Coronavirus Homeschooling: Ideas for Teaching with Nothing for Free

Now that states are canceling school for the remaining school year many parents are looking for homeschool help because their schools are providing little or no guidance. (Yes, this is real. Some school districts are not responding well to this crisis)

Here are five things new homeschool parents can do that cost NO money.

1.Read books or create stories

If you have a library of children’s books at home read a few a day. Pick them out by theme or genre and build a few lessons using the different stories. One day work on cause and effect. Using the same story on day two have students sequence the major events of the book. Write the prompts on a piece of paper and cut the paper before having students do the sequence work.

If you know yourself, introduce or review verbs. Have your student find the verb in each sentence. Do the same with nouns or adjectives.

If you have a large at-home library, put all of the books in a pile and have students sort them by fiction and non-fiction. On day two have students sort the fiction pile by genres such as fantasy or mystery. On day three have students sort the non-fiction pile by genre as well. Genres could be informational or biographical.

This exercise works for any age group but is especially important for elementary-aged students.

For households with limited or no at-home library, tell your student stories you remember. Or create stories. Create booklets out of paper if you can and write a story with your student and have them create the illustrations.

Libraries are closed at the publication of this blog but many libraries have digital books you can check out. Access your local library and see what’s available for your students.

2. Perfect basic school skills

Not every parent is capable of teaching. Teaching is hard. And it is okay if you find that teaching your child is hard. But that isn’t an excuse to skip homeschooling. Perfect those basic skills we all have and what your student may still be learning.

Make a worksheet of addition problems. Make a worksheet of subtraction problems. Make a worksheet that combines both. If your student is learning multiplication or division then make a worksheet with those problems. Keep making them work on basic skills. They need to keep practicing their basic math skills so when they eventually go back to school they aren’t starting over.

If your student is older and the math is beyond you (I couldn’t do an algebra problem if my life depended on it) have them teach you. New math methods have you scratching your head? Let them teach you. Don’t get frustrated and lecture about it, just let them teach you.

If your student is weak in math (like me. I have no idea how I got through two years of algebra in high school) work backward until you can find a math they can demonstrate to you. Can they work fractions with confidence? Then have them review fractions every day. Maybe your high school junior has to go back to long division (a 3rd – 5th-grade math skill) before they find confidence. That’s okay. Work on it.

If your school isn’t giving you resources, you have to do what you can. Don’t be shamed. None of us can do it all. I was a high school teacher but I couldn’t teach high school math. (Chemistry and physics too)

Science? Journal about all the changes as spring emerges. Make a chart showing the temperatures each day or the amount of precipitation. Discuss simple life cycles like flowers.


3. Make lists and rank things

If you are reading this blog then you have some kind of internet access which means you have access to the vast array of free stuff on the internet. And you’ve probably read an article or two that ranks the best of something. The Greatest TV Shows of All Time. Just today I read the Top Five Shows With Rushed Final Seasons. Do that with your student. Some days keep it academic such as ranking the best presidents (or the worst). Others, let them pick something.

Your student can present the list to you. Challenge them on the ranking. Have them justify their choices. Is Shakespeare really the most important English writer? Is Jane Austen missing from their list entirely? Make them explain. (And force her on the list. She must at least be number three. (Kidding.))

Learn with your student. It doesn’t matter that you don’t know the which scientific invention is the best of all time. Read a few articles with your student and make your own ranking. Debate with them. Have some fun.

On days that they get to choose maybe they will pick something like the best basketball teams of all time or the best rap songs. What they choose may not be of interest to you but let them do it anyway. They are working on the most basic of research skills as well as critical thinking, decision making, analysis, and justification. These are all important skills.


4. Use online resources

There are too many resources to recommend and even more that I don’t know about. But here are two that I want to remind parents about:

Wikipedia and PBS Kids (and PBS Learning Media)

Keeping with the free theme, they are free.

Wikipedia is the often vilified online encyclopedia that covers EVERY subject. Other than truly obscure historical references, I’ve never been to Wikipedia and not found what I was looking for.

The information is basic and sometimes over-simplified. Yes, people can get on there and provide false information but if you are homeschooling with no resources, you can’t afford to ignore Wikipedia. Your student isn’t writing their Ph.D. dissertation and the information they need is basic enough that I have no worries about recommending it.

And you can always work with your student on finding multiple sources to cross-reference what they find. That’s another great skill that they need and it costs no money.

PBS isn’t just shows anymore. They have games based on the shows and they are offering tons of school resources for your students. Plus, students will feel like they are having fun and will forget they are learning.


5. Presentations and projects

First of all, they take up time. Second, they can be as simple or complicated as you want them to be. Third, students need to practice presenting their learning to someone.

Collaborate with your student to pick something to work on. If they like history, have them pick a topic to write about. An event, a person – whatever. Now, work with them on what they will create. If they like writing, have them write a formal research paper (nothing wrong with traditional). If they are interested in storytelling, maybe they could write a scene in a play or storyboard a movie. Let them paint a picture.

It doesn’t really matter so long as they learn something. When they are finished, have them present it to you. Ask questions to prompt them along if you need to but encourage them to present like they would in the classroom. They need the practice.


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