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all the tips for unexpected short-term homeschooling

It’s been a week, right?

In case you’re wondering about this short-term homeschooling gig that just got added to your mama resume, I wanted to point you in some helpful directions :)

First, you may have been given resources from your child’s teacher – if so, start there.

Second, decide how you want these days to look.  We have a routine…we start the day together, often i light a candle, we read …make it cozy, beautiful and a treat to start the day!

Third, have clear expectations – write it out as a list…our week has a clear plan (down to the chores to complete). But rather than a timed schedule, we have a rhythm so one activity flows into the next.

If your child is in a particularly rigorous academic environment, then the most helpful thing might be to make space for rest.  Encourage exploration of a particular interest.  And provide balance in areas that don’t usually have as much nourishment…what does their heart need?  Maybe it’s a great book!  What follows are some building blocks for creating a home school for this short unexpected hiatus from their typical school environment if that makes sense!

But mostly, use this true gift of time together to focus on connection and their interests.

Language Arts:

I love The Good and The Beautiful curriculum…and surprise, they have Level 1-5 available as a free pdf download (I’ve linked to Level 1)!  It’s well planned and ‘open and go’…you’ll have spelling, reading, vocabulary, art appreciation and more bundled in one spot!  Long term, you’d want to get their printed books but for short-term needs, the downloads are perfect!



We use (and sometimes laugh out loud because it’s so entertaining), Teaching Textbooks.  Math can be fun!  They have an online trial for 15 lessons which will probably end up being perfect for you!  Take a quick assessment so your child is matched to the right level.  They go all the way to Pre-Calculus so I think most of you will be covered ;)  Also, this is one of those homeschool things that can be so awesome in the summertime just to keep math from getting rusty.  Their customer service is probably the best I’ve ever encountered.



Audrey fell in love with history because of these audiobooks – she would listen to them as she played with Legos and even though they are dozens of hours long, she listened to them multiple times because she enjoyed them so much.  It became her favorite subject, hands down.  They are spendy, and aren’t perfect (they use the word ‘stupid’ which we don’t use at home, and there are some violent parts) but at ages 10-11, they were a good fit for Audrey. (20% off code right now using stuckathome). We use The Good and the Beautiful for our weekly history but they’re getting ready to move to a larger facility and my guess is that products wouldn’t arrive in time.



Find an amazing classic book (this list has guided us to so many good ones)…too often, reading aloud is dropped once a child can read on their own but study after study shows the powerful connective tool it is for parents and children.  3 years ago, before we were homeschooling, Audrey had a bug and we cuddled up and read The Hiding Place together (for pre-teens or older) from start to finish and wept over the beauty of the Ten Boom family.  Hands down, my most favorite book aside from scripture (a couple parts were edited…and that’s so easily done with read alouds)…and one of my favorite winter break memories.

If you don’t want to dive into a big book, get a stack of shorter ones!  I’ve got a list of all my most favorite childrens books here!



Last year, in history, when we were learning about Joan of Arc, we watched this documentary that turned me into the biggest Joan of Arc super fan.  I can’t believe how little I knew :(  So, find documentaries about whatever your children are really into…maybe plan for 1 per week.  There are so many documentaries on Amazon Prime, Netflix, Disney+…take a look and cue them up on your watch list.



Play learning games

Take time to dive deep into their interests, or introduce them to one of yours!

Get outside for some awesome hikes (P.E. class!) since spring is so beautiful

Set aside some time this weekend to plan and make it memorable!

Don’t try to replicate the school classroom at home – use all the options you have to your advantage!  Reading can be in the hammock or in a fort (this could end up being an incredibly meaningful & memorable time for your family)!  At the beginning of the year, when I wanted to add a study of classical composers to our school year, I made it ‘composer tea time’ where we set the table for a special tea, used sugar cubes and the cutest little spoons and *poof* it was magic and we couldn’t wait each week for it to come around again!!

Take time to work on life skills – do your kiddos know how to do their laundry?  Have a tutorial and then write out the steps.  In my sister-in-law’s family, they were taught as soon as they could reach the knobs!  Can they bake independently? Minus opening the oven door to retrieve something, let them pick something simple like cookies and go for it! Baking is full of fractions, reading comprehension, and a great place for those “Look, what I made!” moments to happen!  Tip: put the bowl they’re using to collect ingredients in the sink and it will catch the vast majority of stray stuff.  And let them know a tutorial on clean-up happens afterwards ;)  For middle schoolers and above, it’s the perfect time for them to read something like How to Win Friends or learn about money management with The Simple Path to Wealth or Rich Dad, Poor Dad and give you either a narration or simple written report.

For high schoolers, try a trial (now extended from 14 days to a month) at Great Courses (we haven’t used these yet but I’ve heard so many recommendations for them).

Feel free to reach out with any questions, really!  I want these weeks of cocooning to be beautiful for you & your family!  Start slow.  Learning at home has been such a joy for us,  it feels like a treat to be able to share a tiny bit of the goodness of it!

Most importantly, remember to ‘put your oxygen mask on first’…set aside some time each day to make this chapter sustainable and joyful for you as a mom!

Cheering you on…you’ve got this,  -melanie-

P.S. For sessions, we’re mindful of following CDC guidelines so we can do our part in stopping the spread…being a part of your life for so long means I most often hug upon seeing you and I’ll pause that and replace it with a curtsy as long as we need to so everyone stays healthy!!


P.P.S Even our homeschool looks different these days – no weekly trips to the library, spending time with friends/fieldtrips…I’ve had a lot of questions about homeschooling as of late so just a few things:

  • I deeply *love* doing this but actually don’t recommend it for everyone.
  • Each homeschool is SO different from another.  But it’s one of my most favorite things about it – you emphasize & make time for what is important to your family.  So even though you aren’t homeschooling now, lean into that and emphasize what you value.
  • We take standardized tests each year…if you aren’t at a school, you can pay to take them, and we do :)
  • You don’t lecture all day as a homeschooling mother.  Homeschooling curriculum is written for older children to learn more independently…but I grade afterwards. There are subjects that I teach but generally we do it curled up on a couch with a blanket over us for added coziness.  I’m entirely convinced that soft blankets are essential homeschool supplies.
  • On why we homeschool, like any big life decision, there are likely so many pieces of information that inform it but we took this step because of spiritual promptings to do so.  We learned as much as we could, talked at length with every homeschooling family we or friends knew, attended a conference dedicated to home education as a family and made the decision together whether or not we would pursue it.
  • We are in the last couple of months of our second year of homeschool.
  • Audrey’s friends always ask her about sleeping in (she’s an early bird and still gets up early) and tests (we have far fewer, I’m sure – but plenty of review).


all the tips for unexpected short-term homeschooling
photo by cassidy dawn

To arouse wonder.. must be one of the teacher's principal aims.

Essex Cholmondley