So You Want to Run a Slap Dash Homeschool in Your Basement

So you want to run a slap dash homeschool in your basement? Awesome. Come on in and tour my operation. I would ask you to take off your shoes, but that doesn’t even matter anymore! Just stay 6 feet away from me, and come see how we do homeschool these days. I think you’ll learn a lot.

What? Oh no, that’s OK. I actually AM dressed for daylight. This timeworn negligee is the exact Anthro-meets-Dig-and-Save look I am going for, and my old housecoat has tons of pockets for my state-approved “essential” items like alcohol, guns, and takeout croissants The pupils call it my new uniform. And that’s a pro-tip for you: uniforms are important at homeschool. Get up, put on something. Sense of community, routine, and all that stuff– especially important for the pending Hunger Games for sure.

You actually came at the perfect time because my quaranteens are still sleeping. They love it when I diffuse our favorite essential oils– bleach and rubbing alcohol—it’s so relaxing.

Oh that? No, that’s not a bottle of booze at 10 in the morning. No, no, no—that would be unseemly. For science last week, we learned how to make ether, and I just keep it there to take the edge off all those conference calls and the frogs. Yes, the frogs.

Oh, you aren’t doing dissection in at-home science. Well, that’s OK. I am sure your kids have plenty of time to prepare for the rescheduled AP tests, maybe sometime soon. Plus I didn’t want to brave the store before our mask-making unit in home ec, so they had some screen time with Julia on PBS and learned how to make cuisses de grenouilles. So, two-fer! That’s also their economics lesson.

Anyway, follow me. Down here, and watch your step. This homeschool is quite literally an underground operation.

Oh, right, I can’t believe I didn’t mention that. I have four children here: eighth grade, sixth grade, second grade, and first grade. Why do you ask? Oh, the screens. Well, yes. Currently we have 6 per child if you count all the Chromebooks, iPads, phones, TVs, etc.  Well, yes, now that you say it this does seem like a strange number. Especially since I still have to talk to them and not just on video chat. How many screens do you think it would take to completely replace all human interaction? I ask because Amazon is still shipping just about anything—except, you know, any sort of household essential– if you can wait a few days. Which is why I’m growing out my bangs now. Planning ahead is something we teach students in this school.

On that note, this area with the calculators and the W-2s is our little tax shelter. We like to start our day with math, and, as long as the IRS extended the deadline to July, I think the kids have plenty of time to memorize tax code and, um, I don’t know the vocabulary, itemize things? We cannot possibly deduct any more.

Another thing we like to focus on is literacy. So important in this era of fake news, isn’t it, dear? I agree completely. That’s why we have christened this little corner of the basement our meme machine. Each child spends a few hours every day scrolling my Facebook—especially mom groups– and Twitter feeds for inspiration, and then we churn out some outrageous infographics masquerading as fact to sell on the dark web or to news organizations. They’re learning Canva, becoming great negotiators, and getting a real feel for digital citizenship.

Art? Oh my, I don’t mean to laugh in your face, moist exhalations being what they are these days, but I am afraid all the window paint mosaics and driveway inspirational haiku in the world can’t save us from dystopia. That’s why we’ve been making worry dolls out of clogs of hair we pull from the shower drain to hide under our pillows and carry our worries. We’re up to six thousand four hundred and twenty-nine, but between you and me, we’re still a little worried– and still remarkably hairy.

We’ve also been forging a connection between movies and real life. We watched Apollo 13 and made rockets. We watched A League of Their Own and researched inequalities in women’s sports and Madonna songs. Yesterday, we capped off our Tiger King binge by buying a zoo and a puma. If that’s not synergy, I don’t know what is.

Oh, my. You have to leave so soon? But you’re going to miss biology. We’ve all been coughing in petri dishes for days, and today we are finally going to swap samples and see if we can make a vaccine– we don’t know how to sew.

Well, good luck to you! I hope this tour has inspired you to be the best homeschool teacher you can be. Oh, and be careful when you close the front door. My oldest is doing some work with explosives.

Sarah Jedd
Sarah Jedd has a Ph.D. in communication arts from the University of Wisconsin-Madison where she teaches and studies the rhetoric of Planned Parenthood. Sarah has 5 (F I V E) children: teens Harry and Jack, elementary schoolers Cooper and Dorothy, and sweet baby Minnie, born in August 2020. Sarah blogs about being a mom of many at and overshares on IG as @sarahjedd. Sarah, her husband, and their kids live in Verona with the world's laziest dog.


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