Coronavirus family survival 101: How to work and school from home *Fall 2020 update*

coronavirus survival how to school and work from home woman pointing to E=mc squared on small chalkboard how to school and work from home in coronavirus isolation homeschool


Suddenly we’re all home–to work, to school, to be in this together. The coronavirus is making family life a strange and wonderful thing (but also, maybe hard?).  Guys, I’m jumping in to help normalize some of the anxiety around suddenly schooling your kids at home while you are also trying to work and/or keep home life together.

*NOTE: Fall 2020 Update –  here we still are. Some of the info below won’t be as relevant if your child is doing virtual schooling now, but there are some good resources so I am leaving this post up. However, check out a new post for this fall: 11 tips for Family Mental Health, Sanity & Togetherness. Great ways to create some certainty and fun and family mental health this fall!

I am going to provide some tips and a few basic resources.


(Please note: if were not already homeschooling  your kids before this crisis hit, what you are doing right how is crisis schooling and it is much harder. Give yourself (and your kids) a break. Schooling in a crisis is hard. It won’t look like regular school or regular homeschooling–and that’s ok.)

Think of this (and homeschooling in general) as having access to a huge buffet. You don’t want all of it. Some of it will taste terrible to you. Skip anything that looks weird. There is no right way to do a buffet and there is no right way to homeschool. Take some bites of what looks good and skip over the rest. There are just too many resources.

And this is temporary. This at-home school situation will eventually end and kids will go back to school at some point. Anything you can do to keep them on a bit of learning is going to be helpful, but kids are natural learners so they will still be learning stuff, even if it’s not from a textbook or fabulous online resource. Great time to teach some cooking skills. Or cleaning skills. And organization skills. Just have your kids watch what you are doing and talk them through it. You know a lot of things and your kid can learn so much just by watching you do what you do.

DO NOT STRESS ABOUT DOING SCHOOL. It will be absolutely enough to do a little math and a little reading every day. Then let them play.

(About me: I homeschooled 3 kids, preschool through high school. They seem mostly ok.)

General tips: how to work and school from home in the time of coronavirus isolation

Your family is all getting to hang out together. It’s possibly awesome, but also probably stressful being all up in each other’s business all.the.time. Mental health for the family (including you) trumps math.

1. It really is okay if you get little to no school done on any given day.

Really really really. They will pick back up where they left off at some point in the YEARS of education ahead of them.

2. It really is okay if your kids (and or you) spend hours on digital devices.

No one’s brain is going to turn to mush. Eyestrain is more the worry, so pace yourselves.

Think about how you want to come out the other side as a family when this is all over and we go back to our ‘real’ daily lives. What memories do you want to have of this time and what do you want your kids to remember? Ideally, we want to create an environment where screaming parents and crying children (or vice versa) is kept to the lowest possible level.

3. Step back from trying to build epic memories every day.

This isn’t summer break. Work and school are still going on to some degree, so it’s okay if you can’t (or don’t want to) build a pillow fort every single day. Or bake cookies. Or whatever.

MENTAL HEALTH MATTERS FOR PARENTS, TOO! But it’s also okay if that’s something you really want to do and it makes you happy.

4. Do something fun everyday.

Ask your kids what would be fun to do. What would you like to do? Do those things. It seems easy to say, but when was the last time YOU did something in this quarantine you wanted to do? Happy parents mean happy kids. And less stressed kids.

5. A daily schedule is going to save your life. Even a loose guide.

A routine of some kind will really help to:

a) not have every day just drag on forever, and

b) give you a chance to do the things YOU need to do (work or home stuff) that you are used to doing without small humans underfoot all the time. Also, your kid is used to some structure at school, so stealing their classroom schedule for part of their day could be helpful for their mental health.

6. Things like making beds and getting out of pajamas will help life feel more normal.

May I suggest moving on to yoga pants?

7. DO NOT Google ‘how to homeschool’.

You will end up down a rabbit hole and we won’t see you again until sometime in July.

