Over the past few weeks as I have met with both children and parents making the transition to “home school,” there has definitely been a strong theme of feeling overwhelmed. In this blog I want to offer some ideas that will hopefully help both parents and children through the rest of the school year!
Find a balance between structure and flexibility.
Remember, when your children go to school they are used to recesses, special classes where they have a break from lecture and book work, lunch, and if they are older have at least have a few minutes between classes. Expecting them to sit down for several hours without some breaks will likely only cause more stress and frustration and extend the time even longer as their concentration will not be as good.
Try small breaks (5-10 minutes) once or twice every hour, and a longer break (20-30 minutes) for every 2 hours of work. During these breaks encourage physical activity, a healthy snack and drink which will promote better focus when it is time to sit back down.
2. Consider breaking down lesson plans.
Our children are likely not used to seeing a whole week of lesson plans in front of them (or even an entire day) when they are at school. For many children this is overwhelming, even if it is actually less work than they are used to.
Consider printing out lesson plans and covering up all but one section at a time for them to see.
Assist your child with writing down the steps they need to take to get through their assignments for the day in order to help them focus on one thing at a time.
3. Make sure you are asking for help.
Teachers want to be available to your children during this time, and they need to know when your child is struggling. Most teachers can be reached easily by email, messaging through Google classroom, Zoom meetings, or possibly even phone calls. Don’t hesitate to reach out!
As parents remember you are not expected to have all the answers or to “be” the teacher – you are there to support and facilitate communication between your child and teacher when needed.
4. Set boundaries around your time.
Many parents are still working in some capacity – whether at home or away from home. As best you can, allow yourself to “protect” a portion of your day to devote to your work, rather than trying to multi-task between home school and work. This tends to just cause more stress and frustration. Instead, having a portion of time dedicated to “just school” and another portion to “just work” will likely help you feel more focused and more productive when you do attempt to work.
5. Be Kind to Yourself!!!
Remember, this is new and different for most of us and no one expects you to be perfect!
You and your children are likely feeling increased stress, and possibly even anxiety. This makes it harder to remember and access our best coping skills. Try to allow extra “grace” in your home during this time for both yourself and your children, remembering that everyone is doing the best they can.
Finally, here are a couple of links to some great online videos for kids which include options for breaks for physical activity and breaks for relaxation and to re-set focus. Don’t hesitate as parents to participate along with your children – they really can help all of us!
www.gonoodle.com: (“Good Energy at Home” tab has both physical activity and relaxation/focusing exercises).
YouTube "Go Zen": These are great relaxation and mindfulness videos!
Please do not hesitate to call us if you need additional support!