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How to Jump Start your Homeschool

Enjoy this video about how to jump start your homeschool from my YouTube channel. I hope you are staying home and staying well. If you prefer to just read the transcript, I am including it below.

(beginning transcript)

Whether you’re just looking to homeschool through the end of the year or looking into it as a more sustainable lifestyle here is how to get started quick.

Hi I’m Robyn Dolan, author of “The Working Parent’s Guide to Homeschooling.”

Available in eBook and paperback on Amazon or at your favorite retailer. Go to to get your copy today.

So, jumpstart your home school!

If you haven’t already, go ahead and take your spring break. Just take a few days or a couple of weeks to relax. Enjoy being home. Do some fun stuff before you jump into the frenzy of if you’re working from home or starting to homeschool. Lay around in your jammies, watch movies, play games. Complain about how slow the internet is because everybody’s home and you’re all on the same bandwidth. In the whole neighborhood. Let life unfold and discover your #stayathome routine. Then, when you’re ready go ahead and pick a couple hours daily for official homeschooling. And what I mean by official is if your school district has requirements or stuff that they sent you sent home with you or whatever, that they want done and turned in, use that time for that. Get that out of the way and then the real learning can begin.

Now we move on.

There are three basics to learning:

  • reading
  • writing
  • arithmetic

Yep, still applicable after all these years.


When your child can read they can learn anything they choose.


When your child can when your children can write they can process what they’ve learned and communicate clearly. Proper spelling, grammar, and structure contribute to clear communication.


When your child can do the four functions of arithmetic:

  • addition
  • subtraction
  • multiplication
  • division

they can keep track of their finances, build a house, cook, estimate medicine dosages, estimate the cost of travel and owning a vehicle, estimate their monthly budget, and estimate needed income for their desired lifestyle.

They can also advance in scientific pursuits and help discover a cure for the big “C”; insert desired disease here.

These three basics will give your children the skills they need to succeed in life. No matter what age or grade your child is in, this is where you start. Evaluate what level your child is at in each of these areas and then it’s time to look for materials.

While we are staying at home, the internet can be very helpful in providing resources for education. In my last video, I posted some free resources to help with various subjects in all grade levels. In this video, I’m going to cover resources to help with the big 3:

  • reading
  • writing
  • arithmetic

both online and off. For those of you who know families who do not have internet access, maybe you can pass on some of the information on offline resources. If they need help with ideas. I know that a lot of internet providers are temporarily offering free service to families with children who are out of school and need to make it through the next few weeks. I know in Southern California in my area, Spectrum is offering two free months right now, to children who are homebound who need school and that should take you nearly to the end of the school year.

Resources for reading

Books! Lots of households today are nearly devoid of books and I get so excited when I walk into a house or see a picture of somebody’s house where they have bookcases full of books because I’m a book geek. I may not read every book but I love having all the books. I don’t know what it is but I guess it’s my – never mind. I’m not going to go there. Okay, but if you have them, read them.

The dictionary, thesaurus, the Encyclopedia, you can read those and all manner of books. Well, maybe there’s some exceptions that you wouldn’t want your children to read but um, all manner of books can be used for education.

Libraries may be closed but stores like Walmart and Target that are open for groceries also carry a lot of books and school supplies and of course there’s Amazon and other online retailers. Hamilton Books, Barnes and Noble, etc.

Use your Kindle. I mean, I’m counting my Kindle here and I love it for books.

Also, online, a site and an app that you can get on your device is It may be dot org but overdrive offers library ebooks and audiobooks for free and all you need is your library card. So hopefully, if you have a library card, you may be able to get your library card online through your local library. I don’t know but through Overdrive, you can check out books just like a physical library but they’ll be ebooks or audiobooks.

A good book can supply your children with nearly every subject they need to cover. Reading, writing, penmanship, grammar, science, history, sometimes even math. Read along with them and you can pull these subjects out of the book and use them in their respective lessons.

Younger children can copy passages for copy work practice, with their handwriting practice, with keyboarding. Older children can write essays on topics from the book. If there’s a history aspect to it, you can delve deeper into that part of history. If there’s a science aspect to it, you can delve deeper into that part of science.

For an example I’ll use Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson books which deal with a lot of stuff from Greek history: the Greek gods, Greek culture, and you can also go into Aristotle for science, Pythagoras for math, Hippocrates for medicine and so that’s the sort of thing you can do with just a novel or what we call living books that are based on reality or have some aspect of reality that you can dive deeper into.

Writing resources

Paper and pencil, Microsoft Word, Google Docs, whatever works for you. As I said earlier, copy work is great for practice with writing and you can do that either with manual writing or with keyboarding.


