Homeschooling Unexpectedly Due to COVID-19

Many families are finding themselves in what feels like a no-win situation. With the uncertainty created by COVID-19, heading back to school does not seem like the best option for creating a stable, effective learning situation. On-line school might work for some, but leaves other parents concerned about too much screen time and not enough interaction, especially for active learners. Homeschooling feels like the only option, but seems overwhelming and is definitely unfamiliar territory. That’s the empty half of the glass. Let me offer you some encouragement by shedding light on the other half of the glass – the half that is full of opportunity! Homeschooling may only be a brief interlude in your family’s educational story (or maybe you’ll love it so much you’ll decide to stay!), but you may find that it turns out to be an incredible gift. Just as many families have found that staying home due to COVID-19 has given them the chance to slow down and reconnect, homeschooling provides time for family members to really get to know one another and to enjoy sharing ideas and pursuing interests together. Let’s look at some ways to make the most of unexpected homeschooling.Keep in mind as you begin…The sudden transition to home learning last year is not what a planned year of homeschooling will feel like.  Stress was at an all-time high as support systems fell out from under us and schools imposed unrealistic and confusing requirements at home.  It was a mess.  While you may have some chaotic days at home during a regular year of homeschool (there are always crazy times with family, right?), your regular rhythm will be one that fits your family and adapts to the changing needs of parents and children through the year.  Sending notification to homeschool removes the outside stresses and requirements and opens up your days to pursue learning that will benefit your children.You can choose to homeschool in ways that fit your family.  It doesn’t have to be like regular school.  It doesn’t have to be like so-and-so’s family that has been homeschooling for eight years.  It can involve textbooks or library books, planned curriculum or spontaneous investigation, outdoor exploration or computer classes, games or workbooks, audio books or sidewalk chalk…learning can happen in almost any place and any way, so use this as an opportunity to try things and see how your children learn.If you plan to send your children back to school when things calm down, you can access the same standards that teachers use to guide their instruction.  In younger grades, these standards will tell you which math concepts to explore together and what reading and writing skills to develop.  In older grades, the standards will also tell you which science and social studies topics to investigate.  Then, you can find curriculums or library books and on-line videos that will help teach those subjects.  If your child is in elementary school, you can use language arts techniques and ideas found at, and those of you with kindergarten or first grade students are really in luck – our How to Teach Math videos will show you how to introduce all of the concepts your children need to learn!  Other grades are coming soon.This year of homeschooling isn’t going to be perfect for any of us.  Most homeschooling families spend a lot of time gathering with others, whether through a formal co-op or just meeting to play or learn together.  We go on field trips and attend classes at the park, zoo, art studios, etc.  We attend musical and theatrical performances.  All of that is on hold right now.  So just keep in mind that we’re all adapting and this year will provide only a very limited version of what homeschooling offers.During my first year of teaching, I broke down in my principal’s office, worried that I wasn’t going to be able to provide the amazing learning experience for my students that I wanted them to have and that their educations would suffer (yep, professional teachers have trouble doing it all, too).  She looked at me and said, “What do you think is going to happen?  One year won’t ruin them!”  She knew that I was doing my best, caring about the students and demonstrating an enthusiasm in my classroom that inspired a love of learning, and that if they missed a few things that year the students’ resiliency would make up for it over time and they would still absolutely be able to succeed in life.  It’s important that we as educators (yes, you’re an educator if you’re homeschooling – in fact, all parents are educators) keep in mind that each year, each day, each lesson is part of a lifelong journey of learning.  Even if your child does not receive top-notch instruction in every single subject this year, can you think of some other very valuable outcomes this year could have?  Perhaps the chance to become closer as a family, to know that learning is important and relevant, to indulge curiosities and learn deeply about certain topics,…Try not to put too much pressure on yourself as a first year teacher and instead watch for amazing blessings that would have been missed at school.You may find…That your family needs some time to make the adjustment and a slow-start to your schedule may be of great benefit.That as your family gets to know one another better and spends more time together, understanding grows and conflicts decrease (notice I didn’t say disappear). That your children (and you) find renewed joy in learning and discovery.That you discover particular needs and strengths of your children of which you were previously unaware.That you try different approaches throughout the year, some that work and some that don’t.That parenting is a lot of work and when you’re not sending them out the door every morning, there is more demand but also more time to work through issues and develop cooperation.Remember…That God works for good in all things.  He can make something great out of whatever you do this year.  Just do your best!This too shall pass.  COVID-19 will not last forever, schools will re-open, and you will be looking back on this year, reflecting on the good and the bad, and deciding your family’s future.  Homeschooling may be a special memory to take with you back into the life you knew, or it may be a new lifestyle you embrace as you move forward.  Either way, your kids will do great.Try to relax and enjoy this year of homeschooling.  We’d love to see you in our membership community! 

