06 Apr Addressing the Challenges of Homeschooling
Many of us, without any previous training or experience, have now become the homeschool educators for our children. This is going to bring many challenges for us as parents and for our children and young people who are transitioning from school to home learning environments.
Some children will undoubtedly be enjoying the more relaxed, less demanding approach to learning and we need to let them work through this without developing negative habits too quickly. The longer we let these new habits go unaddressed, the harder they will be to rectify in the long term.
Many other children will be struggling with the change in momentum and so are trying to apply a familiar school-style model to their new educational day in order to eliminate feelings of pressure and anxiety. It is important that we recognise, listen to and learn the needs of our children during this time. Individual differences will start to appear. Some children will choose to get the work out of the way early on. Others may like an intermittent approach across the day. It is important to notice these preferences whilst also nudging different work approaches when we can, so that behaviours don’t become too rigid. Remember we need to get our children back into school when all this is over.
A real positive from all of this is that we can tailor our child’s new learning environment to match their best models of learning. Some children will enjoy learning in a physical way, e.g. maths circuits in the garden. Others will prefer practical practical hands-on learning such as baking or topic-based work. For many, by doing the learning with us will bring an additional magic as long as we allocate our time fully so that we avoid feelings of frustration.
We are all doing the best we can under these circumstances, and with additional life pressures too.
Don’t be too hard on yourselves; you are not alone.
Tips on addressing the challenges of homeschooling
- Be patient. Homeschool learning is going to take time for everyone to settle into. We know we need to do this but the routine may take time; just keep working towards your daily goals
- Nip negative habits in the bud as early as possible
- Involve the children and young people, who are at the heart of this, in setting up how each day will go. If we give them some ownership and control to develop learning timetables, they will be more likely to stick to them
- Be realistic. You are not going to be doing 5.5 hours (a full school day) of educational activities each day. Under the circumstances, between 2-4 hours depending on school age and you’ll be doing a good job
- Remember to make the day as fun as possible.
Our children aren’t getting the social opportunities they need, or the levels of play. We want our children to look back on this time as positively as we can
- Remind children of the reality of these circumstances.
This is when we can educate on different styles of a working day. Help them to understand that although we need elements of self-discipline, we can adapt to our learning styles too. If the learning is happening, we can be more flexible about when and how
- Look out for pressurised language. Children may start using more ‘should’ dialogues, ‘I should be doing maths now’, ‘I should be doing schoolwork all day’. Should makes us feel like we are a slave to our thoughts and that we have no choice. By changing shoulds to coulds, we feel like we have a greater sense of control not only of our thinking, but our behaviours too
- Communicate emotions throughout this time. If children can learn how to more accurately label what they feel during this situation (and they will feel many different emotions), they will leave the process with increased emotional intelligence, skills and greater self-regulation
- Be kind to yourself. This is a huge thing you are being asked to do. Remember, you are doing your best