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One Mom’s Approach to Hands-off Homeschooling

it doesn't have to be complicated

If you’re a working mom, who doesn’t usually work at home, this transition amidst coronavirus is probably a lot to handle—especially since the kids are at home too. Our mommy blogger Jenay is a working mom of four boys and has a few thoughts on what she calls “hands-off homeschooling.”


Y’all, my timeline has been filled with memes, funny stories and very real cries for help from parents who are experiencing a new and unexpected chapter of their lives: homeschooling.

I think we can all agree this time has given us a new respect for teachers.

Luckily, there are plenty of educational resources. That’s the other thing my timeline has been full of. Believe me, once you click on one learning resource, the Facebook algorithm throws about a million more your way.

But before you get to clicking, be warned, many of those resources cost money, require parental guidance, and can possibly lead to burnout for you and your kid. Some parents jump into hosting Corona Academy, flooding kitchen tables with worksheets and science experiments for about two days before giving up and parking the kids in front of the nearest gaming system.

Other parents (like me) have to work from home, and can’t fathom how to split the time. As a former secondary teacher and college professor, I know my way around a lesson plan. And as a parent of four boys who is working from home, I’m trying to get through this turbulent time as best as I can. Here’s what works for me.

Do Your Research

Before you print a million worksheets or sign up for all the free subscriptions going around, take the time to figure out what your kid should be learning. A good resource is the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS) found on the Texas Education Agency website.

Even though you might not teach these skills the way the teachers would, you can integrate these into your daily life better if you know what they are. Instead of daily lesson plans (because ain’t nobody got time for that) understand what they should be learning, and determine what you’re going to do towards that goal.

Come up with a plan that you’ll be able to stick with.

Let Them Fend for Themselves

This sounds worse than it is. If your kids are old enough to go to school, they can be expected to entertain themselves in an adjoining room for a couple of hours at a time.

Instead of a complicated schedule that takes a lot of parent intervention and guidance, plan this time to work with you instead of against you. Figure the time in your day where you can give undivided attention and save the hands-on work for that time.

But large chunks of time can be spent parent-free. Choose a pile of books, paper and pencils and set them off to read, write and draw quietly. Have older kids read to younger ones, and younger ones illustrate the story. Give them time to play with things they wouldn’t expect—like water guns, water balloons, or play in the dirt.

There are hundreds of educational shows on Netflix, Prime, Hulu, etc. Choose a theme for the week and let them pick which to watch. These uninterrupted spurts of one to two hours can be the life-blood of getting work done.

Get Involved

Instead of using your dedicated instruction time in a makeshift classroom, look for ways to incorporate learning into your daily life.

For example, the first TEKS for kindergarten math is being able to “apply mathematics to problems arising in everyday life, society, and the workplace.” So have your kid set the timer on the oven when you’re cooking (even if you don’t need it), count money, or determine the minutes left until time to do a task or snack time.

Turn cooking family meals into your own cooking show, and turn chore time into a friendly competition. Have older kids “help” you pay bills or shop online. Involve them in small projects around the home when appropriate.

This won’t feel like learning, but is certainly more applicable than a bunch of worksheets and it can be folded right into your day.

Use Life Lessons

During my time in the classroom, I wished more parents understood the value of teaching common sense. Kids need more than just reading, writing, and ‘”rithmatic.”

Get your kids an analog clock and let them manage their schedule. Have them do chores daily. Besides the wisdom of learning how to do these tasks, it teaches them hard work.

Spend time doing service projects from home. Mine are drawing pictures and writing daily notes to seniors in nursing homes. But you can also gather items to donate, or start a YouTube channel to read books to others. Text your neighbors to see if they need yard work done, and then send your kids to rake, weed or cut grass.

Every minute homeschooling does not need to be spent purely on academics.

As in all things, flexibility is key.

Be prepared to have a day where you have to park the kids on tablets for long stretches of time to accommodate your work, and then have “night school” after you’re done.

Find resources to help you—it’s okay to livestream a teacher who knows about new math, or let them do a kids’ yoga program when it’s raining.

And when you can be present, be all in—reading, doing puzzles, baking and playing board games. You’ll find yourself missing this special time once it’s passed, so enjoy it while you can!


Jenay Sherman is a Christian, wife, and mother to four boys in McKinney, Texas. She was selected as the 2017 Texas Mother of the Year, and loves writing about their family adventures. You can follow along on Scary Mommy, or on her personal site, 4 Amusing Muses.

Image courtesy of Pexels.