School closures have a lot of parents feeling overwhelmed and anxious. They are asking questions like, “How am I going to parent, continue to do my job either from home or in my workplace, and now teach my children? How do I create a work space for me as well as an effective learning environment for my kids? How can I help my kids maintain their current academic momentum and not hinder their progress simply because life has been thrown out of its normal rhythm?”
Whether moms and dads are continuing to work outside the home, or now working from home, the whole concept of home education is new to many of them. Here are some important tips for maintaining peace and productivity, for your children and for you.
- Remain calm.
You are not in this alone. Reach out to others whose experience and encouragement can empower you to see this season for what it is: an opportunity to invest in your children like never before. You don’t have to be an expert in any particular subject to foster a love of learning in your child. Peace, patience, and positivity can be powerful motivators.
Even if you’ve never done this sort of thing before, you can trust your instincts about what your child needs. No one knows your child like you do.
2. Home is where we live, love, and learn.
For many of us, home is not the academic classroom our children are used to occupying, but it is a place where growth, development and learning are fostered. Use the extra hours your children are home with you to your advantage. There is no need to run yourself ragged trying to replicate their normal school schedule. Feel free to switch up the days and timeframes of their typical school days. Inviting their opinions and ideas about how the days should be organized is one of the best ways to ignite enthusiasm for learning at home. Think cooperation, not control. If a Monday through Friday school schedule doesn’t fit right now, and different days will work better for your family during this time, embrace the change.
3. Discuss and set clear expectations together.
“The truth is that teamwork is at the heart of great achievement.” – John C. Maxwell
There is no need to try and figure out a new routine and rhythm all on your own. Call a family meeting and collaborate with your children. Find out what matters most to them. Let them help in differentiating this new adventure from their previous experience by choosing to create something new. Together, come up with a plan that works for every family member that includes focused learning time, helping out around the house, and periods of rest and relaxation so your children can reset before getting back to business.
Talk as a family unit about setting some new and different expectations, now that school is happening at home. No matter your child’s age or stage, the idea is to come up with and agree on a routine that works for everyone. Then give it a try, but hold everything with an open hand. This routine can and will need to change if it is not working for you and you find yourself frustrated or micromanaging everyone. If you have older students, ask them how you can best support them. Then step back, monitor, and motivate.
4. Settle into a slower pace.
The regular, fast-paced hustle and bustle of life looks a lot different these days, and families have had to downshift to get used to this new normal. This season is giving all of us the opportunity to connect, grow, and learn by spending more time together. As a family, celebrate and appreciate the blessing of a new and different pace of life.
Now that you don’t have to rush out the door to make it to school on time, your family might find that having a slightly later start time is actually more efficient. Could you use that extra hour before everyone gets up to do what is important for you? Quiet time, a Bible study, or a walk outside to enjoy nature are some great ways to steady yourself before the day begins and to fill your tank before you pour out for your family.
5. What we know of love begins at home.
Our home environments are much different than the school ones. Learning at home can remove a lot of the normal pressures and stress our children experience inside their normal classrooms, cafeterias, or playgrounds. Your students can find joy and freedom just by being at home, and you can show them how. Here are some ideas that will foster learning, and love, inside your home.
- Give your child the option to choose a work space that suits their personality and meets their learning needs. Nowhere is it written that students learn best sitting in desks with a teacher talking at the front of the room. Many children work better while standing, moving, or carrying out physical activities, rather than listening to a lecture or watching a demonstration. Reducing visual distractions or listening to music can also steady young minds that tend to wander.
- Enjoy the flexibility of catching up on your emails, phone calls and work obligations while your children learn and play on their own. Carving out time for reading, playing or drawing independently will help them flex their creative muscle and allow you to get your work done.
- Connect as a family by reading aloud together. If you have more than one child, have older children read to younger siblings. Besides the long list of literacy benefits like helping your student develop stronger vocabulary and building connections between the spoken and written word, reading aloud promotes bonding and strengthens the connection between family members.
- Get outside! There are a myriad of benefits from spending time outside in nature and not being holed up in your house taking care of business all day. Yes, the business is important, but our hearts and souls need to be taken care of as well and there is no better place to do this than outside enjoying Creation and the natural wonders of the world…together.
- Talk about the blessings you see each day. It’s so easy to focus on the negative aspects of our days instead of the mercies and possibilities that come with each new morning. There are so many beautiful and wonderful blessings that we can call out to keep a more consistent focus on gratitude during this time. Take every opportunity to steer your conversations with your kids toward hope. Make sure they know what a blessing they are to you, and encourage them to be a blessing to others.
If you need support and community as you navigate this new season of doing school at home with your children, be sure to check out Erin’s video series, The Heroic Homeschooler.
Erin Weidemann is the founder of Truth Becomes Her, a brand that equips moms and women with resources to help them step into their unique leadership roles. A sought-after education consultant, certified teacher, coach, and nationally-recognized speaker, Erin’s personal mission is to shift the conversation around feminine values from being beauty-driven, to a focus on inherent worth. An on-air personality for Air1 Radio, Erin delivers “59 Seconds of Hope” daily as well as hosts the Heroes for Her Podcast where she interviews positive female role models who are living out their passions in-line with their personal values.
Follow Erin Weidemann on Instagram: @erin.weidemann and Facebook: @ErinWeidemannOfficial