Something shocking suddenly happened to a lot of American parents: Whether they intended to or not, at some level, they’re homeschooling their kids.

Okay, maybe they’re not literally homeschooling, but it might feel like it to parents who never expected to be so deeply involved in their kids’ day-to-day learning activities. With countless schools either going to full-time e-learning or using some sort of blended program, a lot of learning has shifted into the home. Some households are reeling as a result. Sure, parents learned a few things last spring when they suddenly had to bring their kids home to learn, but now we’re launching a new school year and what looked like a short-term challenge last spring is emerging as a long-term commitment this fall. And that can seem daunting.

What’s important to remember is that the parents of about 2 million kids choose to homeschool every year. You can learn from their experiences. To get you started, here are four key tips from their best habits.

Work with your child. Cultivate a “we’re all in this together” mindset, and coordinate with your child on processes, schedules, rules, etc. Don’t dictate; collaborate.

Set a routine. Many schools have schedules that students are expected to stick to: a set time to log on to the computer, for example, or to connect to a Zoom call. If so, build a routine around those schedules that allows for free time, active time and quiet time. If your school does not dictate a schedule, work with your child to create one. Begin and end each day at the same time.

Carve out a space (or two). You might have survived the end of the last school year by having your child do school work at the dining room table, but that might not suffice for this year. Create a dedicated school space for your child’s school work – and, because kids usually aren’t in a single place all day at school, if possible, create a secondary space for when they need a change.

Be flexible. Routines and workspaces will be a big help, but don’t be so rigid that there’s no room for creativity or fun. And, when things go wrong, give yourself and your kid a break: Nobody’s going to be the perfect homeschooler, but anyone can be a good one.

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