Parents across the world right now have truly been thrown in at the deep end with continued school closures due to the coronavirus crisis – and the majority are having to try homeschooling for the first time. Of course, homeschooling has happened throughout every period of history by willing parents but it’s far from the norm for most; and with many parents still being expected to work from home alongside educating their children full time and run a household, it’s presenting a massive challenge.
Enforced homeschooling in this period of uncertainty and what feels like bad news every day, can be frustrating, overwhelming, and stressful, but there are coping methods you can try to ease the burden. Follow these useful tips to help you navigate homeschooling with self-confidence and even better, confident children, too.
Working out a timetable with your children can help set expectations for the day or week ahead and gives them a sense of control. Engaging in this way and setting goals helps build confidence in kids and ensures that everyone is clear on how, when and why they’re working. Don’t limit your timetable to just school work and virtual lessons – include snack breaks, exercise sessions and treats too to motivate them through the subjects and areas they enjoy the least.
Set Learning Goals
Having something to aim for is positive for everyone, and homeschooling offers the opportunity for children to really work toward a goal that they might not be able to achieve otherwise. Their learning goal could be toward an academic subject they already enjoy and are able to spend more time on when not confined to a traditional classroom, or toward a skill they don’t already have or wouldn’t be able to learn at school. Of course, each goal can be rewarded once achieved, so there’s reason to stick to them!
Outside of a normal school environment, learning may not function in the same way it does usually. There can be a real appetite to sit down for hours and just hammer through a full the day’s work first thing in the morning, so you’re able to do other (probably more ‘fun’) activities later on. This doesn’t aid productivity for most kids, so instead you could try working in small chunks and take regular breaks. Attention spans will rarely draw out for long periods of time at home so short, sharp bursts of work can allow more information to be gained and retained. If you can, try and socialise your children (virtually) as much as possible: break-times at school would usually see them interact with others, and their social skills need to be maintained if we want to keep a level of confidence in our kids moving forward.
Achievements should still be celebrated – both your children’s and your own. Mark the end of each school day with an activity or treat, ensure your weekends remain work-free (for your children, at least) and celebrate success where you see it. This helps to build motivation and confidence in kids; and delivers a little respite. In my home, we make sure to get the popcorn and board games out on a Friday night and we get out for some fresh air as it really perks us all up!
Create Some Family Values
Unfortunately, you may notice that as your children get frustrated with homeschooling, their self-talk becomes negative and they start to put themselves and their efforts. That’s no surprise, this is a difficult time for all. I noticed this with my own daughter who assumed she wasn’t good at things or just couldn’t ‘get’ what was being asked of her. She would say things like, ‘I’m not good at this…’ or ‘I can’t do that’. As a result, we sat down and came up with some Family Values that are now posted up on our kitchen wall for us to see every day. These include “I speak kindly to myself and others”, “Even when we fail, we still learn” and “Show love every day”. These values have worked to build confidence in my kids and to maintain a calm, collective household.
Give Yourself Some Credit
If you’re managing to get up every morning and still have happy, healthy kids – you’re doing an incredible job. Don’t lose sight of the overwhelming challenges you’re facing and mostly absolutely smashing. And if you need some days off or some time away from it all, take them. If it’s extra help that’s required, speak to your children’s teachers and they’ll be able to offer further support.
Stay strong, stay sane, stay in sync. Your now is not your forever, and we can get through this together.