'Listen, Don't Lecture' and Other Homeschool Secrets

'Listen, Don't Lecture' and Other Homeschool Secrets

Julie RomeoJulie Romeo, creator of Fairy Tale Trials and an instructor at the Center for Talent Development

School of Education and Social Policy alumna Julie Romeo (MS89) often felt overwhelmed while homeschooling her children fifteen years ago. But she resisted the urge to quit.

And now that school buildings have closed due to the COVID-10 outbreak, she's with us to offer encouragement sprinkled with a little advice, based on her experience.

"It’s hard, and it’s worth it, whether you do this for a few weeks, months, or years," says Romeo, the creator of Fairy Tale Trials and an instructor for Northwestern's Center for Talent Development

Here are Romeo's 15 enrichment tips for elementary school age students: 



3. Don’t try to duplicate school. This is a unique and transformative opportunity to explore and experience learning personally and authentically. Expect to be surprised by joy, frustrated by limitation, excited by possibilities, and ready to quit, and then recommit. Try not to lose your sense of humor. One of the best things about it is that you become a student again, alongside your children. It’s awesomely humbling every hour of every day.

4. Ease into your teaching and learning routine. You don’t have to do every subject every day. Of course, you need to create some structure around learning time, free time, and meal times, but it shouldn’t be too rigid. 

5. Listen, don’t  lecture. You are not an expert, so don’t try to be. Drop into genuine inquiry with your children and explore together as humble learners.  There are so many resources at your fingertips.

6. Create a learning space in your home, and have fun making it. It can be as simple as a table with colorful and inviting school/art supplies, and a cozy reading corner. Encourage your whole family to get involved as much as possible.  Whole family. Whole learning. 

7. Read aloud as much as possible. It’s great for all ages. Have fun acting stuff out and playing with accents. We spent years acting out scenes from Jane Austen novels, Little House on the Prairie, Peter Pan, you name it. You don’t need to be an actor to play or role play. 

8. The world is your classroom, use it! Right now this means that COVID19 can be a big part of your curriculum.  Explore it fully, with age appropriate guidelines. Form chat groups about how social distancing is affecting all of us in positive and negative ways.  Is it bonding us or dividing us as a nation, as global citizens? What does it mean to be a global citizen? And, spring is around the corner so garden! The backyard garden makes a great classroom.

9. Connect with your colleagues (other families!).  Even though social distancing must be practiced, don’t isolate.  Develop enough trust so you can honestly share what's working and what isn’t. 

10. Take a break. Give it a rest. Watch a movie together. Watch three. It’s okay.  Ask for help and you will find it in neighbors, friends, and family members. You don’t need to carry the burden alone.

11. Make practical life part of your everyday curriculum.  Cooking,  cleaning, yard work, home repair.  It’s good for them and you. Help your kids help the family with whatever the needs are.  There are chores for every age group, and now they don’t have to wait until Saturday.

12. Encourage your older children to tutor their younger siblings.  It will benefit all. One of my favorite parts of homeschooling was cultivating this peer-tutoring among my children and their friends.  My oldest daughter became an excellent teacher/leader in this process. It’s pure magic, when it works. And, remember nothing works all the time. So...

13. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes...lots of mistakes ...and don’t focus on mistakes, move forward! 

14. Take lots of walks because walking is the BEST MEDICINE! And one more thing...


You can contact Romeo through her website fairytaletrials.com. She will be offering a two-week Fairy Tale Trials workshop for fifth and sixth graders beginning Tuesday, March 24. For more information or questions about homeschooling, call/text 973-493-6353 or email juliehromeo@gmail.com.

By Julie Romeo
Last Modified: 3/24/20