Tips from Homeschooling Parents

In the coming weeks, many parents will find themselves directly supervising, supporting, and facilitating their children’s learning in the home for the first time. We are praying for all of those in our country and in the world who are suffering due to the impacts of the coronavirus, and we here at Kolbe Academy would like to help.

Kolbe Academy has been supporting parents who choose to be the primary educators of their children for over thirty years. Yeah, we know. We’ve seen the memes. As The Babylon Bee satirically “reported” on March 10: “Homeschoolers To Continue Quarantining Themselves From Everything Like Always.” We got a good laugh from that one, and in a time like this, a good laugh is needed! But on a serious note, who better to learn from than the true experts: the parents who somehow manage to educate their children at home, while making meals, running businesses, taking care of babies, and yes, sometimes making crafts out of cardboard toilet paper rolls.

We asked our community of homeschooling parents (which includes most of our teachers, administrators, and staff), how they manage to educate their children at home. Here are some tips we’ve compiled for parents, from parents. We hope they ease the hardship for families in a difficult time, and maybe even spark some joy in learning!

From our Math Department Chair, Mrs. Powers:

As a mom of a second grader, here is what I would recommend:

  1. READ! Read as much as possible, and trust me the rest will fall into place.
  2. Hopefully parents have an idea of what math concepts are currently being taught. I would encourage them to make it a mixture of worksheets and fun. For example, adding numbers can be done through playing a lot of board games where you have to add up your score. Khan Academy also offers math courses with placement tests, so your child can practice math starting at his or her current level.
  3. I like to have my son draw a picture and then write about what he sees, means by, etc., the picture. Opinion writings are also so important in first grade. We did a lot of those last year.
  4. Science and Social Studies are nice additions in the second grade, but not huge. So I would take guidance from the school about these, but focus on the top three.

From Mrs. Hayes, a teacher in our English department:

I recommend the “Moffatt Girls” on TeachersPayTeachers. It offers monthly No Prep packets that practice math and reading skills for K-3rd grade. They are cute and super easy. You just need some dot markers, crayons, pencils, scissors and glue. That would be my suggestion for someone who is just trying to keep up with regular schooling and then going back to public school. I would also recommend reading lots of picture books, getting some from the library.

Need a recommended reading list by grade level? Click here for Kolbe’s free online resource of over 5,000 titles, just one of the fruits of our decades of experience.

From Mrs. O’Connor in our English and Literature department:

For the young ones, reading aloud, journaling, documentaries, especially Planet Earth. TPT and Pinterest have great printable activities. Low key is the way to be! Play UNO! Also, check out for a list of companies offering free subscriptions for newly at home students.

And Kolbe is pleased to be able to provide selected literature course plans for grades 3-12 for free download from our site. Please feel free to share with anyone you know who may benefit from them. The books included are: Charlotte’s Web; The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe; The Hobbit; Secret Garden; Anne of Green Gables; Tom Sawyer; Pride and Prejudice; Robinson Crusoe. Click here.

And now for our Kolbe homeschooling parents!

Mrs. Erdman suggests taking virtual tours of museum exhibits. Find some here:

Mrs. Rauch writes:

  • has been a lot of fun for us to use at home for PE.
  • I create planner sheets for my kids on which I write down all of their assignments by subject for each day, using the course plans from Kolbe. (We’re fully enrolled in the Homeschool program). I plan out a quarter at a time, but a person could do it week-by-week, month-by-month. Then, they just go through and do their work, crossing things off as they go, working with me when they need me, working independently when they don’t, turning work in as they go along to “the turn in spot” on my desk. They can do the assignments in pretty much any order they want, depending on my availability, as long as they get them done each day.

Mrs. Piazza says:

I love the opportunity to share how pleasant and efficient homeschooling is with those who might be nervous with the coming changes.  My advice would be that homeschooling doesn’t need to feel like a traditional classroom setup at home.

If your child works best on their bed, the living room floor, or on the back deck, that’s okay! Let them have a snack while they work. It’s okay to be comfortable as long as your child is in a good state to work.

Organize your new daily routines so your time and you child’s time is spent efficiently and intentionally. Don’t underestimate the help that is available online. There are many free websites with complete lessons, such as Khan Academy, that many people still haven’t discovered.  Along those lines, there are many “how to homeschool” websites you can take advice from so as not to reinvent the wheel. Be open-minded. You may enjoy it more than you expect.  It might be the only time you get to try it out for yourself!

Finally, Mrs. Buergler, Theology teacher at Kolbe Academy Online, has written a Facebook post that has been shared 79 times since March 13! Here’s her wisdom that others are finding so valuable:

Hey y’all! So I know many of us are transitioning to various forms of online learning over the next several weeks.

As a work-from-home parent, and a veteran online educator, some friends have reached out to me so I thought I’d share some tips that we teach our students, but that have also worked for our family. ROUTINE and COMMUNICATION are key!!!

  1. Establish a routine. Kids are used to routines. Continue to wake up, get dressed, eat, and get started on school. Follow their routine from school: heavy learning in the morning, breaks, lunch, and additional learning in the afternoon. Don’t wait until 2 p.m. to get started on school work. It’s hard to transition to school after a morning of fun. And no one does their best work mid-day.

  1. Establish a learning space. While it seems fun and novel to do school from the couch, find and create a school space. Set up the computer, headsets, pencils, supplies, etc. in a designated school spot. Remove any distractions. Set them up for success!

  1. Establish boundaries and expectations. This is new for everyone so communication is key!! Parents can take turns working and leading the kids through their work, while the other parent is working on their own job. Set timers or other milestones for taking breaks. Set a clear snack and meal time.

  1. Read and respect the teacher’s assignments. There is nothing more frustrating as an online teacher than students who don’t read the assignment. Double check your work. Stay on top of your emails and deadlines. The more we all do our part the easier it is on everyone.

  1. Take breaks and have unstructured time. Just like at school, kids need a recess, PE, chatty lunch time. Build that into your routine. Make sure there’s time for the kids to have free play WITHOUT you guiding them. Use this time to crank through some work yourself or have some alone time.

I’d love to hear tips from other home school or hybrid families! Let’s set our kids up do make the most of this experience.

We wish you all the best in your “homeschooling” or distance learning journey! If you find you like it, you might want to check out Kolbe Academy’s course offerings for summer and fall. We offer a Catholic, classical education that is flexible, with a combination of homeschooling course plans, online self-paced courses, and online courses. Give us a call! Our Advisors would love to help you take the next step!

Given that most of us are online educators and work online, we’ll leave you with this “clip” that is considered a beloved classic at Kolbe Academy Online. Remember, sometimes when you combine work and kids at home, you just have to keep calm and carry on!

Blog Post written by:

Ellen Finnigan et al.

Ellen Finnigan et al.