JANUARY 5, 2021

Advice For Transitioning to Homeschool


Sponsored by Laurel Springs School.

For some parents, taking on the responsibility of schooling outside of the classroom walls is uncharted territory, and it is not a natural process for everyone.

How are parents coping with this change? We tapped into the parent community at Laurel Springs—a respected online, private school for K–12 students—and asked them to give their advice about how to effectively handle the transition to online learning. They were all new at this once, too.

What is one thing that contributed greatly to your child’s successful transition to learning online?

“Empower them. Make them own their experiences.”

“I relaxed and gave us all time to adjust. I tried to set an example of learning a new thing, and I showed that adapting to a new situation was important and fun.”

“Focus on teaching self sufficiency skills first, then focus on content. Younger kids might need help with the basics—supplies, learning space, body position, best time to learn, list of things to do, how to prioritize, strategies to find help, fun ways to exhibit their work to the world.”

“Create a structured environment. Our daughter creates a weekly schedule for herself every Sunday. She adapts the schedule as needed throughout the week. She is a self-starter, which makes our jobs easier, but it is important for her to report her progress each day and at the end of the week. This way she feels seen, and we can offer her feedback or congratulate her on her successes for the week.”

“PATIENCE and STRUCTURE are what will help through the transition. Have patience in knowing that this is going to be bumpy, but despite the bumps, you have to stick to whatever plan you initially made. You have to hold to the structure you set in order to model the appropriate behavior for your child.”

“There is a learning curve for the child to adjust to online learning. Be patient in the beginning. They will increase in independence very quickly and will soon be off and running.”

“Give yourself and your child lots of grace. If they’re having an off hour or day…regroup. Ask your child questions to find what’s not working. Take some time to figure out what environment and conditions your child works best in.”

“Recognize that learning at home does not look like classroom learning. A lot more can be accomplished in less time when working at home. Class length doesn’t have to be regimented or timed. Some days, my son will work a large block of time on one class and not even touch another. As long as the learning is happening, it’s successful.”

Please share your recommendations and/or strategies for helping a child create structure conducive to doing their school work at home.

“It’s important to let the kids do the work. They are so quick at learning new learning platforms. Don’t come in between.”

“Let them find their own schedule and encourage a self rewarding system that helps them feel proud of their own accomplishments and independence.”

“We treat schoolwork like a job with a flexible schedule. I think by allowing some decision-making in the process of older children is successful.” 

“You have to have something to be working towards—graduation, a show, completing the school year, something that has meaning. Your kid has to be self-motivated to want to do the work.”

“We have always tried to cover material quickly. Then we go out to apply real-world relevance.”

“Get your child’s buy-in to the idea that they can become more autonomous by showing you, their teachers, and their peers that they are in control of the work they are doing.” 

“Maintain social connections outside of school.”

“Make time for physical activity and fitness.”

“Be flexible in your scheduling—be willing to change and tweak.”

What advice would you offer a parent who is new to supporting a child learning at home or online?

“Give them the option to figure it out for themselves. They need to feel in control rather than overwhelmed.”

“Be supportive and patient. The transition to online learning is not always smooth.”

“Stay diligent with their schedules and don’t let them get too far behind.”

“It takes a few weeks to get the hang of it, get into a rhythm, and have the kinks worked out. Stick to a schedule.” 

Tell us one thing you wish you had known at the start of your child’s transition to learning from home.

“Encourage them to ask questions—early and often. Don’t be shy. Reach out to your teachers, even if it’s a small question or just a feeling that you are not sure about how to do something. This prevents bigger problems further down the road.”

“Initially, we didn’t set a schedule. It was an oversight for us to believe a child was going to properly structure their day for success as we saw it. Set a schedule for each hour of the day. In our case, she rides horses from 7AM until late morning or early afternoon, depending on the day, then school from about 1PM to 6PM. After that, we enjoy our evenings together for dinner.”

“24 hours goes fast. I was far too ambitious when we started, thinking that we would have time to learn everything under the sun. There needs to be a balanced approach. There’s no way you are going to do everything you can possibly dream up, and they do need other things as well—physical activity, family time, and downtime.”

“Looking back, I was concerned that I would not be able to educate my kids like a true professional. However, I found we learned so much together and many life skills and lessons on the way. Have fun, be creative, and enjoy the opportunity!”

To learn more about how Laurel Springs can be a good fit for your family, click here.