The COVID-19 pandemic has created a shift in the family system, as many parents find themselves wearing the hat of a homeschool teacher in addition to working from home and maintaining their household responsibilities.
While this extra time spent together offers bonding opportunities, it also poses challenges for parents who need to manage their children’s learning, daily schedule, and the occasional meltdowns surrounding learning from home. Perhaps the most difficult part is that they are expected to do all of this amid the stress and uncertainty of the world around us.
Here are a few tips for braving through this challenging task while maintaining everyone’s sanity:
We’re all in this together
These are unusual, trying times when children and parents alike may feel overwhelmed and out of sorts. Maintain open communication, validate and normalize your child’s feelings, and remind them that you are there to support them.
Establish a daily routine
Creating a routine can provide structure and predictability during a time of uncertainty. Depending on your child’s age and developmental stage, you can use a visual schedule, set alarms, and help your child decorate their schedule or color each activity once it is completed.
Engaging teens in establishing their own routine and schedule can be empowering and help them regain a sense of control during this time. Bring out the colorful Sharpies and help them and encourage them to create a schedule to improve organizational skills.
Work it out
Staying physically active has many benefits for our physical and mental health and studies have shown that exercise can improve learning. Make sure to implement physical exercise in your child’s daily routine. Go on a walk, ride a bike, or attend a virtual fitness class. This could also be a great time to connect with your child.
Make it playful
Get your creative juices flowing, especially with younger children in particular. Play teacher and student and empower your child by having them play the teacher’s role and “teach” you their newly learned skills. Have your teen use a dry-erase board to make the learning process more engaging.
Develop a home-based 504 plan
Children with ADHD or anxiety may still benefit from accommodations that they normally receive at school, which you can implement at home. Create a quiet study area with few distractions. Have fidgets readily available (you can create a relaxation box with your child containing fidgets and sensory-based, soothing objects specifically for study time). Break up the tasks and offer short breaks in between studying.
Practice and model self-compassion
You will do yourself and your child a service by lowering your expectations and accepting the fact that you are both doing your best. While you may not be a trained educator, there is a great amount of learning that can take place at home outside of your child’s academic curriculum. Take this opportunity to teach your child self-regulation skills, which have been linked to academic success.
Take a deep breath, use calming self-talk out loud (“I am feeling overwhelmed, I need to take a ‘time-out’”), take a brief break and engage in a soothing activity. By doing so, you will model to your child that you can both bounce back and cope with this together.
If you would like a one-time, 30-minute consultation with one of JSSA’s mental health professionals, click here.