A pushy newcomer by the name of ‘HomeSchooling’ has thrust its way to the top of your To Do List – where do you start?
Our world today creates a milestone in this generation’s academic career – the first time children in Australia have been faced with school closures due to health concerns relating to a pandemic. For many students this will be met with cheers and a carefree assumption this may be the beginning of a delightfully long six-month holiday. For others, there will be great uncertainty and confusion to add to their current level of increased anxiety that we are already seeing in our younger populations. For others, their concerns lie in the effectiveness of what their school will be offering in distance education and how that will translate to proper learning that will take them to their Year 12 graduation exams.
For many parents, it is especially troubling amid concerns for their own work requirements, job prospects, needing to pay bills, buying the essentials and considerations for grandparents.
Taking priority over all of these issues is the high necessity to negotiate and execute the all important health protocols now in place, and for an exceptionally good reason.
Now a pushy newcomer by the name of ‘Homeschooling’ has thrust its way to the top of the To Do List on the fridge.
This newcomer has appeared miraculously in full colour as a whole day activity on our digital timetables. Parents will be even more likely to be overwhelmed, frustrated and thinking of reaching for the quickest solution. A solution just to get through an already crowded day with no respect for social distance in our calendars: back–to-back is what we see, and this is adding to our anxiety.
Many will wonder how on earth they are going to manage even Day One of homeschooling– let alone for an indefinite period.
Take hope – putting in the effort to establish a routine at the start of this period will pay handsome dividends and save you and your children’s sanity.
Safety. Routine. Structure.
Followed closely by: Parental Guidance. Follow-up. Lots of hugs. Lots of checking in.
Routine is imperative for any child of any age to support their sense of feeling safe. Feeling safe is a prerequisite to learning. No one can function well when we do not feel safe in a setting that does not offer security, routine or structure. As adults we may think we can function by fudging a bit, or even a lot, but we are not optimising our potential if we feel unsafe. Our anxiety leaks out and manifests in some way. Children are even more attuned to this, despite what we may think. They pick up on our anxiety and they respond with their own anxiety and behaviours.
Put the effort in at the start, even if that means sacrificing a little of your own work time, so that children can be guided to soon be more independent and allow you more time to do your work.
Time spent now will be well rewarded for you and your family.
Here are some steps to get you and your children off on a solid footing.
Remind children they are safe at home with you. Let children know you are safe, and you are protecting them by following the increased hygiene rules of behaviour like frequent washing of hands and social distancing. Even though this may sound basic, remember, feeling safe is a prerequisite to learning.
This is an essential element to keep in mind. We certainly cannot learn when we do not feel safe. From a neuroscience perspective, the part of the brain that determines our flight, flight or freeze response, the amygdala, once charged makes it very difficult to learn, particularly what we may want our children to learn.
This is a time to set aside an area in your home dedicated to a quiet, distraction- free working place. It does not have to be large or fancy, but a space kept for study and activities such as the end of a kitchen table, a space in a play room. Some people have repurposed a small table, chair or space to create a spot for their child. Organise a space preferably somewhere where you have line-of-sight with what your child is doing either in an activity or on their devices. If you have older children, take their mobile phones away during their daily homeschool period. You are wanting to eliminate distractions.
You may like to have an area for break time with craft, books and other materials for play. And you may like to cut yourself some slack here by not expecting this area to look like a show home.
Start strongly to provide that sense of security.
Designing a routine on Day One for your child who may now be at home from their regular day at school is essential, whether their time at home is driven by a school closure or self-quarantine or your choice. Start well – and plan to keep your resolve to ensure your child does not suffer academically during this time.
Your child will be looking to you to see how you maintain your own routine and your discipline, especially at this time. Your modelling is observed and felt by your child. Let that lesson from you be a purposeful as you can, being aware of your influence especially when we think we can’t be seen.
Parents are not teachers. Parents require assistance. Parents can show vulnerability. Parents often ask me for professional guidance to support their child at home and this is always a joy for me getting to know a family and offer tailored assistance.
The tips I have shared in this article form part of what I support parents to do. Do they always find it easy – not necessarily. But anything worthwhile is worth the effort and surely the continuation of your child’s education amid our global situation is worth this effort.
With consistency of effort, routine and maintaining of standards, results occur.
This article is Part 1 of the “The HomeSchooling How to Series” with BRAIN WHISPERER ™ Jill Sweatman