Schooling by Tribe

Labor Day has come and gone and that means nearly all of the nation’s 13,000+ schools are now back in session. Whether your kids are enrolled in public or private schools, this year is gonna be different. Parents of school-aged kids will all be going on a journey they never imagined they would take. Some will enroll their kids in open schools and worry constantly. Some will school from home, making changes in their professions, working from home, going PT, flexing their hours to be at home, or even quitting their jobs to stay at home. Some will homeschool. It is, to a great degree, uncharted territory for kids, parents, and teachers.

I had the great pleasure last month to do some voice over work for the National Council for the Social Studies (NCSS), recording 3rd grade lessons. It was a lot of fun. This month, I’m helping out my grandson, Brodie, who is 4 and starting pre-school. His parents decided to homeschool him due to concerns about Covid-19 and the resources available in their school district. Homeschooling is a lot of work. Homeschooling parents and students don’t have the support systems of a school district or the teachers which have been working all summer to redesign their curriculum onto a virtual platform .

The choices that go into homeschooling start with learning about and understanding educational philosophies and figuring out what will work best for your kids. Then, there is the decision on what curriculum to use and which online learning websites can help. Brodie is lucky. His mom is a curious researcher at heart, so I know she did her homework and looked at a lot of options. His uncle is an early childhood teacher so he can help with questions about the curriculum. His grandpa is a retired middle-school science teacher. Both grandmas are artists. His uncle is a musician, and he has an aunt who is a whiz at math and making it make sense to the non-math-inclined. For my part, I’m going to put my audio book narration skills to good use and record chapter a day readings from the Magic Tree House series by Mary Pope Osborne. There are great teacher resources out there to go along with the readings.

Teaching by Tribe may not be possible for some. That’s okay. Just know that there are resources out there to help you. offers free worksheets and games, tagged by subject and grade level. offers homeschooling guides for preschool, including tools for lesson planning and a forum for parents. offers parent reviews of online curriculums and resources so you can hear firsthand feedback before you spend any money or start down a challenging path.

NASA STEM offers science “missions” and games by grade level to inspire, engage, and educate your kids.

PBS Wisconsin offers a personal favorite of mine – Native American studies. If you’re not located in Wisconsin, you can still access their shows online at or streaming on Amazon or iTunes.

The best piece of advice I can offer any parent, homeschooling or teaching from home, is to gather a circle of friends who can help you, listen to you, troubleshoot with you, and support you. Remember, learning can be fun. This year, it’s likely to be a bit crazy at the start.

Support the students. Support the teachers. And stay safe!

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: