Classical Education Tips for First-Time Homeschooling Parents

In just a few days our work at the Barney Charter School Initiative has changed dramatically. We had planned to visit our affiliated schools in Idaho and Texas, and to host a conference for school board members here on campus. But now we are turning our attention to helping the thousands of students, parents, and teachers who now find themselves wondering how to provide classical education remotely.

In the coming weeks Hillsdale College will be producing a whole host of resources for our affiliated classical schools and the general public, including special editions of our online courses, tutorials for parents who are figuring out how to handle a classical curriculum at home, and professional development videos for teachers who would like to use this time to hone their craft.

You can keep up with the latest at k12athome.hillsdale.edu, our Hillsdale College K-12 Classical Education Facebook page, and on Instagram. Remember, parents, strength rejoices in the challenge, and you can do this!


This is an important time for teachers and parents to work together. Back when I was running a school I saw that a close partnership and good communication between teacher and parent was essential for students’ success. This is especially important in classical education, because we are concerned not only with what a child learns, but who a child becomes as a result of his or her time at school.

Prof. Dan Coupland, the head of the education department here at Hillsdale College, has some good advice tips for parents and teachers alike.

  1. First, remind your children that they are living through history. In just a few days ordinary life has changed dramatically for people across our country and the world. This is a moment that people will be writing about when they tell the story of our country.
  2. This is a good opportunity to remember that education isn’t about jumping through hoops. Students may not be able to complete all of the worksheets teachers were going to assign them, and that’s okay. This is a chance to think about why we were going to give those assignments in the first place, and if there is another way for the same lesson to be taught. With states across the country canceling standardized tests, we have an opportunity to think about the purposes behind our students’ work and take a broader view.
  3. Keep things simple. Yes, there are a bunch of cool platforms out there that schools could be using to deliver lessons online, and some of them are very helpful in situations like this. But as teachers and parents we shouldn’t spend all of our time researching systems. Instead, think about the skills students already have, and keep things simple. Read, read, read, with your kids, and think more about what the students will be learning than how they will be learning it.
  4. Encourage organization and structure. Get some habits in place now that will serve you and your kids well in the future. Whether you have the whole day at home with your kids, or you have to juggle taking care of your family with work or other obligations, getting into a consistent schedule for the day as soon as you can will help.

Above all, whether you are a teacher or a parent, think about quality over quantity. Schooling at home doesn’t need to follow the same schedule as regular schooling. It’s better to do a few things well than try to replicate the schedule students are used to.


Stay tuned for more advice about how to continue classical education at home, including subject-specific advice from us at the Barney Charter School Initiative.

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