE only. I’ll be honest and have no idea how this works, my husband set it up! zkai is using Lego Mindstorms and you need to have the Lego kit. They send a new pack each month which has 2 projects, each time they build on the things that were learned the previous lessons. Once the project is complete you have to submit the results by the 10th of the month.
Asteria they have monthly classes of 3 students and a moderator who leads a discussion on a topical subject. Ebi-kun really enjoys it, if you have more questions about it, drop me a line and I’ll get him to answer!
Khan Academy (free online platform, lots of materials available now)
A quick note about Khan Academy, it is set up slightly different than your regular teaching app but the difference is what makes it great! Instead of teaching the topic then quizzing the student, the student does the quiz and if they get stuck, then they can choose to get help. This gives a better baseline on what the child already knows and also picks up on when the child hits a sticking point and isn’t understanding something properly.
Parents and teachers can log in and from their side of the portal see how the student is doing, I love this way of teaching because it means the student isn’t getting bored going over something they already know and understand but it also catches if there is something missing in that level of understanding. The program doesn’t allow them to move ahead until they completely understand the level they are on. SO IMPORTANT for subjects like math. Miss something fundamental in math and it will trip you up for years as you get into higher education.
OK – not such a quick note!
You can watch Sal Khan’s ideas behind it all here
Montessori Resources & Activities
Coming from a Montessori background I’m a big fan of the ‘follow the child’ philosophy. Some of these are blogs, many of them have some great resources, check them out, some are shops so you can just go and grab what you need.
Backpack Sciences – subscription to a library of science lessons and monthly experiments designed for homeschoolers and teachers. If you are looking for something just to keep the kids out of mischief for a couple of weeks the check out this too.
Montessori Kiwi – lots of great Montessori materials (shop)
Welcome To Mommyhood (blog)
Every Star Is Different – Renae offers some great bundle deals (shop)
Little Spark Company – English, French and Spanish printables (shop)
Branch To Bloom (blog)
Montessori Living Now (blog)
Plenty Of Trays (blog)
One Tree Montessori (blog)
The Montessori Garden (shop)
This Toddler Life (challenge for Montessori at home with 0-3 year olds)
Montessori By Request (shop)
Keys Of The Universe (albums)
Other Resources – many of these are offering free/discount during the Corona crisis
This is a mixed bag, some are offering free service for a limited time, some are always free. Please check each site for details. A few may need the school to apply for access.
ABC Mouse – a curriculum for pre-school through second grade
Artful Parent – lots of arty based activities
Albert – American high school subjects
Alchemie – chemistry online learning
Big Dog Little Dog – Yoga for kids and parents to do together
Big History Project – looking at life as a whole, past, present and future
Blockly – computer programming for kids
Boardmaker – is a complete special education platform that supports education, communication, access and social/emotional needs
BrainPop – a range of subjects and ages
BreakoutEdu – educational online games
Cbeebies Radio – for the little ones
Century – English, maths and science
Circletime – fun interactive classes for 0-6-year-olds
Classroom Secrets – UK based year 1-6
Classroom Magazines (Scholastic) – PreK-12 Learn about Corona Virus
Conjugeoumos – language lessons
Crest Awards – science you can do at home
Curriki – always free, curriculum pre-school – highschool
David Walliams – Audio stories, new one released each day
DK FindOut – All kinds of things for young learners
Deep Space Sparkle – some great video tutorials with the lesson time
Dyslexia Academy – an online school for dyslexia support
Emile – UK national primary curriculum for maths and SPaG
Epic – digital book library
Flipgrid – this is for educators to create lessons and a fun environment to learn in
Futurelearn – lot’s of courses, better suited for older kids
Geography Games – fun games to learn about the world
Google Museum Views – go a virtual tour of museums and places of interest all over the world
Google Artist – hundreds of works of art from famous artists
Google historical events – archives of photos form hundreds of events (great for project research)
Google Street View Museums – 10 world-class museums you can explore virtually
Hippocampus – always free, 7000 videos, 13 subject areas
icompute – UK based computer and coding
idea.org – digital and employable skills, gain industry-recognised awards. (older ages)
Inthinking teacher resources – lots of subjects
Izzit – teachers guides, current event lessons, quizzes
Lala tigers – musical fun
Mangahigh – an ethos of collaboration, community and competition
Massimo Bottura – doing free live cooking classes (we did his Masterclass course, he is great)
Minecraft Education – get them learning as they are gaming
Music First – music lessons for K-12
Mystery Science – Get kids excited about science
National Geographic Kids – activities and resources for younger kids
OpenLearn – open university courses
Oxford Owl – primary/elementary age free resources
Paw Print Badges – free challenge packs and downloads (badges are a paid feature)
PBS learning – a lot of subjects PreK – Highschool
PE with Joe – Daily live workouts for kids
Prodigy – maths for 18 grade
Purple Mash – open-ended tools, spelling and grammar, maths…
Red Ted Art – Arta nd Crafts, great YouTube channel too
Rockalingua – Spanish lessons
Scholastic – opened their resources for free
Scratch – create stories, games and animations
Seneca – KS2, KS3, GCSE and A level
Sight Reading Factory – sight-reading and singing practice
Smart Music – music education
SpanishMama – 101 Spanish activities for kids on and offline
Storyline Online – storybooks read by famous people
The Kid Should See This – Lots of fun and educational videos
The Imagination Tree – lots of activities for the little ones
Tinkercad – for all kinds of making stuff
Toy Theatre – online games for younger kids
Twinkl – Huge library of resources 0-18
Typing Club – get them to learn touch typing, always free
Vroom – app with teachable moments tips
zearn – K-5 maths curriculum (click the arrow at the bottom for the adult page)
And this one…
Fiveable – free resource finder
For creating projects:
Africam – several live webcams set up in Africa, they have highlights vidoes for the impatient!
For audio books we love Scribd, not only do they have audio books, there are also digital books, magazines, research papers and sheet music. **With this link you get 60 days free**
When you log in and go to the “scribd perks” link in your profile there is also access to other apps, these change but as I write FarFaria is in there with free unlimited read-to-me story books for 1-9 year old and MUBI which is classic and cult movies.
Resources In Japanese
And if you are a mom looking start a business or you have one but you are struggling to get ALL-OF-THE-THINGS done, then come on over to The Wonder Mom Success Club
If you feel like you’ve been thrown in at the deep end with homeschooling, working from home and all the other madness going on. I have recorded a short webinar to help you through this…