As this is a challenging situation for so many parents – here are some tips for helping you order and manage what could be a longer time of home education.
This has been thrust upon everyone! Home schooling is a lifestyle choice so what you are doing is not exactly ‘home schooling’ but schooling at home, which is different! It is reasonable to take some time out during the upcoming summer holiday to prepare! That way you can take another run at it if the first months were a little overwhelming.
Gradually ease your way into it.
Think long term – your children will become adults who can read, write and look after themselves… ‘don’t sweat the small stuff’…what will they learn from what they are doing?
Remember to include fun – fun triggers happy hormones and happy children learn so much more – and are so much nicer to be around!
Talk to your children to explain this is not going to be the same as school but it is not a holiday because they are still needing to develop knowledge and skills.
If you are working at home, it can help to let the children know early on that you need to work and they mustn’t disturb you; brainstorm together what they can do on their own if, for some reason, they need to wait for you for a few minutes and when you will be available to help them with any work from school. The children will love to feel included and can be amazingly helpful when they understand what needs to happen and how important their contribution will be. All of this will teach them to be
thoughtful, creative and more responsible!
Make a schedule.
It can help keep stress down if you create a workable schedule. What you put on it is up to you and your children (it’s a good idea to include them, too)! It could include times for: ‘work’, ‘washing’, ‘exercise’, ‘play’, ‘helping’, ‘piano practise’, ‘eating’, ‘reading’, ‘electronics’, ‘sleeping’, ‘tv’ and
Tell them when ‘relax days’ will be (for working parents, this will be when you are free as well), the reason being, young brains love structure. They love to know what’s coming next – and when it is going to end! Another advantage is if they see ‘ipad’ on the schedule, it cuts down on negotiation!
Preparation is key.
Get resources together – pencils, pens, erasers, scissors etc. and put them into a central location (a large box? Cupboard? Drawer?) with someone in charge of checking everything is put back after use. This way, they don’t need to wander around looking for things when you are on a business call!
Leave a ‘family jigsaw’ out which anyone can do in spare moments or ‘if you have to wait’; or one of the lovely mindfulness colouring books with pens/pencils; some tracing; puzzle books; juggling balls; hula hoop; anything that can provide a ten minute independent break, at the same time encouraging the development of a skill – ask the children what they think should be included and what they plan to do if you are busy for a few minutes.
If they have work packs from school; it can be helpful to date the pages ahead of time so the children know what to do and when and where to file it ready to return to school when completed.
Have restful breaks as much you can.
Remember, these are unprecedented times; your children are building a platform for the future – what they learn at school is actually just a small part of that and it can be quickly caught up when they go back!
This might seem an odd thing to teach and to talk about because it is a very personal thing, but we all know that no matter how skilled or knowledgeable a person might be, their attitude may well be the deciding factor in their success, both personal and professional.
For children, too, attitude can be a powerful factor in whether or not they succeed. Their behaviour will reflect their attitudes and when these are negative, they can undermine progress and override common sense to compromise their future.
During the past year, several parents got in touch because they were tearing their hair out over teenage children who, at a critical stage in their education, were not or would not study and who were ‘deaf’ to all appeals from the parents. No amount of cajoling, threat or admonishment seemed ‘to work’ and the parents were exhausting themselves with argument, anxiety and frustration. The situation is not helped by the fact that, unfortunately, ‘teenagers’ regularly get very bad press and this reinforces the negativity and concern in parents so the situation can get to a point of stalemate, with everyone miserable and no one knowing how to move forward.
Breaking the deadlock.
Breaking the deadlock needs a fresh approach and it can seem ‘easy’ for an outsider to say this. However, when I was a very young teacher a head teacher I worked for gave me the following piece of great advice: never get into a confrontation with a child because you will always come off worst.
On the occasions where I have blundered into a confrontation – and it is easily done! – I have seen the same deadlock occur and had to struggle in myself to find the way out. This is the best of what I have found so far and even though each child is different, many of the processes we encounter
are the same.
Give it a clean slate. Take personal out of it.
In other words, take a deep breath, swallow your pride and indignation and make the decision to LISTEN to what your young person has to say without interrupting, judging or criticising.
Listen without looking for a solution
This means ignoring the sullen tone of voice and complaint that may come first – they are testing to see if you really want to help – or (from their point of view) – just want to control them and ‘start another argument’.
Let go of your conditions - no one said this would be easy!
Basically, be prepared to make the changes that will help. Adopt the mindset that this young person is trying to express a negative feeling and may not have the language to express it. They need to get the message that you recognise their struggle and are there to support them. Not control. Not tell them what to do. Just help.
Talk to them. Often they feel that they are talked AT rather than TO.
Recognise how they are feeling and if you are not sure – ASK! – they’re not really interested in ‘when I was your age’….they want someone to connect to them.
Be prepared to make changes.
Changes could be made in routine, in practical ways and even in yourself if it is necessary.
Adopting a positive attitude
We are ALL on a development journey of one kind or another and we are bound to encounter challenges if we are to grow. We know from experience attitudes can not only be chosen they can be changed but children and young people do not have enough experience and reference to be able to do this themselves. By adopting a positive attitude ourselves and behaving in the best of ‘human to human’, we are in a better place to lead them to change theirs while they learn.
This is a short extract from a series of writing about Attitude. If you want to learn more, you may join our upcoming webinar series: Effective tools that help you connect with children and manage their challenging behaviour.