We have been unexpectedly hit by a reality in which we, the parents, have become the (kindergarten) teachers of our children; whether we wanted it or not. For some parents who have been homeschooling their kids for years, this was not a major shock. They know exactly what needs to be done. However, the majority of parents have found themselves in this situation for the first time in their lives; therefore, they may feel insecure and worried.
The most important thing for you parents is to know that you are not alone!
So, how can we make homeschooling work for both children and parents?
Let’s have a look.
Establish a daily routine. A schedule that works for your family is a key to harmonic relationships at home. For some, this will mean studying from the early morning, while others prefer a morning workout first, followed by breakfast and then doing schoolwork in the late morning hours. Try implementing a repetitive daily rhythm that will help establish a routine where you spend some time together, but also take time for yourselves, which is something every family member needs.
It is highly recommended that you have a separate room for schoolwork and one for play – if that is an option. After parents (who are now their brand new teachers) assign children the schoolwork, the latter are left in their rooms with all sorts of toys and iPads which have a demotivating effect. Kids find it hard to do schoolwork instead of playing with their toys. One of the possible solutions is studying in a common room (without any toys or gadgets) or a room where there are no distractions. The other is taking electronic devices and toys away from them and letting them know this is only for the time when they need to concentrate on school (during the day). You need to keep this promise and return the toys to them when they finish their assignments. Imagine having a dessert or your favourite bad habit in front of your eyes all day long while you are working. And imagine resisting the urge. It is better not to be tempted, isn’t it?
Understand the child’s rhythm or their will to do schoolwork. We all have days when we are more efficient, but there are also days when we cannot do much. Therefore, it is important we understand that this is something happening to children as well. One day they will be highly efficient and able to do all the assignments and even study, but another they will be tired and not able to sit at the desk for hours. This can be solved by going out for fresh air that children need to clear their minds and to be able to concentrate on the work. Moreover, some children cannot sit at the desk for too long. Let them revise the study material standing up, lying or moving around the house if that is what they need.
If there are more children in the household and all require homeschooling, make sure to make time for each one of them. One-on-one learning enables personal contact and faster learning when compared to learning at school. Additionally, parents can get an insight into their child’s thoughts and interest in the study material. They can adapt the learning material to the child’s pace and enable them to discover new knowledge on their own initiative.
And then when you thing you’ve got everything covered … you find out that you need to juggle working from home AND your child’s schoolwork!
Once again, you are not alone in this. The best thing would be to adjust your schedule if possible. If parents can be flexible in their working hours, that is even better (working in the afternoon, evening or turn-taking with your partner). When children complete their school assignments we can expect them to play on their own. This is the time when we are able to work without interruptions. And this is the way to finish all the assignments and tasks in time, and have peaceful evenings.
If your work requires a lot of your attention, then you can allow your children to have more of what they like (and what you usually don’t allow) and tell them you need to work but that you will play/hang out/have fun together later. Don’t forget to keep your promise and reward your child with time together. In this way, they will be able to understand that you need to work and respect the peace and quiet you need for your work, all the while waiting for your full attention.
Homeschooling in the current situation has been given a greater role than just teaching our children maths, science, languages, etc. It has provided us with the opportunity to teach our children how to think ethically – to think about the community and about what is good for us as a community and the entire population, and not to dwell on our egoistic thoughts. Avoid talking only about the things we are not allowed to do (you cannot visit your friend; we cannot visit our grandma; we cannot go to the shop just to get ice-cream) but try focusing on all the things we can do. Let’s focus on the gratitude to all those who enable the society to go on, and let’s be grateful that digitalization enables our children to be homeschooled in the first place.