As a mum and teacher, caught up in the home-school-work-whirlwind, I know first-hand the pressures of parenting through lockdown. There is so much that we can’t control at the moment, but we can control our corner of the world – our home.
I wanted my children to have a really positive experience of home-schooling, so I set out to find the perfect recipe for learning at home. Now I want to share it with you.
My children are 3, 5 and 7. Every day brings new challenges and I aim to meet their wide-ranging needs, wants and likes. I always try to listen to them, to know what makes them tick and what triggers make them feel overwhelmed.
Every family has a unique set of circumstances. What works for my family may not work for yours, but I hope the following tips help you to negotiate the pressures of home-schooling and offer wellbeing ideas so that you can thrive as a family.
1. Create a calm workspace for your child
Ensure it is clear and toy-free so there are fewer distractions. This will help your child to differentiate between work time and play time. At the end of the working session, clear work away into a box until next time. This way, they won’t feel like school jobs are looming.
If your child wiggles and fidgets, that’s ok! When children sit for long periods of time, energy can build up in their body. Help by giving them something to hold and opportunities to stand up and move their arms and legs. Check out my blog Let them fidget here.
2. Break-up work into manageable chunks and celebrate small wins
Typically, the time a young child can concentrate is their age + 1 (so a 5 year old might concentrate for 6 minutes). Help your child by doing short sessions of work and integrating play into their learning. Look at what needs to be learnt, plan it into smaller sections (i.e. read, plan, write) and make these activities as engaging as possible. Recognise when they have achieved each step and offer praise, focussing on the effort (I can see you…persevered/ solved a problem etc) and not the outcome.
3. Look and listen for their cues
If your child is apprehensive, resistant or upset about home-schooling they will probably let you know through their words and body language. Children learn when they are enjoying themselves so pushing your child beyond this point is counterproductive. Instead, think about how your child learns and what interests them, and switch-out ‘work’ for practical learning-through-play! We have created a bank of play-based activities, which are free to download. Many of these cards will allow you to leave your child to investigate their learning while you get on with your day job!
4. Self-care for everyone
Self-care is more than just a bubble bath and an early night. It is a conscious decision to do things that will help you to rest, recuperate and re-fill your cup. A person’s ideal self-care treat will be unique to them. Next time you are together as a family, find out what self-care activities would help each person to feel good. Write them down and work as a team to ensure everyone has their self-care moment that day. Check out our self-care idea cards here.
5. What does 'switching off' look like for you?
Switch off… another pearl of wisdom that looks different to us all. For some people, simply putting their phone away for an hour is enough to reset; for others, the process of switching ON a screen and having a movie afternoon, complete with blanket and popcorn is enough of a wind-down treat. This is the perfect time to reconnect with your family.
Mindfulness is so much more than simply sitting in a quiet space, focussing on your breathing. To be mindful encompasses your senses, emotions, and the world around you. Simply put…slow down and focus on the present. You might just realise that you are experiencing a truly wonderful moment in your family’s life. Check out our tried and tested simple mindfulness activities and games to support your child to increase calm and reduce anxiety.
I wrote this with love for all the children, mums, dads, grandparents and carers out there who are doing their absolute best to make their little people happy. If you would like to chat, please get in touch.