Schools are moving back to distance learning, to prevent the spread of COVID and keep children, families, and teachers safe, which means parents will be taking on more teaching duties at home. Here are a few tips to help families cope having their students home.
First, break up the day.
In school, days are broken into periods. Mimic that. Divide the day into study, movement, quiet time, and chores.
Stay active! YouTube has thousands of age-appropriate movement and exercise videos from Hip Hop to weight training. Think about adding an afternoon dance party or walk around the neighborhood to shake off the midday slump. The more exercise is part of a child’s day, the less restless they will be.
Add in quiet time. Set aside unstructured time when children can choose what to do – read, color, nap, or daydream. Schedule this time after lunch or to cover a zoom meeting. Allowing kids control over part of their day will balance all the things they don’t have control over.
Then, break up the week.
Most older students have different subjects each day. Break up younger students’ week by focusing on different things each day, then repeat the pattern. Maybe Tuesday is craft day, Wednesday is cooking, and Friday is for field trips. Repetition helps set expectations. Surprises are great, but most children crave consistency.
Have something to look forward to – a new video game, book, puzzle, or board game. Or get out – a trip to a park, zoo, beach, or wildlife refuge can break up the week and help the whole family deal with the negative impacts of isolation.
Don’t forget to break up who does what.
Parents working from home have double duty, balancing childcare with their jobs. Divide up who is the dedicated (for younger children) or on-call (for autonomous students) parent. Give your partner some uninterrupted time for work or self-care.
Plan for when things break.
Every preschool teacher will tell you, have a backup plan. When focus fades and tempers flare, have a go-to distraction. A favorite book, game, or video can calm the moment and let everyone take a breath.
Don’t break; be kind to yourself.
Adding “teaching” to the workload wasn’t something most parents envisioned. Remember, it is a learning experience for the whole family, mistakes will happen, and balls will drop. Learn from what did and didn’t work, then move on.
The Pandemic is putting stress on all aspects of our lives, but we need to do the best we can as we learn to live with it and keep ourselves and our communities safe.