Around the country, schools are closing, and parents (at least those who have the ability to stay home) are panicking about keeping up with schooling.

Here are a few tips from a K-12 homeschool veteran:

First of all, you don’t have to achieve anything. A few months off school won’t make a bit of difference in the long run. When people transition to homeschooling from school, everyone recommends several months of “deschooling.” Deschooling means reconnecting as a family, doing fun educational things — free reading, movies, documentaries, museums (check out virtual ones online), and so on.

Your child’s teachers are home, panicking. They are doing everything they can to move their platforms online, figuring out how to teach virtually, and how to reach students who don’t have reliable internet at home.

Do everything you can to support your student’s teachers. You may have to be the classroom disciplinarian.

Many schools are not allowing teachers to teach remotely because too many children don’t have internet or computer access at home. If this is the case, you have a choice – you can have school or not.

After spring break winds down, however, and there are no public activities, you may find yourself desperate to start homeschooling, just to keep your kids busy. The number one thing you can do to boost their academic achievement is free reading. You could set up a few hours in the morning for reading time (thousands of free books can be downloaded to phones/tablets from https://www.gutenberg.org/). You can shut off the wifi if you want to make sure they are actually reading during this time.

Students don’t *need* to be doing any “school work” attached to free reading, but if you want them to do something, or to keep a record, writing a short review of each book on an index card is more than sufficient. Or ask them to write a GoodReads review (either on the website, or simply in that style).

Exercise is going to be incredibly important to keeping kids from climbing up the walls. If you can’t get outside, consider having a family aerobics/tabata time (https://www.tabatatimer.com/) – apologies to downstairs neighbors.

If that’s not keeping your students busy enough, consider adding math. For the elementary/middle school set, Math Mammoth has an excellent menu of full curriculum, topic specific help, and daily review (daily review might be the most helpful thing at this time – you wouldn’t have to teach new topics, and they wouldn’t forget the math they’ve learned so far). https://www.mathmammoth.com/ – all these resources are downloadable. (The Math Mammoth full curriculum is a bit ahead of the standard US progression. Book 7 is equivalent to the standard 8th grade curriculum.)

For high school students, you can find free downloadable math books at https://openstax.org/. For those who are interested in math, try Exeter Math problem sets https://www.exeter.edu/mathproblems, although you may want to drop back a year on those (for example, students in Geometry might want to do Math 1 instead of Math 2.)

For math help, try Khan Academy videos. https://www.khanacademy.org/

Consider pooling your resources with friends – if you’re good at writing, and your child’s friend’s mother is an ace at math, you could have telephone or internet “classes.”

It takes most homeschool families a *year* at least to find their groove. Don’t feel that you have to accomplish miracles in these next few weeks or months. Some time off school may be just the thing to help your students engage a love of learning – remember Isaac Newton had to leave college to hide from the Plague. He got bored sitting around, so he invented Calculus.