5 Tips To Help You Survive Home Education
For a lot of parents, the thought of homeschooling is stressful, but because of circumstances beyond your control, you’ve been thrown in the deep end and are now considering the new challenges it presents.
Even though my decision to homeschool was one of choice, I know how it feels to navigate the uncharted waters, and am here to share a few tips from the last nearly 9 years of teaching from home.
Homeschooling five children since my eldest was 5 years of age (almost about to turn 14) has resulted in many lessons being learned. And because no 2 days are ever the same, I trust these simple tips (from the school of hard knocks) will help things be a little more smooth sailing as you transition to learning at home.
My first piece of advice is to not hold expectations that things will go 100% as planned at all times. Kids are kids, and things will happen throughout the day that you won’t be prepared for. This is not always a bad thing, because it can lead to new opportunities to reflect on possible changes that will create better outcomes moving forward.
Being adaptable is essential, and beating yourself up never leads to anything productive. So give yourself some grace, because you don’t have to keep a full ‘school day’, from 8:30 am – 3:00 pm, in order to help your child keep progressing with their learning.
I have found one of the biggest contributors to how the day turns out, is how I show up as a parent. Feelings of anxiety, worry, anger or frustration can have an influence on the children. As silly as it sounds, the energy I exhibit has an impact. And thankfully, this can be controlled before the kids even arise.
My best days seem to occur when I get up before the kids are awake. Which means I can have a little bit of time to myself. Being able to grab a moment in a quiet house, before the craziness of home life gets underway, ensures I’ve had the opportunity to collect my thoughts and choose what to focus on. Reading something uplifting, journaling, praying or practising gratitude, are all examples of how to get your day started in a positive frame of mind.
I’m sure if you’re anything like me, figuring out how to dissolve disagreements is a daily occurrence. Whether you’re playing referee while siblings clash….or butting heads with a particular child because you’re trying to balance between being both parent and teacher…diffusing arguments early, before it escalates out of control, seems to be my best strategy for maintaining a reasonably productive environment.
Splitting the kids up for ‘quiet’ time helps the child who needs their own space, necessary opportunity to recharge. Whereas pausing your math lesson for some trampoline time, is a great way to release a build-up in frustration of the overactive child before either of you explodes.
Trial and error is the order of the day, and what works well this week may have to be tweaked the next. But what I’ve found most useful is setting the timer on the oven, to indicate it’s time to separate, with the sound of the alarm signalling we can come back together. You may have to reset the alarm more than once in an effort to mould the behaviour you’re after, but it’s one approach that has worked particularly well with my tribe.
I have found it most helpful to remind myself that as a family, we are made up of people with different personality types. Some of us love to be around people 24/7, while others prefer to have time in their own company. And having children who easily become drained when constantly surrounded by noise means ensuring they have enough time on their own.
The same goes for you. As a parent, you have to be mindful that for your own mental wellbeing, you have time to take time to recharge your batteries. Even if it’s only for short bursts at a time. Sit with a coffee in the sun; read a book for 15 min; put on your favourite music and shut your eyes; or go walking barefoot on the grass while the kids eat their lunch…whatever it takes to press the reset button and begin the next phase of your day.
Take time to remind yourself that you’re doing a good job. And that it’s ok to adapt your approach as you go. Mistakes will be made both by you, and your kids. And if you take them as a learning opportunity you will more quickly find what works best for your family.
Your children will remember the time in their life where you made the effort to help them with their education, so give yourself some breathing room by avoiding the temptation to believe everything has to be perfect.
Until the time comes for them to return to the classroom, be confident knowing that when you have your child’s best interests at heart, you can’t really go wrong. And in the process may even come to consider homeschooling as a new way of life.
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