Elizabeth Dlugi, M.P.S.
Feeling overwhelmed trying to homeschool your child while also trying to balance other responsibilities? You are not alone. Adjusting to remote learning can be challenging for both caregivers and children. Here are some tips to help both you and your child get through the school day:
Start with a Schedule and Routine
Develop a routine, write it down, and place it where everyone can see it. Try to include work, class activities, breaks, as well as meals and other daily activities (e.g., waking up). You can even incorporate teaching opportunities that would not otherwise be possible if your child were at school (e.g., teach your child how to bake their favorite dessert). Creating a schedule can be fun for your child too! You can let your child decorate the schedule and help plan for the next day. Try to plan and review the schedule with your child the night before. This will give them some autonomy, will let them know what to expect the next day, and will help provide structure and security during these uncertain times.
When creating a schedule, it’s okay to be flexible! Sometimes we have long to-do lists and may feel as if we cannot accomplish everything in one day. That’s okay! To help, try to separate your activities in the schedule. You can label activities that must be completed as “Must Dos” and other activities as “Optional.” Labeling activities this way can help ensure that mandatory activities are attended to and completed, and giving some leeway to activities that do not NEED to be completed that day. This can help take some pressure off from both you and your child, showing you that it is okay if you do not complete EVERYTHING on your to-do list.
Plan for 10-15-minute breaks throughout the day. Make breaks specific to your child’s activity level and interests. For instance, if your child is very active, have a dance party in your living room or run around outside. On the other hand, if your child is calm and socially reserved, let them engage in arts and crafts or other solitary, quiet activities. Keep track of what works and what doesn’t work.
Plan a break BEFORE your child loses focus and feels tired. If you notice your child starts to fidget after 45 minutes of class, plan a break earlier, to help your child refocus on the task at hand.
Be sure to plan a break for yourself too!
When planning breaks, get your child involved! You can sit down with your child at the end of the day, and plan what you will do during your breaks the next day. This will not only make the breaks more enjoyable for you and your child (as they will have something to look forward to), but will also give your child a sense of control during these uncertain times.
Give Learning a Place in the Home
Select an area where your child can work throughout the day. Have necessary materials located in this area, to allow your child to independently get the materials they need, just like in a classroom!
Check in with Your Child and Yourself
Learning from a computer can be exhausting and stressful. Children might have trouble expressing how they are feeling. You can use an emotion thermometer or feeling cards (e.g., sad, irritated, happy, burnt out, on a scale of 0-10) to see how they’re feeling throughout the day. If they are feeling particularly drained that day, adjust the day by scheduling in an extra break.
Don’t forget to check in with yourself too!
This is a new and challenging world that we live in. Don’t forget to be kind to yourself, and connect with other parents and support systems (e.g., friends and family)!
Try to remember…
Don’t expect perfection from yourself or your child. Remember to be flexible, avoid criticizing or judging yourself, and show yourself some self-compassion. Remote learning is new, unfamiliar, and stressful. I hope these tips can help make the day a little less stressful for you and your child!
Johns Hopkins School of Education: Institute for Education Policy. (2020, April 1). Parent Resource: Suddenly Homeschooling? A Parent’s Survival Guide to Schooling During COVID-19. Retrieved from https://edpolicy.education.jhu.edu/parent-resource-suddenly-homeschooling-a-parents-survival-guide-to-schooling-during-covid-19/
Quintessential Health. (2020, September 3). Establishing Structure and Routine in the Home for Virtual Learning – A Free Facebook Live Session . Retrieved from https://www.facebook.com/QHealthOnline