8. DO NOT search ‘how to homeschool’ on Pinterest.

We won’t see you until 2023.

9. If your school provided resources, start there.

It will probably be things your child is familiar with and that’s really helpful when everything else is weird in their lives. Your goal is to get your kid vaguely to the end of their school year. You do NOT need to come up with curriculum and adhere to state guidelines. Do not re-invent the wheel.

10. Schoolwork will take very little time in your kid’s day.

Even if they are doing everything their school sends. If you have work of your own to do, this could be a bit surprising (and honestly, disappointing, haha). I’ll link some resources below for ideas of things they can do on their own as well as some good edutainment resources so that you can get your stuff done, too.

11. Set a limit on snack availability. And pick one cup for the day.

It seems like children (and maybe me) want to snack all dang day when they are home. I saw a great idea of giving each kid their snack allotment at the beginning of the day (along with one cup for them to use) in a little basket or something. That way they can try to pace themselves. And also, so you’re not asked for a snack every 15 minutes. I have the last sleeve of Thin Mints in my personal snack basket right now…

12. Remember that no one knows how home-life is ‘supposed’ to look right now.

You will likely have some days where you just need to hang out in your pajamas and not be productive. Where the house is a mess and kids don’t get school done. It is OKAY. (But too many days like this are probably cause for some concern, so if you feel your family sliding into anxiety and depression, start by showering, getting dressed and taking everyone outside for a walk.) Knowing how to school and work from home during a coronavirus crisis is NEW TO ALL OF US. It’s okay to take a little time to hit your stride, as a human and as a family.

How to keep your kids learning and edutained so you can get stuff done

One of the hardest things about this home-bound part of the coronavirus pandemic is that we have these weird bits of work life that are continuing, so we’re doing conference calls in pajama pants with kids under our desk. And it’s all so freaking distracting. Here are some educational resources and some edutainment resources. Take what is useful and leave the rest.

How to keep ‘em smart

Scholastic Learn at Home

FREE Day-to-day projects for kids aged Prek – 9th grade. There is all kinds of cool stuff for kids to do, arranged in a list of things to do that day. Very cool.


Great for Prek-3rd grade, concentrates on teaching reading. App and online games and some free printables. Lesson plans, too, if you’re into that. 🙂

Reading Eggs

Reading and literacy learning for ages 2-13. They have a 30 day free trial right now, whee!


Has some free resources, but is mostly a full curriculum homeschool site. They do have some good articles and resources, like how to know and work with your kids learning style. It’s a favorite of homeschoolers. All subjects, PreK-high school.

They have great web resources they send in a daily email for ages 5-high school. I have found some great resources through them over the years. They also have archives if you want to go find some resources. All subjects, some neat FREE stuff.

The Bible App for Kids

If you don’t already know about The Bible App for Kids, it’s lovely. And they have Bible reading plans so your kids can do a daily devotional. Lots of little Bible story videos, too.

There are also a bunch of celebs reading books to kids via video on Instagram @savewithstories. They are great! This is a good time to have grandparents or a favorite babysitter video call your kid and read to them, too. 

Educational sites for older kids, mostly

IXL (math, language arts, some science and social studies)

Some FREE content that is great! Prek-high school. This is a good one for keeping skills fresh and some daily practice. Well-organized! The link will take you to the family learning hub with up to 3 weeks of learning for the second half of the school year. Love this resource. Online and app.

Academic Earth

Similar to Khan Academy, but for older high school level kids as it’s aimed at college-aged folks. It’s a bunch of free online video courses from major universities. So many cool subjects and courses!

Khan Academy

Ah, yes, the Big Kahuna of online learning. Every subject, every age. (even an app for ages 2-7). Pretty much whatever you or your kid might want to learn about.

