I get a panic attack every time I open up Facebook. Well-meaning parents post activity after activity to do with your kids at home.
Some take massive amounts of set up.
Others take enormous time.
Is this what I’m supposed to do when my kids are schooling from home? Is this my duty as a parent to set up these structured school days, intricate lessons and devote most of my waking hours to my kids’ education?
Nope. Flat out no.
I was a classroom teacher for many years before I started No Guilt Mom. While these activities being posted on the internet along with schedules and color-coded routines would work really well in the classroom – or say if you wanted to devote your career to homeschooling…
I don’t plan on implementing it. It’s unrealistic.
At this time of year, I had a well-oiled machine. My students transitioned seamlessly from activity to activity. We fit in grammar, math, social studies and science all scheduled to the hour.
Students sat working at their desks.
We got a lot done.
That took SIX weeks at the beginning of the school year to set up. SIX weeks of constant support from my fifth-grade team.
Six weeks of only being around my students for 6 hours a day.
Six weeks of figuring out each students’ academic strengths and learning how to teach them.
All the Facebook posts I see are looking at the wrong things.
They’re looking at the set schedule and the curriculum.
New teachers think that’s the most important component of a classroom, too.
I thought, “If only I followed a schedule, had amazing, engaging lesson plans and fun activities – then my students would be successful.”
Third-year teachers finally get it.
It’s not the activities. It’s the relationship you have with your students.
What determines the success of a classroom is that the kids know and trust you.
That’s how we teach. We show by example. Kids learn when they feel safe, loved and secure.
This is a stressful time.
If you are feeling the pressure of managing your own job from home as well as your child’s schoolwork..
Or if you’re struggling with the grief and stress of the world right now. It’s OK.
These are meant to lift a weight off your shoulders. I want your guilt to lift and also give a few practical tips to stay sane.
Here’s what to watch out for:
Mistake 1. Setting a time blocked schedule for your kids.
I’ve seen some pretty strict ones that have you changing subjects every hour.
10AM Math Lesson,
11AM Reading Lesson and so on.
That’s stressful to see as a parent who’s also trying to work from home.
Plus, kids WILL NOT want to do it.
It’ll be a constant fight as you try to convince them to do work, bribe them and then maybe get a few things done.
You’re going to feel unsuccessful and your child is going to be mad.
What you can do instead:
Have your kids write the schedule with guidelines. They can decide when they work best.
I suggest having them schedule in blocks. Instead of separating it into grammar lessons, math lessons and so on – have them block an hour for school work and then leave the rest of their schedule pretty free.
During free time, they can choose screen time, playing outside, baking, building with LEGOS. Anything they want to do.
Mistake 2. Not setting a procedure for interruptions
One of the biggest complaints about working from home is that kids constantly seem to need something.
Maybe they can’t open the jar of jelly.
Perhaps they really want to show you this cool LEGO building they built.
It’s all little things. But every single interruption breaks your concentration and makes it harder to get your work done.
Use a physical reminder to show your kids when they can’t interrupt you. My favorite is the timer on my cell phone.
When I’m working and can’t be interrupted, I set a specific amount of time on my phone – say 20 minutes.
The rule is, “you can’t interrupt Mama unless you are bleeding or dying.”
It works well because kids have an endpoint. They know when it ends so they will wait to tell you everything when the timer goes off.
Mistake 3. Making yourself responsible for your child completing schoolwork
This is a crazy time. You aren’t responsible for your child doing their work – your child is.
I need to be blunt here.
Any time you hover over them and coax them to complete the answer, you’re harming their self-sufficiency and motivation.
1) I can’t figure this out for myself.
2) I can’t pay attention. Why am I so bad at paying attention?
3) This whole thing just sucks.
Because it does suck to be micromanaged. We as adults don’t like it and neither do kids.
Let completing schoolwork be your child’s choice.
If it doesn’t get done and they never want to do it ever again, ok.
Odds are though, once you make it their responsibility, they will come back to it.
Mistake 4. Stressing over a subject area that you don’t know.
Yes, this is a crazy situation. But, you don’t have to be a master in everything. Right now, you’re probably putting a lot of undue pressure on yourself.
When I was a teacher – and I taught fifth grade – I always had to brush up on subject material before I taught it to my class. Nothing came easy.
Teaching requires intimate knowledge of a subject. I used to beat myself up for everything I didn’t know and had to learn sometimes the hour before class started.
The big difference is that was my job. That’s what I had time set aside in my day to do. You probably don’t have that right now.
You’re balancing your own work priorities with your child’s schoolwork and there’s frankly not enough time for both.
Instead: Lean on sites like khanacademy.org with their ready-made video lessons to teach your child. You simply go to the site, search for the topic at your child’s grade level and Bam… a video lesson waiting for them.
Think of this as a time to show your kids how to find answers for themselves when they don’t know how to do something – which is a skill they can use forever.
Mistake 5. Believing that this all falls on you
It doesn’t. We’re all here to help each other out.
Many educational websites are offering extended free trials or simply opening their resources up.
I’ve collected them for you here. Grab it and have so many awesome educational websites right at your fingertips.
Overall, this is a stressful time. The most important thing is to put your relationship with your kid over the need to do all the schoolwork and all the things.
Set little goals,
Lean on outside websites as much as possible.
Take a deep breath.
Reach out when you need help.