It’s a trying time, no doubt about it. Changing your work place or worse, losing your job while taking on a second job as home educator/enforcer can drive even the best of us bonkers. I have to say the teachers in our school system have done a incredible job adapting under the most last minute and dire of circumstances. But it hasn’t been easy, especially for parents caught in the middle of trying to make money while keeping their kids on track. As we’ve made it through whatever number week this is since it all started (I’ve lost count), here is a list of 5 ways I’ve found to make schooling at home a better experience for everyone.
1. Establish Rules and Display Them – We are all stressed during these difficult times. But we must remember to treat each other with kindness and respect, continue using manners, and try to stay positive. One easy theme that we developed throughout our household is being helpful. When speaking to each other or when doing things around the house, it’s always important to think about your actions and put them through the “is this helpful” test. Smarting off to your family members is not helpful. Leaving your dishes out is not helpful to others. And of course when your wife calls you out for breaking the rules, screaming at her THAT’S NOT HELPFUL…is not helpful. We give our son a frowny face if he breaks a rule and three frowny faces in a day loses him his earned activities after school
2. Develop a Schedule and Display It – Structure is important for kids. One of the biggest challenges we faced with our son was the constant battle over what school activities we should be completing and in what order. Having it all written down on a schedule in front of him completely eliminated the constant questioning of what we should be completing next. It also minimized his complaining about never ending school when he could see the end point on the schedule and know how far along he is for the day.
3. Add Fun Extra Curricular Activities to the School Schedule – Since the schools have closed, kids have lost the fun and monotony-breaking activities normally included in between their school work. On top of that, they now have to stare at a computer the whole time for activities that didn’t require so at school. We added a few extras to our schedule that made such a difference in our son’s attitude. These include: free writing/drawing session, rotating media/music session depending on day which also includes fun online music games, four laps around the house (just like real P.E.) or bike ride with mommy, and a hands on science activity that we try and do every day. For some of our science activities, we’ve dug a whole to learn about soil and things living in the soil, we examined and learned about different types of metal found around our house, and did a science experiment learning about one of Newton’s laws of motion.
4. Keep Earned Activities as Rewards for Good Attitude and Hard Work – Earned activities are the fun things kids get to do when they follow the rules and work hard. These include playing video games, eating dessert after a healthy meal, watching TV, and so forth. Using these activities as rewards for after a successful school day INSTEAD of letting children do them before school or without earning them, will result in a much better attitude, harder work ethic, and an appreciation for those activities and what it took to earn them.
5. Take Breaks and Gather Yourself – These are very stressful times and difficult situations not only for adults but for our kids as well. It’s important that we take care of ourselves and make decisions with a calm head not clouded by heightened emotions. Same with our children. If you or your child’s emotions or stress levels are high, take a break to calm down and refocus. I talked about this several times in my 2nd book Entitle Me Not as this is such an important activity to remember. Too many people make bad decisions and have poor performance because their emotions are clouding their judgement and common sense. Taking a break also helps refill my patience meter, which has been strained beyond belief given the circumstances.
I hope this list helps you and your family with these incredible challenges we are all facing. Please subscribe to my blog if you haven’t already. Remember to alway keep trying your best and that our community is here for you. Just reach out! Good luck parents and God Bless!!