Heather Creekmore: Coronavirus introduces millions of families to homeschooling – Here is how to make it work

Get all the latest news on coronavirus and more delivered daily to your inbox. Sign up here.

As families self-quarantine and thousands of traditional schools have closed their doors due to the coronavirus pandemic, many parents are embarking on a journey they never wanted to take: homeschooling.

The thought of homeschooling may overwhelm you, especially if you’re also trying to work from home. But let me offer some encouragement. It can be done. The truth is that you may even enjoy it.

This spring I’ll finish my seventh year of homeschooling four children, now ages 8 to 13. I also work 20-plus hours a week from home writing, podcasting and doing marketing consulting.

15,000 LA HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS ABSENT FROM ONLINE LEARNING SINCE CORONAVIRUS SHUT DOWN SCHOOLS

Homeschooling has given me the flexibility to write two books and has given my children the opportunity to pursue their interests, learn in a flexible environment, and acquire practical skills ranging from time management to cooking!

Here are some of the most helpful things I've learned.

Chill out

Homeschool doesn’t have to look anything like regular school. Don't try to make your children sit still all day or work for long stretches without breaks.

Take advantage of the opportunity to let your kids relax. Let them learn multiplication tables by lying on the floor. Let them read on a swing in the backyard.

CLICK HERE TO SIGN UP FOR OUR OPINION NEWSLETTER

If you feel frustration rising in both you and your children, take a break. Send them outside to run laps or ride their bikes, while you grab another cup of coffee and get something done until they're ready to work again.

Remember that you're not the teacher of a class of 35. You're the parent-teacher. Parent-teachers have special privileges. Use what you know about your children to make school work for you.

More from Opinion

Work on your time

If you have a job that's depending on you to work from home, remember that unless your child is taking live online classes, homeschooling doesn't have to match the timeframe of public school. You’ll likely get everything done a lot faster.

At school, a lot of time is spent transitioning between classes, taking "brain breaks," or waiting for other kids to finish the assignment given to the class. You may have a Type A firstborn who will sit and get all the work done in 90 minutes in the morning. Or you may have a middle child who'd rather do a little work, play Legos for 30 minutes, and come back and do a little more.

Just like adults, your child may be extremely productive and work ahead some days. Others, it may be difficult to get through one subject without frustration. You have the flexibility to adjust on a daily basis, so embrace the freedom.

Unless your children are following along with an online class, take advantage of the opportunity to let them gently learn on the schedule that works best for them.

Limit screen time

I've found that homeschool goes best if limits on screens are tight during our school week. Even a few hours of video games in the afternoon or evening can make the next day harder than it has to be.

Though your children will complain and express fears of dying of boredom (and though you’ll fear never getting anything done because of their ridiculous insistence), my best advice is to set up a system where video games aren’t a part of the daily equation.

Your home will remain more peaceful if your children are encouraged to do other screen-free things during the day. You may be amazed at what they come up with after the shock and awe of no video games dissipates.

Offer an hour of (timed) video games after dinner for good attitudes, if you need an incentive. But trust me, life is easier during the week without them.

Learn about and with your children

Life is busy and it was difficult for me to pay too much attention to everything my children were learning when they were in public school. But with them at home, I've had an incredible opportunity to learn beside them and about them.

Now I know what subjects they are most interested in and best at. I know what topics interest them so much that we need to find other resources to supplement what they're learning.

YouTube isn't all DIY plumbing and make-up tutorials. You'd be amazed at the helpful and kid-friendly videos you'll find on everything from wars to learning division.

For older children, try Khan Academy for classes in just about every subject. Amazon Prime and Netflix can be a treasure trove of documentaries on everything from geography to science. Plus, many online learning programs are offering free memberships during the coronavirus quarantine. Watch together and supplement what both of you are learning.

Keep first things first

We working parents may struggle with trying to keep a remotely located boss happy amidst running our child’s school day. My best advice is to start your day with prayer and then set your own priorities and schedule around what you know will work well for both you and your children.

My typical schedule is to work with my children from around 8:30 to 11 a.m. This is plenty of time for my third and fourth graders to complete all of their work. If my middle-school children need help later in the day we schedule it, making an appointment for them to meet with me.

As I record podcasts, meet writing deadlines and do other work, my children have learned to work on their own or play quietly (without screens). Children can be taught to give you some space and be respectful of your time as well. But this lesson is learned easier if you're first willing to designate time that is just for them.

Have fun

This may be my "Enneagram 7" coming out, but the truth is: I really love homeschooling. I enjoy hanging out with my kids each day. We have fun. We take bike rides to the park or to Dunkin’ Donuts.

They spend time teaching themselves to draw or creating obstacle courses in our backyard. This quarantine may be your chance to just have fun together as a family. A lot of learning can happen when playing Monopoly or building a Lego model of something they learned about.

Talk to your children. They have things to say and want you to stop and listen. Ask them questions. Encourage them to try new things like drawing from a tutorial or banging on the keys of the dusty piano in the hall (gently, and not when mom is on a conference call).

CLICK HERE TO GET THE FOX NEWS APP

Teach them out to clean, how to do laundry, what the difference between Windex and counter cleaner is and why they should never use the latter on your bathroom mirror. Play in the yard. Write a letter to an older person who can’t leave home until the coronavirus subsides.

This time is yours. This virus may be cramping your regular style, but why not make something absolutely beautiful out of it?

CLICK HERE TO READ MORE FROM HEATHER CREEKMORE