As we still see ourselves in a lockdown, not really knowing what the next step will entail, constantly living with uncertainty. A lot of this past year has been spent with the kids at home due to schools being shut, meaning that a lot of parents have had to adapt to having them at home full time, but also educating them. Whilst, it’s great to be able to spend time with your children, it can be quite stressful learning the process of homeschooling if you’ve never had to do it before. It can be difficult not really having that room to breathe, feel like you’re not doing enough or not doing it right. Not really knowing where to start, it’s safe to say that most of us throughout this lockdown has been pretty all over the place, it’s been hard.
But, it’s important to realise you’re not alone in how you feel, many parents are going through the exact same thing. Lockdown has taken its toll on everyone and it’s definitely caused a lot of stress and upset, with it taking a major hit on people’s mental health and people feeling like their minds are pretty crowded with many things going on. These times create these very anxious situations, we worry a lot, we worry for the future of our children and we worry that because they don’t have school that it will lack structure for them. However, the fact schools are closed is meaning more and more parents are having to adapt to the ways of homeschooling, without putting to much pressure on themselves or their children. Here are 5 tips to help you with your homeschooling journey, whilst making sure to take care of your mental health and have fun with your kids whilst you educate them.
1) Have a schedule
Now, with lockdown, it’s definitely true that most of us have kind of let go of a schedule because we just feel like we’re doing the same thing every single day. But, having one is so beneficial, not just to help you, but your child too and it means that you can feel less stressed. Set up a schedule, it doesn’t have to be complicated, it doesn’t have to make you anxious when you read it. Maybe, do it with your child, grab the colouring pens and decorate your schedule and stick it on the fridge. Jot down what you want to do on certain days, maybe a little bit about what you will cover, always schedule breaks in between sessions to help you breathe and keep your child-focused. Don’t feel forced to start and finish at a certain time, you take your time, do what’s best for you, if you feel it works better in the morning, do it then. If you feel it works best in the afternoon do it then. Don’t put pressure on yourself to be perfect, it’s not fair on you.
By setting the schedule from the get-go, it will help you tremendously, it will also give your child a bit more of an insight into what they will be doing for them on certain days. So, for five days you do work and have the weekends off, schedule something fun in for that weekend. We all know that our lives in general function is so much better when we have a routine that works for us. Just go with the flow, schedules make us more efficient, they create a structure in our lives, it saves time, instils good habits, breaks bad ones, helps us become more proficient, it helps us get more done, it prioritises things and reduces procrastination. Being able to adapt to a schedule, will mean that you will be able to schedule what you need to do without it being a stressful situation, schedules are fantastic and something that will benefit you massively, remember it doesn’t have to be overwhelming.
2) Don’t be hard on yourself
This one is so important, at the moment it’s so easy to be hard on yourself, so easy to put the blame on yourself, to feel like a failure. We end up piling so much pressure on ourselves with the expectations of what the future looks like for your children. But, when schools are taking away from you and you’re having to do what teachers would do yourself, it can put quite a lot of pressure on yourself. Because you might be worried that you’re not doing enough or you’re getting very upset or stressed about the situation. But, you must stop thinking that you must do lots of work and achieve everything in a day because you don’t. Somedays, won’t go to plan and some you’ll have the best ones, this is just life and it’s important that if you’re struggling you don’t just face it alone, talk to someone, be kind to yourself.
We all have lives, we all have different commitments to others, some of you may have younger children or you’ve got to work from home, meaning you can’t put that many hours in, that’s ok! It’s vital that you realise, you’re doing your best and that’s enough, even if you feel like it’s not. You’re trying to do something you wouldn’t do normally and having to schedule in that time, sometimes it will work and sometimes it won’t. Just make sure, that whilst this is all going on that you schedule some self-care into your routine, just giving yourself some time to just breathe, have a nice bubble bath, watch your favourite movie, catch up on your sleep, just doing something for you. It’s important to realise, you’re not alone in this, a lot of parents are in the same boat and are most likely facing the same kind of struggles, don’t be so hard on yourself, you’re doing the best you can and that’s enough.
