It’s beginning to feel as though we’re seeing a glimmer of light at the end of the pandemic tunnel and we’re beginning to focus on what the “new normal” will look like. It’s been a stressful near-two-years for students, teachers and parents and we’re all hoping we’ve learned valuable lessons from the giant home school experiment circumstances pushed us into.
It’s likely that no single group has learned more than parents of K to12 school aged children. Left to simultaneously fill the jobs of home schoolteacher, parent, and often work-from-home employee, K to 12 parents have had the opportunity to learn much from the stress of trying to do more than was usually heaped on their plates.
So we decided to do some research and pull some Lessons Learned out of the cyber-universe for homeschool parents. The ideas we chose to highlight came mostly from parents and are intended to apply to either getting through the remaining school-at-home experience or to use directly because you have decided to permanently move your children home to school.
We’ve listed the lessons learned we discovered into helpful subject categories. (NOTE: At the end of this article, you’ll find more great information in a section titled ‘SOURCES” where we provide the primary links to information shared with you in this space.)
- If you’ve been stressed and feeling guilty because you’ve been disciplining your kids more frequently during school closure events, try to chill out. When you’re less stressed, you’ll also be less authoritarian!
- School closures have had a negative impact on many parent-child relations. You’re not alone.
- Studies show that parent-child relationships suffered during school shutdowns whether kids were doing schoolwork every day, or they were doing no schoolwork at all. It’s not just you – it was hard for everyone to keep family relationships healthy.
- If you’re working a fulltime job at home, have a serious discussion with your kids about the fact they must stick with their schedule just as you must stick with your work schedule.
- Schedule “office hours” so your children know when they can expect to get help from you. Insist that they do not bang on your office door or barge in when office hours are not in session. (I know! Easier said than done!)
PAY ATTENTION AND STAY INTERESTED
- Make an effort to get excited about what you’re teaching your kids.
- Show an interest in what your kids are studying even if it’s a topic that doesn’t fascinate you.
- Try not to say “I’m not good at math” or “English was my worst subject.” Your kids like to think you know how to do everything – if they realize you can’t do it, they might think they can’t either.
- Take the time to plan ahead. This will help you feel more in control during those times when being a teacher along with everything else you do, just feels like too much.
- Avoid getting stressed out by unexpected events. Even the best planners are sometimes surprised by real events.
SCHEDULING CLASSROOM TIME
- Remember that an online class schedule will probably not look like a typical school day.
- Schedule in a regular time for lunch. If you’re working from home, eat lunch with your children.
- Break learning modules into smaller, time-manageable chunks. Children’s concentration span is shorter online than during regular school classes.
- Don’t make the mistake of making your kids spend all their time studying and learning. They need to play and socialize on an everyday basis.
- Plan regular breaks. Play time, breaks and snacks should be part of your school day. If you can, take your regular work breaks and spend the time with your kids.
- Remember – being with others is the key to happiness, for both you and your children.
- Unless you’re lucky enough to have a home with some dedicated learning space, you’re going to have to learn to function in shared spaces for office, lessons, play and eating. Make a plan that suggests who sits where and/or who uses which part of the table. Involve the kids in making the plan. Sounds silly, but it’s good to avoid the “mom! He’s sitting in my chair” argument.
- Although perhaps not always possible, make sure your child has a school workplace that is NOT in their bedroom. They need to have a place to go after “school is out.” They also need a relaxing place to sleep, not a place that’s filled with the stress of online school and schoolwork.
- As psychologists pointed out at the beginning of “lockdown learning,” in order to cope with the demands of being a homeschooling parent, it is important to find ways of handling personal stress.”
- “A total of 323 parents completed a quantitative online survey between May 1 and July 24, 2020. We found that although most parents reported feeling stressed, some had used effective coping mechanisms, which improved their wellbeing. Those who were the most stressed reported not enjoying homeschooling their children and felt insecure about how to do it.” (See TheConversation.com in SOURCES, below.)
- Try to put things in perspective. If we spend too much time thinking about how terrible homeschooling is, we’ll be more stressed. It’s true – things could be worse!
- Keep reminding yourself, and your children, that “this, too, shall pass.”
- It’s important to create a regular daily routine so your children know what to expect.
- Remain flexible. Be willing to adjust if a structure is not working.
Above all else – stay positive! Homeschooling is your chance to learn more about your kids. Use this time to focus on your student and the individual ways he or she learns. And prioritize taking care of yourself. If you’re stressed, you won’t be able to cope with the demands of homeschooling.
And, finally, if nothing else works and your kids are still unruly and negative about homeschooling – remember, you can always resort to bribery!!
SOURCES: MORE GREAT INFORMATION