Are you worried that your child is falling behind in their studies?

Are you panicking at being thrown into home schooling?

My friend, Sarah, is the calm one. She breezed through university, landed a perfect job and then the perfect husband shortly followed by three beautiful (and equally calm) children. I have never seen her with a hair out of place, lack of make-up and immaculately dressed. We spoke via video-chat two weeks into lockdown and my poor friend was in despair. She confided in me that she had not put a bra on for ten days; it was 2pm and she was still in her pyjamas with her hair half in, half out of a ponytail and a black smudge on her face! There was a lot of noise in the background. She looked like she had been crying and, to put it bluntly, her home was chaos! Sarah had lost control and any mistake that can be made in regard to home schooling…she was making.

If this sounds remotely familiar – please stop panicking. Before lockdown, the current estimate for children being home-schooled was around 60,000 and growing. Many parent’s and carers successfully home-school their children and you can too. The benefits are huge. It is proven that smaller class sizes are more effective in teaching and learning; therefore, home schooling your child has the benefits of more focussed learning and a clear potential for progress.

If your home schooling plans have meant your home has become somewhat of a war-zone, it is time to draw a line and make a fresh start.   Desmond Tutu once said that “there is only one way to eat an elephant: a bite at a time.” What he meant by this is that everything in life that seems daunting, overwhelming, and even impossible can be accomplished gradually; by taking on just a little at a time. 


All teacher’s plan, even if just a note in their diary. No teacher walks into a classroom unaware of the year group and the subject they are about to teach. Depending on your child’s age you can format a timetable based on the subjects they are currently learning in school (you may want to keep to the school timetable; although many are now two-weekly so you may want to tweak during home learning). Do not be scared to include subjects you feel you are unable to teach, such as languages.  If your child is studying French and you cannot speak it, you can still include a French lesson in their timetable; I will show you how this works later on. The key is to make sure both you and your child know exactly what lesson is happening and at what day and time – maintaining the scheduled days and times. Do not allow for interruptions whilst home-schooling (unless a real emergency of course) by making sure the phone is off, unnecessary electronics are away, and everyone is alert and ready.  Obviously, emergencies do happen, or you may have an urgent work issue that needs your immediate attention; in these incidences there are simple strategies that will ensure the situation does not become chaotic.


A strong morning start will make all the difference to the success of your day. Get up at the same time Monday-Friday and have a lie-in on the weekend in order to set out a clear difference between a structured workday and a day off. Start your lessons at 9am and make sure both “teacher and pupil” have showered, had breakfast, cleaned teeth and got dressed, ready to sit down and start school. Have a 15-minute ‘housekeeping lesson’ at 9am where you discuss the plan for the day. All equipment needed for today should be organised now for your child to complete their work – this is to ensure neither of you are constantly popping off to collect something. You must make sure that your child knows your plans too, for example, if you have an important hour-long work zoom meeting at 11am, make it clear that for that hour it is quiet time and they need to complete their work whilst respecting your needs. Lastly, stick to the timings of the lessons. It does not matter if the work is not finished, they can do it in their own time or at the beginning of the next lesson.


If your child has plenty of work from their school alongside video lessons they can watch, then you really do not need to do very much, instead the key here is to make sure you know exactly what they should be doing and when. There is nothing to stop you working alongside them or even attending a zoom meeting in another room whilst they do an hour of [insert subject here]. 

If you do need to plan your child’s lessons, follow the structure below and do not worry about teaching resources, there is plenty of support out there (I will discuss this later on). You have already established a timetable; keep to this and spend some time the night before planning the lessons.  It may take a little time initially but very soon you will become a lot quicker and adept at lesson planning. Your plans do not need to be more than a couple of sentences, the plan is simply to make life easier for you and your child.

Here is an example of what to do:

Lesson – History

Date and time – Monday from 9-11am

Topic – Edward VI and religious changes

Lesson objectives – to be able to explain religious changes during the reign of Edward VI; describe what sort of boy Edward was.

Plan – 0-10 minutes starter activity, 10-30 minutes comprehension task, 30-35 minutes label diagram, 35-50 minutes extended writing task, 50-55 go through answers to comprehension and labelling, 55-60 minutes re-cap lesson objectives.

And that is it.  This clearly tells you the plan for this lesson, share it with your child so they know what the objectives are; at the end of the lesson you will reflect on these. 


Any lesson you need to provide for your child will require resources. Mostly you will be provided with resources from your child’s school but if you do not have these then please do not despair, there are a huge range of websites where you can access both free and paid resources. Your school should have recommended and approved websites; or use Google to find everything you need to get you through the lesson hour. Just type into Google the subject topic and any learning objectives provided.  You will be looking for information sheets that go through the content needed, cloze exercises (missing word tasks), comprehension questions, extended answer questions, word searches, diagrams to label and keywords to learn, as a few examples.

Most websites providing free resources will require you to subscribe to their email. Please do not be put off by this; you will find it extremely useful to have a range of websites to fall back on, and by subscribing to an educational website you may find they have a free resource library which will come in especially useful. Information sheets with accompanying worksheets are great, lesson power points are readily available on websites like the TES and you can always pay for study guides. Study guides tend to work through a clear plan, intricately linked to the age group they are aimed at and that schools tend to teach the subject. If your child is older and working towards exams, go onto the exam board website and download past papers. For many subjects you will find YouTube videos that work through the answers, as well as answer booklets (again, on the exam board website). To get the benefit of this your child must complete the past exam paper first and then go through the answers. If you are unsure what exam board your child is with for certain subjects, email your child’s teacher and I am sure they will be happy to help.

When things go wrong (it happens to the best of us!)

Please do not panic, you should see this as an opportunity to help your child progress even more than they normally would. You will, however, need action plans up your sleeve to calmly navigate situations that usually create havoc in the calmest of classrooms. In the case of being interrupted; not having all the necessary resources, etc., – as long as you have a plan for these situations, you will find even the most chaotic disturbance will flow smoothly.

Wasps or other flying insects are guaranteed to create hysteria, with much screaming. You need a confirmed, agreed plan to deal with this. If a wasp appears, your child should immediately vacate the room to an agreed place, such as their bedroom, until you give them the all clear. No fuss and you stay managing your child instead of them managing you. Obviously if you do fear wasps, leave with your child, shut the door and wait for back up! 

Technology goes down – you will need a supply of printed off worksheets, cartoon strips, word searches, etc., to keep them going until it comes back on.

Urgent phone calls, postmen with issues, neighbourly interruptions; these can all be dealt with by discussing how these interruptions will work with your child in advance. If your attention is diverted and they are either stuck on a question or have finished their work they should have some pre-arranged, extended work or activity to complete until you return. 

In addition to the above tips you should always have a few reading books, posters to label and/or colouring readily available for your child to access.

With these tips and tricks, you do not need to lose control when you feel like you may have!

If you follow my tips on how to successfully home school, you will get through this crisis calmly and add clear benefit to your child’s education.