3) Make it fun
Children will most likely tend to cooperate more if there is some fun involved in the lessons themselves. It doesn’t always have to be long hours that are boring which easily loses the child’s focus. So, perhaps schedule into your routine, some cooking classes, or some art classes or even perhaps PE sessions. Make it fun, do some baking with your child, make something delicious. Do some DIY, paint, colouring or even just go for a walk in nature, play some football, something that gets your hearts pumping and then burning off the energy they have. At the end of the day, it’s still education, it’s just in a fun way that they will enjoy massively and it’s a nice change. Of course, you still have to do the key lessons, like maths, English, science etc so that is important that you do cover them, but make them exciting too. For maths, you could use fake money to do some money counting, buy a timetable sheet that you can write on and decorate, there are so many ways you can make it more interesting.
For English, perhaps get them to read their favourite book, get them to tell you about it, ask them questions about it, then get them to write a little paragraph about why they like it. For science, you could perhaps do your own projects, like creating the solar system or putting skittles onto a plate and running water over them so they create a rainbow. There are so many ways you can create activities that your child will love and that you will enjoy doing. Also, show interest in the lessons you’re doing, get excited when you’re doing it and praise them when they get it right. If you don’t particularly like the subject you’re teaching, try and switch it up a bit and make it more fun, so you can enjoy it. It’s important not to let the fact you dislike something get your child’s attention, because that, in turn, will discourage them. You don’t have to know everything, you just have to make it fun and be there for them if they need your help.
Here are some more brilliant ideas for activities.
4) Find a good school life/balance
This can be something that may be seen as quite difficult, especially as the homeschooling situation can take up most of the day and the week. But, something that is important is that you allow yourself and your child to have some kind of school and life balance, to be able to cover the subjects but to be able to enjoy life too. It can help to actually do the homeschooling side in a different room, perhaps a study or a dining room something like that. Rather than a living room, because that is normally what a child would see as a place to relax. Schedule in proper breaks, so you can perhaps have a cup of coffee or tea and your child could go outside for a little bit of fresh air and have a drink and snack to ensure that they or you don’t suffer from burn out.
It’s also important that your child doesn’t miss out on socialising, even though schools are shut which makes it a lot more difficult. But, there are always phones meaning you can call them or perhaps video call, have a chat, play games together etc. It could even be that on Facebook if you find a homeschooling group that you meet others that are doing the same and you can socialise with other parents and your child can socialise with other children in a safe environment. Just make sure to still live a little, don’t let the thought of having to educate your children to take over your life completely, you need to be able to have that balance. Don’t feel guilty for having a day off if you really need it, or for having an extra hour in bed, take your time, don’t feel like you have to perfect.
5) Get support
Don’t ever suffer alone, don’t feel silly for reaching out for help when it comes to homeschooling, no one said it was going to be easy. You may see some parents be fine with it, but some struggle and that’s totally ok. Don’t feel like you have to hide how you’re feeling, or bottle anything up because it will take a massive toll on your mental health and you might not even notice it. More and more parents have had to turn to homeschool, due to current circumstances, we don’t know how long this will last so it’s important that if you feel it’s taking a major negative impact on your mental and physical health that you reach out. Talk to your family members, your friends, or even join some groups on Facebook, there are plenty of parents who are going through it and are most likely looking for advice. They might provide homeschooling tips or certain resources to help you.
It allows you to join a ton of families on their homeschooling journey, who may be experiencing the same challenges as you’re. Having a friendly listener, or someone that you live with that can maybe do one day and you alternate between the two of you or someone in your bubble to help out, just so you’re not putting too much pressure on yourself. Just remember to reach out if you need help, there will always be someone out there who is willing to help you. If you feel that you might need to speak to a professional, perhaps your child’s teacher would be a good contact, or if you need to a counsellor to give you some advice. To make sure that you’re not neglecting your mental health and taking care of it and your physical health also.
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