Practical Homeschool Tips For Beginners

You're a full time homeschooler now...


Now you get to figure out how to get your kids to do their school work while at home, and their homework at home, too, while away from school and their teachers and friends and routine, also while making breakfast, lunch, and dinner, plus snacks, and don't forget to clean up and do dishes, all while tackling the messes that accrue while everyone is home 24/7, and feeling isolated even though you're now never alone at all...ever.

Sounds fun!

Listen, we're all new to this.  Even seasoned homeschool parents are adapting to not meeting with co-op groups or going on the typical field trips.

We're all figuring this out.

So while you're adjusting to your new rhythms, here are a few ideas to help keep you and the kiddos sane, even while navigating middle school math, the war of 1812, or thousands of episodes of Daniel Tiger and replays of Frozen II.

Brain Breaks

Studies have shown that kids do better with frequent, mini breaks to help them wiggle and fidget, relax and refocus, and switch gears if necessary.  I find this is especially effective in-between subjects.

Brain breaks have been shown to reduce stress and frustration while increasing attention and productivity.

Finished with math?  Take 5 minutes before starting another subject or worksheet.  Ideally, younger kids need a quick break every 15 minutes or so, older kids at least every 30 minutes.

Brain breaks can be something active (great to get wiggles out and more blood to the brain) like running in place, making snow angels on the floor, or having a quick dance party.

For kids who need less stimulus, or who have a hard time settling down after physical activity, try quiet methods like a coloring page or sketching, a short guided meditation or breathing exercise, or simply putting their head down on their desk and closing their eyes for a couple minutes.


Everyone likes a good snack, and kids are the ultimate connoisseurs!  Their bodies work very efficiently, burn a lot of calories, and brains actually need more fuel when working extra hard (hello algebra)!

A quick snack can be great during a brain break.  You can also offer a small treat or snack as an incentive to push through a tough assignment.

I keep a box of snacks that's reserved specifically for homeschool studies in our shelf with all our school supplies.

We have mini pretzels, raisins and other dried fruits, marshmallows, jelly beans, goldfish crackers, fancy cereal (like Cookie Crisp, which I don't give them for breakfast, but they can have a small amount during homeschool)...basically anything that doesn't make a huge mess but is crunchy or chewy, and super satisfying.

All my kids get to have snacks while they work, but this is especially useful for my son who has ADHD and sometimes struggles with completing assignments, staying on task, or even starting!  I'll often just walk by where he's working and place a few goodies on his desk and praise him for his hard work.  You don't need to wait for a break or for them to ask for a snack, in fact, it's worked better for us if I don't wait!  I'm all about the positive reinforcement.

Change of Scenery

The coffee break.  Adults love to take a mid morning or afternoon breaks from the monotony of work, and get some fresh air.  Some people even sit and work in a coffee shop for a change of pace.

I hope it's obvious I'm not saying your kids need a literal coffee break (uh, NO), but sometimes working from a new spot can reset the mind and body, and can be especially great for kids who struggle with fidgeting.

Light, sounds, smells, seating, time of to see how these affect your kids and don't be afraid to change things up!

My son does especially well reading history packets from my bed or on a pouf in his room.  My daughter sometimes lies on the floor on her stomach to do her work.  We'll all go outside and do our studies on a blanket in the grass.

If things are feeling monotonous, or kids are getting restless or irritable, try switching their chair, the room, the temperature (we often open windows when the weather feels good outside), turn off some lights in the room, or simply go outside.

Keep a Routine

You've heard it before: Kids do best with a predictable routine.

I'll be the first to tell you I'm terrible at sticking to the same routine every single day, especially a play-by-play, by the hour sort of schedule.  I'm a go with the flow kind of person, but I have ABSOLUTELY noticed the benefit of noticing our natural daily rhythms and creating a block schedule to not only help us stay on track, but also help the kids feel like they have some control over their day.

Creating routine actually creates more flexibility and freedom.

Cut Yourself a Break (seriously)

This is new for everyone.  Don't worry about how long it takes you to find a routine and rhythm.  The kids will be just fine no matter when "normal" school starts up again.  Some days will be easier than others, but with a simple routine, an uplifting atmosphere, and a few incentives, you and your kids will get through this just fine!

Who knows?  Maybe you'll find a love for homeschooling you didn't know you had, and maybe your kids will absolutely thrive!

If nothing else, I think we've all realized just how heroic our school teachers really are!


How is homeschool going for you?  What's your routine like?  Are you considering keeping it up after public schools have opened up again?  Please share your thoughts and suggestions!

♥ Holly