Wednesday, April 22, 2020

10 tips on homeschooling and staying sane through it:

As much as I love time with my kids, I never ever thought I would have to home school.  Frankly, if anything, the last 5 weeks have taught me that teachers get much less credit than they deserve, and that I don't have nearly as much patience as I thought I did. My kids are 6 and 3, so this isn't a test of my memory or mathematics skills as much, as it is of my patience and ability to juggle their tasks and my own.

Many of us are in the same boat, I hear it's easier with older kids who don't need constant super vision - but I'm sure each age has it's own set of challenges that it comes with.

It's not been easy though, I've lost my patience way more times than I can count. My son tends to zone off and day dream and my daughter is a definite distraction because her work is colouring and painting and more fun. Regardless, as we approach our 6th week, I think I've developed some coping skills to atleast keep myself sane, as we get through the rest of time (however long that may be).

Below are some tips that I hope help you, as I know they have helped me.

For tips on social distancing with children, and keeping them busy during the same, click here.


10 tips on staying sane through home school:

1. Set a fixed start time:
This doesn't have to be unreasonably early, or as soon as the assignments come. It's easier to start as soon as you feel sane. So, we start at 10.45 every morning. It gives me some time to laze around the kids, and it gives the kids time to play before we dig in (and also keeps bedtime a little more relaxed, since let's be real here - bedtime is currently all over the place).
From @mommydiaries on Insta - how I feel by the end of the day



2. Set your own start time before hand, to review:
If you sit first and go through what's due (or what you have to print), the kids have less time to sit around and wait and be restless. So, I usually sit down 15 mins before the kids so that they are not getting jumpy and impatient before we even start.


3. Step away from some of the assignments:
This is a sanity suggestion - for you! I didn't do this initially and then I felt I was screaming the whole 3 hours. Now, I know that when he's copying out math or English, I'm better off sitting elsewhere and then making him rewrite what I need him to, than sitting next to him and getting frustrated if he's distracted, being untidy, or making errors while copying.


4. Don't helicopter:
Make sure you check the assignments before they (or you) submit, but try not to look over everything while it's happening. I realized that I was prompting him, instead of letting him get there, with my own impatience. So it's better for them to, if you step back. And they will call you as soon as they need you - a 1000 times, and even if they don't need you.


5. Divide and conquer:
Regardless of whether you are also a working mom, trying to juggle your own tasks and calls, or a stay at home mom, or even a home schooling mom - crisis schooling, which is really what this is - is a whole other ball game! So, ask your partners, husbands or whoever is around - to pitch in too. I'm only able to pass off one assignment a week, but even that, is a big help! Though I've recently decided that bedtime is no longer my responsibility, on days I have to home school - it makes me feel like a monster to be the only disciplinarian in the house (and I'm really not one, at all, so when I have to be, I hate it.)


6. When you're about to lose it, step back:
This one always leads to regret. And tears. And guilt. And your own tears sometimes too.  So before you yell, or scream or flip out, breathe, count to 10, and step back. I normally save my shower - for this point. Cause it does come, and it's okay to step back - and give them a break too. I step back, go for a shower, tell them to finish the assignment by the time I'm back (if it's something they can do alone), or have a dance party and jump around till I'm back.

7. Work at the pace that keeps you sane:
A lot of people like to break up the assignments and do it in bits through the day. I can't deal with having anything due, hanging over my head. So I prefer to get it all done in one sitting. So do my kids. Then they have the rest of the day free to plan the things they want to do (as do you).
Whichever way you chose to do it - it's fine. Do whatever works for you, and in which way it does.


8. Don't stress about perfection:
I made this mistake too. I erased and fretted and made him change every answer that wasn't right, and then explained and explained and got fried too. Don't let yourself get to that point - they do get it, but your their parent first, and teacher second, that is going to seep through somewhere. So are their vulnerabilities, and the fact that they know they can ask you to repeat yourself and they have spent every day since they were born, testing your limits. It's their birth right though, and it's how they learn where the limits are.  But seriously, this doesn't mean you let them turn in work that's crap, you do let them work to the best of their abilities, given the situation, and lower your bar too. You too, are learning how much they know, and what their academic strengths and weak points are, so adjust accordingly. (I for one, have made my peace with my son's handwriting and I'm trying not to pass on my OCD tendencies downward).


9.You don't have to do it all:
Seriously, there's enough pressure on us as moms and teachers, and many of us are cooking and cleaning and doing home chores too. It's okay if you realise you're not the best, most patient teacher. Your kid is going to cuddle you at bedtime and tell you how much they love you anyway. However, you may love yourself more when you're calmer - so step back when you have to but forgive yourself too. Whether we have internalised what's going on in the world or not - its a time with a lot of fear and uncertainty. We are crisis and pandemic home schooling. Not a normal situation. So make the most of it and cut yourself some much needed slack.


10. Play!
Allow them to play, like free play. Jump around, play with clips, paint, make a mess (clean it up after too of course), and just be kids. Try though to schedule in some unstructured time, because that's what they love the most (and it will also give you some downtime).


I hope this helps mama! It's a weird time we live in, but wishing you all love, and strength and a sprinkle of patience.

More to come, always
TKV


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