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By: John Adams, author of and dad of two young daughters
Posted on: Apr 27, 2020

Homeschooling Hacks to Get You Through Lockdown

As a stay-at-home Dad with a job, John Adams (aka Dadbloguk) is no stranger to balancing work and home-life. However, the current COVID-19 pandemic has forced him to reassess his typical day-to-day routines and embrace new ways to juggle it all. Here John shares some of his homeschooling hacks to get you and your family through lockdown.

If you’d told me a few weeks ago that I’d be homeschooling my kids while working from home because of a global health pandemic, I’d have laughed at you. Yet here we are, a few weeks later and that’s exactly what most moms and dads are doing. The impact of COVID-19 has been immense, and it’s happened with incredible speed.

I usually work from home, but since the Coronavirus lockdown, my wife has also been working from home and both my daughters have been at home. I’m having to ensure my daughters, Helen and Izzy, work through a programme of online learning set by their school while also doing my own job.

Here are some hacks I’ve learned over the past few weeks. You may find them useful if you are one of the many parents who is homeschooling and working from home at the same time.

Accept your normal work hours will change

You may be used to working from nine to five. This probably isn’t practical if you have to balance homeschooling and home working. Children need constant support and oversight when doing school work so you will need to be engaged and focused on them.

This may mean you have to get up early in the morning to work, work in the evenings or even at the weekend. The situation requires flexibility and that means you will need to be flexible with your own work hours.

Speak to your boss about this. They should be understanding to your circumstances and will hopefully make it easy for you to work when suits. After all, they’re probably facing the same challenges!

TCH John Adams Homeschooling Hacks Izzy Practices Her Time Telling
Izzy practices her time telling

Have you got the correct tech?

Education has changed since most of us were at school. School kids rely on computers and tech almost as much as us adults do in the office.

Have you got a computer your children can use at home? Ideally you want one computer for each child. You may also need a printer and scanner.

When my daughters’ school was first closed because of COVID-19, we all shared computers and tablets but it just didn’t work. I ended up buying laptops for both my kids and since then homeschooling has been much smoother.

You may not be in a position to do this for your kids. If, however, they can work on a tablet or you can at least set aside a computer for your own work, things will be much easier.

Give your day some structure

Children are used to structure so try and plan your homeschooling day.

I have arranged things so that we start learning at 9am, have a break at 10.15am and stop for lunch at 12.15pm before finishing learning between 2pm and 3pm.

My kids are used to this kind of schedule at school and it works well at home. It also makes it easier for you as you can plan to check your emails or make urgent calls when they are having their breaks and you can tell colleagues you will be back on line and available in the mid-afternoon.

TCH John Adams Homeschooling Hacks Izzy Her Tea Party
Izzy getting creative and holding a tea party for some of her toys as part of a homeschooling project

Be creative

Give your children the chance to be creative (there are some wonderful ideas on the British Rainy Day Mum blog). Provide them with arts and crafts materials or give them some old food cartons and get them ‘junk modelling.’

These activities are fun, require little effort and are cheap. It would also be no bad thing if your children got to do the cleaning up afterwards (learning isn’t just about school work)!

Get outside

If you have the opportunity and your Government guidelines allow it, spend some time outside every day. Children spend about an hour and a half playing outside during the school day, so be sure to get outside for as long as you can but keep an eye on your children and remember to stay two metres (6 feet) apart from anyone else.

TCH John Adams Homeschooling Hacks Helen Izzy Exploring the Outdoors
Helen and Izzy exploring the outdoors during one of our daily walks

Enjoy this time and don’t put yourself under pressure

There’s no question about it, these are challenging times. Balancing work and family life when you are all at home together is not easy.

Don’t put yourself under pressure to replicate what your children’s school does. You can’t do that. Just give your children the opportunity to undertake some learning during a structured day.

Remember, no other parents in our lifetime have faced these challenges. Also, few parents will the same opportunity to spend this much time with their school-aged kids or get such in-depth knowledge of how they are educated. It will be tough, but you will have downtime where you can have fun on walks, explore nature, do arts and crafts, play games and make memories.

You may never get the chance to spend so much time with your children again, so do your best to enjoy the experience.

Stay safe, keep smiling and remember - you're doing a great job!