Have children start keeping a daily journal as soon as they can write. It could be anything from a sentence for a young child, to a page for an older child and it doesn’t matter what they write in their journal.

Another thing you can do is essays. You can give them a topic or let them make up their own topic. Younger children can write 20 words or 50 words. Older children, high schoolers can write 500 words. You read them over, pick out some areas where they need improvement and explain it to them but let them do the corrections so they learn what they need to do. How to make it right. And after that, if they still don’t get it completely right, you don’t have to but you can, but you don’t have to just sit there and hash it out because tomorrow you’re gonna write another essay – they’re gonna write another essay and you’re gonna teach some more. So it’s an ongoing thing. It’s not perfect it right this second.

The Robinson Curriculum is a great resource for this type of teaching. They have a full curriculum for K through 12 and no, I’m not getting a kickback for this, it’s just we’ve used it, we like it, I recommend it. They’ve got hundreds of books of this type that you can use in this way that cover all these subjects. Including, they have their own grammar book. They have the dictionary, the encyclopedia, all on these 20 discs. And now you can access it online as well through their, well go to their website. It’s linked below and it tells you how to do it online if you don’t want to buy the CDs. You can print it out, you can do it online, keep it in folders on your computer, however you want to do it. It’s very flexible. It’s very economical. They even have the flashcard system for learning the four functions of arithmetic. So they’re great.

Resources for arithmetic

Don’t be intimidated by math, please! Okay, with math, basically the first thing you have to do is master the four operations:

  • addition
  • subtraction
  • multiplication
  • division

Until your child masters that, there’s no point in going in any further. So master the four operations. You can do that with daily practice with flashcards at whatever age and grade level your child is at. And then once they, you know, just really click with the addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division, then you go forward from there.

Saxon math books are a good way to go. Your school district probably has suggestions. Good old-fashioned flashcards: you can get them at the dollar store, you can get them at Walmart, you can get them online, you can make your own, whatever works for you. You can pay for them, get them for free.

For older and more advanced students, once they’ve mastered the four operations and are ready to proceed, Khan Academy is a great resource. And there are a number of other online teaching and tutoring sites. For free, for donations, for subscriptions, whatever. Whichever site you like the best. There’s Time4learning, there’s all kinds of them. I like Khan Academy. We’ve used it and my son liked it so it’s a great resource for math lessons of all levels especially, especially algebra and on up to calculus. It’s also a great resource for science lessons. Physics, chemistry, from primary grades to high school and on up.

Do not underestimate the value of play in learning!

Legos, board games, card games, these all have mathematical, scientific, and fun value and you learn better when you are having fun and you enjoy what you’re learning.

Record keeping

Record keeping is an important part of homeschooling. For this series of videos, we’re just talking about the schools being closed and what you can do at home if you need to supplement what your school has sent you or if your school has sent you nothing. At this point, for that reason, I wouldn’t worry too much about the record-keeping, except that it would be a good idea to at least keep a running list of what you’re doing. Just because of the situation, so that if you need to produce a record of study, you can produce it. You can always, you know, make it more detailed if you need to do that.

Including videos and photos is a good idea. For now I would do just that. Get a notebook or staple some papers together and write down your school and write down your school activities. Make a note of what pictures and videos you took and where they are. What file on the computer they’re in or if you printed them out. Keep all the physical work, the writings, the reading, note the books that were read or used, movies watched, discussions taken part in, experiments. Keep all the physical stuff together and that’s it. If you decide to homeschool on on a longer term basis you can set up a better record-keeping system but for now you can just put all that stuff in a box. Put all this in a file on the computer and make sure you know where they are and you’ll have it if you need to pull it up and write up a report for a school official.

There are guidelines for record-keeping and resources for record-keeping tons of more resources for the big 3: reading, writing, and arithmetic, online and offline, in my book, “The Working Parent’s Guide to Homeschooling.”

I hope you enjoyed this video. There is so much more to homeschooling but my intent here was just to give you a few ideas to get you through the next couple months while the schools are closed and we are all trying to stay home to flatten the curve. Take advantage of the links below for further resources. And please like, subscribe, and share this video with all your friends and family. Every little bit helps.

Become a patron on Patreon for as little as one dollar a month, for exclusive content and updates on my current works in progress. Click on the link below for my Patreon page.

Thanks so much for stopping by.

(end of transcript)

Links mentioned in this video:

Overdrive for library books –

Hamilton books for discount books –

Khan academy –

Robinson curriculum –

Patreon –

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