How it began…

A couple years ago, we were standing in the kitchen talking about how we wished there were more opportunities for the kids to share their work with peers. We had seen how much they enjoyed sharing their writings, drawings, presentations, and marble roller coasters with our co-op (we had started our own that year). It just wasn’t practical for us to meet with people in person more often, though. Wouldn’t it be nice, we thought, if there was a safe space on-line for our kids to post their work and see the work of other homeschooling peers?At the same time, we began to notice that choosing a career and mapping a route to get there is a challenging process that most people don’t have the time or resources to figure out how to do well. So many of our friends, then in their thirties, were mentioning that they weren’t really content in their jobs. We just kept hearing “I wish I had known…” There were aspects of their jobs they enjoyed, but so much about the day-to-day reality of what they did that they hadn’t known before making a career choice. We also began hearing from friends who were parents of high school students and recent graduates about their teens’ struggle to choose a college major. Some couldn’t find direction and were in limbo after graduation, trying to figure it out. Others headed confidently off to college and then came back home when they realized that the major they thought was a perfect fit…wasn’t. At least they didn’t continue accumulating debt from classes, room & board, and books while they took time to figure it out. Their parents were definitely experiencing some anxiety as the clock kept ticking and their teen floundered without direction, while they felt confused about how to help them and didn’t really have time to figure it all out. Wouldn’t it be great, we thought, if there was something to help teens figure out which jobs would be a good fit for them and how to enter those fields – before they picked a major and went to college?During our time as homeschoolers, we also had noticed that a lot of people wondered how homeschooling works, how to start homeschooling, and how to homeschool in a way that would be a better fit for their families. Over and over, Jill heard, “Wow, it must be so nice for you. Since you’re a teacher, you know how to teach your kids. I feel like we have to buy a curriculum so we know what to teach.” These families were buying expensive curriculums, then finding they didn’t work for them and buying another, and wishing they could have more freedom and find a way to homeschool that would inspire curiosity. They needed the confidence to leave behind the anxiety that came from doing all the workbook pages they had purchased and completing all the lessons someone else had decided should be covered; they wanted to know how to homeschool without the battles while still being certain their kids were learning enough and would be ready for high school, college, and life. Wouldn’t it be wonderful, we thought, if there was a way we could show them how to teach and help them know what to teach so they could enjoy learning with their kids and feel confident that they know how to homeschool well in a way that fits their families?We also found ourselves being asked about our parenting methods. “How do you get your kids to listen so well?” “Your kids sure are nice to be around. How did you do it?” We’d hear other parents yelling and see their frustration and embarrassment. Now, let me be clear: our kids are not perfect and we don’t parent perfectly and all families face different challenges and some are tougher than others. We would never assume that our methods are better than yours or that our kids are better. However, we have had some great support, we know about some helpful resources, and we’ve seen the look of desperation in the eyes of parents who are trying to figure it all out themselves. Wouldn’t it be a relief, we thought, if those parents could get some support and knowledge regarding parenting practices that use love and wisdom to create peace and joy in the home, especially when homeschooling makes it all more intense?Eventually, a vision began to come together of how all of these things could be accomplished in one place for homeschooling families. Instead of wishing for it, we decided to create it. At the time, we didn’t realize how much work it would be and how long it would take, but we are so excited by what it has become.COVID-19 has only increased the urgency of what we’re doing. So many families are jumping into homeschooling in order to provide stability and safety for their children, and they really need support. We are working hard to prepare information on how to homeschool – how to prepare for homeschooling, how to get started with homeschooling, how to teach reading, how to teach kindergarten and first grade math (with more to come!), and how to tackle parenting challenges that come with homeschooling. We’re creating content to show families how to homeschool in their own way while incorporating standards that will help their children be ready to go back to school if that becomes the best option in the future.We are thankful for the opportunity to create this site and offer support and community to homeschooling families. We are passionate about families and life-long learning, and this gives us a chance to encourage others who share those values.Welcome to our site!