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Your public or private school is closed. The kids are home. Now what?

It’s an unprecedented time—not just here in the U.S., but across the globe—as COVID-19 (also known as coronavirus) sweeps the world. As more and more nations close borders, ban large gatherings, and even initiate country-wide lockdowns, over 300 million families with school-age students worldwide are discovering another challenge: Public and private schools are closing down, making all of us de facto homeschoolers almost overnight.

Right now, the school closures are only temporary—in North Carolina, for example, public schools are on hiatus for two weeks. But other regions are taking even more aggressive steps: In New York City, schools will be closed at least until April 20. But that doesn’t mean the closures won’t be extended if the situation worsens significantly.

In light of all the new homeschoolers out there, we wanted to put together some quick tips for those new to the concept to help with education at home. Here we go!

1. Hold a family meeting

It’s easy for kids to get scared in times like these. And in addition to the fear of the virus itself, kids will be confused by the disruption in their typical daily schedule. So to begin, it’s a great idea to convene a family meeting and explain to your kids what’s next, including what school will look like for the foreseeable future.

You don’t have to have all the answers. Just communicate openly with your kids about the situation and your family’s response to it.

2. Make a routine

Your kids have been used to a school routine for years, so creating a new one is essential to curb the chaos. Try to keep it as close to their previous routine as possible:

  • Have breakfast, lunch, snacks, and dinner at the same times as before each day.
  • Work in a “recess” break at the same time each day.
  • Try to batch school activities into chunks of time as schools do.

In many cases, public schools are sending assignments home with students through online learning, so this will provide some degree of structure as well.

Here is a great example of a COVID-19 daily schedule:

3. Reserve an area in your home for schoolwork

Designate a part of your home as a classroom. Using your kitchen table is fine—a lot of existing homeschool families do that. But if you have the space, marking out stronger boundaries for schoolwork is a good idea—for example, in a bonus room or home office.

4. Help students focus

Without a doubt, it’s going to be challenging for students accustomed to a traditional classroom atmosphere to focus at home. And getting the kids to try to focus could result in a lot of parents pulling their hair out. Here are some ideas to cut out distractions and help kids focus:

  • Turn off the TV and take away smartphones during study time.
  • Make your kids part of the process by giving them some leeway in determining what they learn.
  • Work in breaks during the school day.

5. The internet can help

Even before this era of mass quarantines, online learning was the wave of the future. Thankfully in this crisis, the internet opens a treasure trove of educational options for families who now need alternatives to the traditional public schools. Options include:

6. Get outside and move

Even though you’re now homeschooling, recess should still happen! Get your kids outside for exercise and a little bit of sunshine.

7. Accept that things won’t be perfect

If you’re on social media, you’ll no doubt come across a steady stream of memes and videos expressing the exasperated sentiment of many parents in having to be stuck at home with their kids. Give yourself plenty of grace as you face the challenge!

Your child or teen isn’t accustomed to having you as a teacher, so discipline issues will probably crop up. Education-at-home won’t be a cinch. Accept that it will be a difficult road and the journey will be much easier overall.