Those of us with school aged children have been lucky enough during quarantine to now also become their teachers. While there is something to be said for life lessons and teaching outside of school. It is different and a big stressor to add being your child’s only source of education, especially while dealing with a pandemic.
I, for one, never wanted to be an elementary school teacher. So, we will just be straight up about that right off the bat. Even when I was in school for social work, younger kids weren’t my forte. I love them and all, especially my own, but I do better with youth and teenagers. It’s just not what I’m good at. So, I might need to apologize to my kid’s later in life for being the reason they are behind in some educational areas. According to my 6 year old my twos look like sixes. I don’t think I will ever recover from that one, he reminds me daily. I’m trying though and it’s all actually been very educational for me. Which isn’t the point of homeschooling but at least one of us is learning.
I have come to learn, after frantically joining homeschooling facebook groups, that homeschooling isn’t what is happening here after all. That people who do normally homeschool or unschool have been thrown out of their routine and are struggling with daily life these days as well. This definitely quaranschooling.
Being the quarandean of my quaranschool has been a huge adjustment. Not just for me but for my kids as well. While my youngest little human is used to being home with me. He isn’t used to having his brother home all day and he isn’t used to having to join in with the schooling (although he is enjoying it and it’s good for him). They both aren’t used to me in this role, the stress, and the changes to daily life that has come with covid.
Honestly, we have been fairly fortunate during all of this. We are healthy minus my own health issues and we are coping well. I’ve also learned a lot about my oldest, his needs, and things that need to happen to ensure he does well in school and in life. I feel more connected to him now understanding this and seeing what he needs. I am noticing things I don’t even think his teachers of 3 years have. Which is not a reflection on them at all but rather the different circumstances we find ourselves in now.
I would say I have a newfound appreciation for my kid’s teachers but that isn’t true. I appreciate them as much as I ever have because, in truth, my kid is more well behaved at school than he is at home. I think it’s understandable though. Kids show how their feeling with their actions and behaviours. They can’t always communicate what is bothering them or even that something is bothering them at all. Me and our home are my kid’s safe place. They break down with me, they misbehave because they know they can. It’s normal, it’s healthy, and honestly, even though it is incredibly difficult it is a bit of a compliment. I’m glad that they can be vulnerable with me. I’m glad that they know my love is unconditional.
With that being said, and now that we are a good 7 weeks into quaranschooling now, I have some wisdom I can impart on you.
10 tips and tricks to getting through pandemic homeschooling:
1. Find a flow that works for you
Does your family do best on a strict schedule, a loose one, or none at all? I find that our day-to-day ends up being different and that works best for us. I can keep the kids entertained easier and keep the school work up if we change things up more often. Maybe your kiddos do better with a day totally planned out.
2. Don’t be too hard on yourself.
Things are stressful and this is new to you and to your kids. The world is kind of crazy right now. Do the best you can, it is absolutely good enough. No one expects you to come out of quaratine next level perfect. It isn’t happening. If they do expect that, they can go do it for themselves. Ain’t nobody got time for that, even when all we have is “time”.
3. Take care of yourself
This might be the most important tip of them all. You need to care for yourself. One thing I always tell myself, and others, is that you can’t give what you don’t have. In other words, and probably more commonly known as, “you can’t pour from an empty cup”. I know it is easier said than done when you can’t get a babysitter or have a moment to yourself these days but try. Do little things here and there to make your days easier. Things that make you happy and give you some peace of mind. Even if all you are doing is making sure you’re hydrated and getting enough sleep. That is awesome. Keep that up.
4. Sneak the education in
Kids don’t like to sit and learn? Take the opportunity to teach them practical things in life. Not only will they learn things they don’t usually in school that will set them for the rest of their lives but you can also work more school related education into daily life as well. Get kids to sort things out, count or read something for you, etc. Taking the opportunity to show kids how to do laundry, cook a meal, or clean something properly is also valuable life skill learning. You know how many grown people I’ve met that can’t cook a nutritious meal or don’t know how to work a washing machine? The number is too damn high.
5. Be open and honest
I think this is always the best policy but it doesn’t always come easily to us. During this time it is important that we recognize that our children know that something is wrong. That things aren’t normal or right. Explaining what is happening to them in an age-appropriate manner can help ease their stress. If you are able to openly talk about what is happening in the world and also how that makes them feel, I think you are on the right track. I try to do this with almost everything in life. Helping your kids understand what is going on can ease anxiety and stress from being completely in the dark.
6. Allow yourself and your kids time to breathe
Be patient. This is a stressful time for everyone. Everyone’s routine has been thrown off and there is an added stress of an unprecedented health pandemic going on. We are all doing our best. Homeschooling can be tough on the kiddos. If they need a break, or if you do, take one. No one is expecting the kids to be coming out of quarantine suddenly geniuses. Take breathers, take care of your mental health. Not every day has to be filled to the brim with school-related activities. What’s most important right now is taking care of yourself and your family. A couple of missed months of school isn’t something the kids can’t recover from, especially since it’s not just your kids. We are all in the same boat. Take a breather in the evenings, you need you time. If that means relaxing for half an hour with a glass of wine and a couple chapters of a book, then do it when you can.
7. Have fun
Learning doesn’t have to be boring. It doesn’t have to be sitting at a desk reading or being lectured at. Everyone has a way they learn best. What is yours? What’s your kid’s? Figure that out and go with it! Do you learn better by being more hands-on or maybe by singing songs? It’s an interesting way to look at learning and definitely worth the google. Break out some board games and teach your kids about strategic thinking. Play something math-based or even a good ol’ fashioned game of trivia. Learning while you have fun is the best way to do it. It doesn’t hurt that you’re also creating great memories together and bonding.
Take this any way you want. Experiment with how you do things, what works for you and your kids, or just go ahead and find out what happens when you mix Diet Coke and mentos and explain why. You’re not just going to know what to do and how it’s done best right out of the gate. There’s always a different way to do something. Adjust what you need to.
9. Keep Track
Storing school work, progress, observations, and notes is a great way to see what you’ve done and what needs to be done. It is helpful in seeing where your kids or you need improving and it is also great to show the school what’s been done for grades. I’ve found that keeping everything together in a binder, including printing out the lesson suggestions from his teachers, is what works best for us. It keeps everything organized and easy to access. At the beginning of the week, I print out what his teachers have posted, add it to the binder, make any notes I need to, add the school work in as it gets done, take pictures to show the teachers, keep in contact with them via email, and keep all his supplies in one safe place. It has made all of this much easier to work from that very simple system.
10, Include them, get their feedback
There is a reason all the stores you go to want you to fill out their feedback forms. They want to know where they can improve. What better way to figure it out than to go to the source, right? Ask your kiddo what they like, don’t like, how they are doing, what they think they need, etc. Get your little ones to help you help them. Have them come up with ideas to make their learning more fun and interesting. Like, when you get your tiny human to help with making dinner they are more likely to eat it.
Have any tips or tricks to getting through quaranschool? Let me know in the comments below!
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