Tips for Learning at Home - From a Teacher-Mom

April 3, 2020

I don't know about you, but it felt like Remote Learning came into our household like a tsunami. When we first got word that schools were closing, there was that brief moment before the tsunami hits. It was that strange calm when the ocean recedes, and for a moment, I was like, "OK, yeah, we've got this!" I mean between my husband and I, we have over 30 years of teaching experience. So, while I knew we were going to be faced with the challenges of the new routine and all the sad ripple effects of the pandemic, I felt like the "home school" element was definitely within our wheelhouse. I had visions of home school being just like this...

And then the tsunami waves came crashing down on us. Reality hit hard. Day one of home school actually looked like this:

Yes, that's our son wrapped in a blanket refusing to do any more work. As you can imagine, he's crying. I'm yelling. My husband is demanding. Our other son is giggling. The dog is barking. It's chaos. The storm has hit!

Day one was a disaster, but I did come to one realization:

It's HARD to teach your own child. All of the patience that I normally have with every other child on the planet goes right out the window when my own children write in a sloppy manner or rush through their work. I needed to get a system together so that we could all be successful...and fast!

So...little by little, we made changes. We're inching towards success. We're not there yet, our home school days are still not perfect, but there are moments that give me hope! Here's what we're trying now.

1. Set a Schedule 

I thought we could be carefree about home school, but that doesn't work for us. So, we put "school hours" in place. The boys each get to work when they wake up and they can access their technology once "school" is over. We work in the morning and "play" in the afternoon. Our oldest writes his schedule out in his school planner each day. So far, so good!

2. Get Organized 

When we were one week into home school, I realized that we needed to create a portable "learning zone" and get organized. Here are some of the items that are helping us stay sane:

1.  White Board with Markers    2. Pencils    3. Supply Box    4. Pencil Sharpener    5. Clipboard    6. Hanging File Folder Box and Folders     7. Storage Bin   8. Erasers

3. Give them Choices 

As a teacher, I know all about the power of "choice." So, I decided to give our own kids choices, too. When putting together their daily schedule, they chose the order that they wanted to do their subjects. 

I also wanted to give them choices while they worked, so I put together a reading response choice board for our sixth grader. Each day, after he reads, he can choose which prompt he responds to. For our eighth grader, I made a set of writing prompts filled with choices to complete. The choices give them a say in their learning, and that helps so much! 

If you want to give the reading and writing choices a try, download the FREE reading response choices here and the FREE choice writing prompts HERE

4. Have some fun!

1. Free Silly Task Cubes    2. Fake Glasses   3. Grips   4. Witch Fingers    5. Read Aloud  6. Flair Pens

It didn't take us long to realize that we needed to "amp up" the fun factor while learning at home. So, I got out some of my old classroom motivators to try out at home. The silly task cubes are FREE and they're perfect for spicing up a regular assignment. Kids just roll the cube and complete their work in a fun way like writing behind their backs. Speaking of writing, our boys' handwriting is a mess! So, I put grips on their pencils to help them get back on track.

The fake glasses and witch fingers make reading more fun. Let kids put them on and you'll love how excited they are to work.

I've included a book because our family has started reading a book together every night. It helps with the long days at home. We're reading Fort by Cynthia DeFelice right now. 

Oh, and flair pens. Do not underestimate the power of colorful pens when trying to get kids to work!

5. Snacks and Stretches 

While teaching our boys at home, we've realized that we need to take some intentional breaks with them. So, we've instituted "snacks and stretches." During their "school day" we like to put out snacks for our boys. Also, we pause their learning occasionally for a little stretch break. You could even take this one step farther and have a moment of mindfulness. Here are some free quotes and activities to get you started.


So far, we've grown a lot from this experience. There are still so many things that we can improve, but for now, we're going to take it one day at a time. I hope you know that you're not alone. If you're a "mom on the edge" like me, then at least we're in this together!

Thanks for stopping by!
Mary Beth

P.S. - I've put together a BUNCH of "Learning at Home" resources for teachers and parents. Check them out right here!

Parents and Teachers - here are some simple ways to make remote learning more successful at home. Written from a "mom on the edge," you'll find ideas and freebies for helping with remote learning.

This post contains affiliate links.

© Copyright 2017 Brainwaves Instruction. All Rights Reserved. Web Development by Steven L Smith. Design by Ruby & Sass.