The adjustment from an on-the-go lifestyle – including full-time jobs, shuffling kids to and from school, extracurriculars, play dates and weekend adventures – to a now slow paced lifestyle at home, has been quite an adjustment. Parents have been faced with many new adjustments, tasks and roles. With one specific new task of TEACHER. First of all, let me just give a HUGE shout out to all those teachers out there! Y’all are saints! I am so happy you are finally getting the recognition you have long deserved. Now, back to it, school at home is something teachers have been trying to figure out how to maneuver and parents are trying to figure out how to survive.
Here are 9 survival tips to help endure school at home:
1. Mindset shift.
Acknowledge the idea that at least for now this is reality and you have to help homeschool your kids. Try to come to a place of acceptance with the idea.Think about the positives (think hard if you have to). Remember this change is not a forever (unless you want it to be) change. The way we think about things, creates the way we feel about things, which also determines the way we act about things. One day we will look back on this and have lots to say & remember. Right now, our job is to help our kids in the best ways we can.
2. Make a schedule for the kids and for yourself.
Making a schedule from the time you wake up in the morning to the time your head hits the pillow at night will help minimize the chaos. Kids are used to a set schedule at school, so make one for them at home.Set time for school, time for playing, time for screens, time for chores and a time for whatever else you need them to get done during the day. Let your kids help you create the schedule. If they are invested in the creation, they are more likely to follow it. Set up a schedule for yourself as well. Set a time to work if you are still trying to do that from home, and set a time to relax (you know you need it!)
3. Take breaks and do school in small increments.
Consider how long your child can focus and only do school for that length of time. Divide school into small increments based on how long your child can focus. In my house, we do school a little in the morning and a little in the afternoon, and reading before bed. Think about what works best for you and your kids.
4. Have realistic expectations.
Think about the amount of school work your child is capable of doing in a given day. Not what your expectation is, but rather, what your child is capable of doing. Try not to push beyond that expectation. Document your reasons for the expectation and communicate with your child’s teacher.
5. Reward your kids.
Think about the hard parts of their day and reward your kids for getting through those tough spots. Again, involve your kids in this decision. See what they want to earn (obviously within reason). These rewards do not have to be monetary, so set that expectation up front.
6. Positive reinforcement & Praise
Stress = negative feelings = negative reinforcement. Instead, acknowledge the added stress up front and acknowledge your kids have added stress too. Then, try to focus more on the good behavior and outcomes. Positively reinforce the good behavior and good decisions. It could be something simple as “Thank you for working so hard, you did a great job.” or “I really like how you are sitting quietly and getting your work done.” or “Wow, that was really hard for you but you did it, great work!”
7. Spend time doing things together BESIDES school.
With so much time at home, we can all find some time during the day to spend engaging in fun things with our kids. Click HERE for a list of fun activities you can do at home. Ask your kids what their favorites are and make it a priority to do those things. Try not to let school be the sole focus of your day and interactions with your kids. Think about what your kids will remember about this time when they are older.
8. Relax & Breathe
Really, do it. Take time each day to relax, even if it is just 10-15 minutes. Take deep breaths all day and teach your kids to do the same, especially when frustrated. Maybe include some yoga into your daily routine. COSMIC KIDS is a fun yoga channel for kids. Breathing and relaxing calms you down and helps your ability to handle stress more efficiently.
9. Ask for help.
Ask for help from your significant other. Team work with school work reduces the stress on one parent. Ask a friend how they are managing. Ask the teacher for tips. It is not often that many of us are all facing the same problems. Reach out and ask for help because more than likely someone else is struggling with the same thing. Lastly, reach out to a professional if you feel like you need someone else to talk to. We are also here to support everyone during these less than ideal times. We are offering a special program for qualifying recipients in regards to COVID19. Click HERE for more information.
What has worked for your family? Let us know.
– Alyssa Buchanan, MSW, LCSW
Alyssa is a licensed clinical social worker with over 13 years of experience as a psychotherapist working with kids, teens and their adults. Alyssa also owns Skylight Counseling Services, a group practice in West Melbourne, Florida.