This is one blog post I never imagined I’d be writing. After all, we had managed to homeschool through the myself and the kids having the flu, colds, COVID and a hospital stay for my husband; but here we are, the day when we have to ask for help, the day when I have to be prepared to have a substitute teacher for the boys. During the last month, I have been diagnosed with cancer and with this diagnosis comes a whirlwind of change in our home and in our homeschool. There will now be days I need to be gone for treatments and days where I quite possibly won’t be able to get out of bed. And while we could just skip school on these days, I would rather keep our routine as close to normal as possible. This isn’t just for school purposes – I’m not that much of a stickler – rather it is for the sake of normal. Here is what we have learned during the last month about prepping for other people to teach some school days.

  1. Keep it simple! – I can’t say this one loud enough. For the first few days where others were teaching the boys, I tried to keep the routine exactly the same. I thought this was simple enough because the boys pretty much run their own day every day anyway. They know when to do which subject, what is expected for that subject and for how long to work on said subject. What I didn’t account for is the fact they are off simply because I’m not home.
  2. Expect Less – You are the driving force in your homeschool. Your children will do less for someone else.
  3. Leave Clear Expectations – Whether the substitute is Dad, Grandma, Grandpa or a friend of the family they need to know what you expect. Anything that is unclear leaves room for contention, arguments and frustration. No one – absolutely no one can read your mind. We’ve found checklists are helpful. If I leave a specific list of what each child is to accomplish, everyone has a better experience.
  4. Research or Focused Projects work better – Though it is different from normal, it is still school and school time is still recognized keeping our routine in place. Most of the time, I can predict “bad days” so this one is working for us. Similar to our explore weeks, short research projects allow the boys to focus on one thing and wrap all of their subjects into one idea. This means less transitions and more focus.

I’m sure we will continue to learn things as this season stretches on and as we do, I’ll keep on sharing. In the mean time, keep it smart. Keep it simple.