The Bible Project

I don’t mean to brag, but I just finished the read-in-a-year plan for the New Testament, Psalms and Proverbs. Sure, I started it in January 2019, but still. Anywhoo, I used The Bible App and they had these little videos before each book of the Bible and they were SO GOOD. It puts things in a historical context and my teen daughter actually recommended this site to you all. Because we’re nerdy like that. Good for older kids and adults. And Bible nerds everywhere.

How to keep ‘em edutained

(Giving you a fighting chance to get that report thing done your boss wants.)

Okay, now you can go on Pinterest. Look for activities like ‘rainy day with kids’ or ‘backyard science’ or ‘cabin fever games’. You could hit some specific homeschool activities, too, like ‘4th grade STEM homeschool’. Please set a timer when you go on Pinterest. Tie a rope around your waist and have one of those people trapped at home with you drag you out in 30 minutes if you don’t resurface by yourself. Take a cookie. Thin Mint?

(Also, here is an article a friend wrote about some activities to do with kids like legos and nature walks. Lots of great stuff for cabin fever!)

There really are a ton of activities for babies, toddlers, preschoolers and early elementary kids on Pinterest and elsewhere. So, I am going to concentrate on some resources for families with school-aged kids and teens, though some are certainly applicable for littles.

Oh, and on a final Pinterest note, if you’re kids are a little bit older, here are my tips on how to have Pinterest work FOR YOU. It involves NOT YOU getting on Pinterest. Hee.

Here are ways to keep our kids entertained so you can work from home

TedTalks / TedEd

I could happily watch these for the rest of the pandemic. The TedEd site is specifically aimed at students and educators, so the content is appropriate for school-aged kids. Your older kids might like some of the videos on the main site, too. But, ya know, parental discretion. Tip: put it on the tv in the living room instead of a phone or computer. It just feels less like your kid is staring at screens all day when it’s on the tv.

Yippee tv

Silly, fun, clean show for younger kids. Safe to put on autoplay so you can make dinner.


Fun science videos of answers to the ‘why?’ questions kids ask. They have a sister site they recently started, Crash Course Kids that right now has 5th grade science videos on it that look super awesome.


For older kids, fun, edutaining content.


So, pretty much everything except science and math. Fascinating ~15 min videos on lots and lots and lots of topics.

Being all stuck at home is a good time for older kids/teens to practice or learn a new skill. Piano, guitar, ukulele, singing, dancing, drawing. Lots of good online resources. Here are some my teens recommend:

Andy Guitar

Great for beginning guitarists! He also has a YouTube channel with free content.

The Ukulele Teacher

Really good teacher, all free on YouTube.

Dr. Dan’s Voice Essentials

Solid vocal training on YouTube.

Have kids pick something they want to learn and have them set aside time each day to learn it. Or a different thing each day. Now is a great time to explore their interests. And yours! If they already take lessons in something, have them practice 10 minutes a day. Lots of teachers/studios are doing zoom/video teaching. Or, look online for about a million lessons like this on YouTube and such right now.

Guys. We can do this. And make it through with mental health intact. We can school and work from home during this at-home coronavirus thing.

Keeping everyone busy and on a routine of some kind can help mitigate the stress of uncertainty.

Make a list of things to do each day with your kids and see how they want to spend their time. Yes, playing video games is a valid choice! And there are lots of things for them to choose from. We’ve been doing a family meeting in the morning just to check in and see how everyone is doing, what they need to do that day. That’s been helpful.

Carve out play time. Carve out YOU time. Yes, it’s okay to take a long bubble bath at 3 in the afternoon.

Send the kids to bed on-time so you have evening time to finish up work or have some non-parenting, non-work time. Alternately, let your teens stay up late so they can have some time ‘alone’ in the house. Our oldest at-home teen requested this. She is an introvert and having us all together has been a bit stressful. So she stays up really late and I get up early to have the same quiet time.

And in the wise words of a meme I saw on Facebook, if all else fails, do this:

Feeling guilty about your kids watching too much tv?

Just mute it & put the subtitles on.


Now they’re reading.

Photo by JESHOOTS.COM on Unsplash

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