As you may or may not know, we are a full-time home educating family – it’s what works best for Miss PPP and we’re in our second year of this style of learning. I still have a lot of friends and family who are mainstream schooling and are therefore having to do school online with their children right now. There is a consensus that, for a lot of parents and kids, this is just massively overwhelming, and a lot of really fantastic parents are beating themselves up for not facing every learning day with a smile and enthusiasm. Maybe it’s just time to say: ‘Give me a break – school at home is HARD!‘
Parents who are taking on the teaching role at the moment, not by choice but by necessity are all doing a fantastic job and you really do need to try and be easier on yourselves. Just remember, home is your child’s ‘safe space’; up until COVID-19, it was where they shrugged off the school day and slipped into ‘home mode’. This crisis has shoved them into a position where home and school have to occupy the same space, and for children who are not electively home educated* full time, that is confusing. Add to that the fact that schools are issuing the same amount of work that they would normally have and requiring them to be online for hours to complete it (again, not a natural way of learning for most kids), it’s exhausting for them and as a knock-on effect, for you too.
Our kids are living through the largest global catastrophe in living memory and that leaves a mark, psychologically and emotionally. They are seeing their parents stressed -about health, family and money; they are worrying about grandparents, they are missing their friends, extended family, sports, activities and their routines. All of this is something that schools ‘should’ be taking into account, but from speaking to parents I know who are mainstream schooling, that doesn’t always seem to be happening.
So, maybe if our kids are struggling to home ed, then now is the time to give them grace and space. Declare a mental health afternoon and blow off lessons in favour of hot chocolate, popcorn and a movie on the sofa – but let them know that you think they need a break. Let them see that YOU see how hard they’re trying and that you know they need a break, even if their school doesn’t. Claim a hero moment for yourself by showing them that how they FEEL is as important to you as how they LEARN. There is no harm in telling your child that this whole teaching malarky is hard for you too – not because they’re a bad student, but because teaching is a four-year degree job that you didn’t sign up for so you’re feeling out of your depth and overwhelmed too! This won’t be an everyday event, because school is important, but a break every now and then might make all the difference to how they feel about learning at home.
To be clear, no one is saying learning is not important, it is, critically so. That said, an overwhelmed and stressed brain retains nothing, so learning needs to proportional; it needs to work WITH the situation we find ourselves in, instead of trying to fit our situation to the learning. If you want to ensure your child is keeping up with academics but not necessarily doing everything the school sets, assign them a Lego-building project for maths, or challenge them to a game of Scrabble or hangman, make cakes, look up some quick science experiments like creating a volcano with baking soda and vinegar, let them run around outside in the backyard for ‘extended PE’ so they can burn off some frustration and energy – get them to measure the distance across the yard and have them work out how many reps it would take them to run a mile. If your child is Youtube crazy then ask them to come up with an idea for a video, or a channel – have them record a video to show you, let them choose the topic and give them a time limit…you may be surprised by what they come up with. When they do things that are not ‘school allocated’ write down what they’re doing, keep photo’s or videos of anything they create and if their school asks what they were doing instead of a class – show them!
Most importantly, create space for you to be you again because your mental and emotional wellbeing matters too. So let CBBC or Cbeebies teach for an hour while you get that cuppa, have that shower, make those phone calls, check those social feeds and reclaim a little bit of normal from this totally abnormal situation we find ourselves in. You can’t help build a little person if you’re falling apart from exhaustion and overwhelm yourself. Model self-care, because if there’s one lesson our kids need to learn right now, that one could be the most valuable.
Hang in there fabulous parentals, you’re smashing this! Xxx
See my Home Ed related posts here.
* This only matters because when you electively home ed, you get to choose how your child learns, or be guided by them with how they learn best.