Whether by choice or necessity, millions of parents have suddenly been thrown into the unknown world of homeschooling. And, for parents who work full-time or part-time, the idea of balancing it all can seem a little daunting, if not impossible. Even though this new experience will be challenging, it can also be memorable and rewarding for you and your child/children if you’re armed with the right resources and determination.
Below, we have some tips on how to navigate this new phase of your child’s education. Take note: you may need to use more patience and flexibility, plus find ways to be creative, and even use humor. With a few deep breaths and plenty of preparation, we are sure you will be able to turn this unexpected new way of life into a fun and productive adventure.
Try to keep up with a set schedule every day, almost as if they were actually attending a physical school. This helps your child get into a routine not too far from their normal one. Try to start at the same times, take breaks/recess, lunch, and end around the same time, too. This may differ from a virtual classroom, where their teacher will be dictating all of these breaks and activities for them. Regardless, habits take about two weeks to form, so don’t stress out too much if it’s a bit overwhelming at first.
The key to success when it comes to homeschooling, much like working from home, is to create a dedicated and organized work space. It doesn’t have to be perfect, it just has to work. Adjust to your child’s individual needs by removing distractions, adding some creative flair like string lights and posters, or simply changing up the scenery once in a while. You’ll want a space that is out of the way but not too far from you, especially for your younger ones who may need help more frequently. Try to set their space up away from high-activity areas or, if you have a smaller space, you can also create a divider (using blankets, shower curtains, etc.) to keep the focus on learning. Finally, remember to always keep their spaces free from distracting clutter as much as possible. As long as your child feels comfortable, engaged, and eager to learn, that’s a big win for you both.
Children and teens will have to get used to learning and working from home at a new pace, plus with the right attitude. Setting up their space is one thing, while limiting everything in sight that could be distracting is another. Trying to get anyone, especially children, to focus for long periods of time is difficult, but not impossible. During school hours, take away any phones, tablets, and games, unless something like a tablet or laptop is required by their curriculum. If this is the case, make sure it is kid-safe, turn on the parental controls, and sign in with a password only you know. This will all help your kids create a physical and mental space where they are ready to learn.
As tempting as it can be to tell your hardworking student to power through their work and save the fun and relaxation for later, overwhelming them with all their work all at once is not the right way to go. Try to remember that they’re not in an actual classroom for eight full hours, surrounded by their peers in a focused environment. Instead, schedule out an hour or two of work, followed by a break, then another few hours in the afternoon. Especially right at the beginning, it is important to give them breaks and set time limits so that they feel more in control of their learning environment so neither of you get frustrated. Use apps or timers to stay on track and set easy daily goals so you can both end the day feeling accomplished.
School is already challenging, but having to adjust to this new normal of unknowns and isolation can only make it harder. Working in your home, a place where your child can typically relax and feel at ease, will take some adjustments. But, with your help and these tips, your student will be on track for an unforgettable year. Remember to have patience and be flexible with your kids when it comes to taking breaks and setting expectations. Come up with a strategy that works for both of you, like video game, music, or art breaks, or even allowing them to do some of their work outside. Listen to their needs and make compromises when you can and keep in mind that, as long as you are both trying/doing your best, you deserve praise. Following these steps will help relieve stress, plus give you both more control over this new virtual education.