Step 1: don’t.
While homeschooling is not the most relaxing situation, there are ways you can help keep the mental health of you and your children intact as you adjust to this new reality.
Set up a dedicated space.
Much like working from home, it’s important to establish boundaries between ‘school’ and ‘home’ – even though they are now in the same location. If your space permits, set up a desk and chair in part of the house your kids don’t normally hang out in, to help with the transition in and out of learning time. Homeschooling can actually be an advantage for your child in this regard, as you can cater to their personality and learning style. They may prefer working alone in quiet room, or they may thrive in a more open and collaborative space, or excel while outside in the fresh air. Ask your child where they think the best place to learn is (in front of the TV doesn’t count).
It’s important that your kids understand that they are no longer on holidays. Make it clear they should be approaching homeschooling with the same attitude they have at school. If that attitude isn’t conducive to learning, introduce consequences for poor behaviour (such as no screen time). Behavioural management can be borderline impossible with everyone suddenly under one roof all day, but try and set boundaries early on and stick to them.
Find a routine that works well for you and your kids – whether it’s following their usual school hours or adapting a schedule that works based on study time recommendations from their school. This is where a whiteboard or flipchart can be a lifesaver. Whatever works best for you and your kids, write it up each day so everyone knows what is expected. This structure can help them stay on track, and reduces some of the stress for you as a parent. Try and write as much as you can on the whiteboard – specific homework tasks, advice from teachers, encouraging words – anything to help empty your head and avoid feeling overwhelmed.
Know your limits.
While it’s good to be invested in your child’s learning and make an effort to understand the content, we’re not all teachers. We don’t have the same skills, and a lot of us struggle to remember what we learned back in school. Don’t feel like you have to be supermum or superdad who can fulfil the role of parent and teacher all in one. That will inevitably lead to more stress, which will only stress your kids out as well. There are plenty of handy online resources available, and teachers are still available to help (just make sure it’s within the set consultation boundaries). If all else fails, use the classic “what do you think the answer is” when you have no idea.
At the end of the day, this is a crazy situation – we can’t do anything to change that. Make sure your kids keep up to date with their schoolwork, but be flexible and allow yourselves to go with the flow. Stress is just counter-productive for you and your kids. If there’s an upside to all of this, it’s more family time – so make the most of it. Get out of the house to go for a walk, play boardgames, watch a movie – anything that helps ease anxiety and tension. Be kind to yourself and forgiving to your kids, and try to prioritise mental health.
To help stay organised, check out our range of whiteboards, pinboards and flipcharts, or get set up with our homeschooling package. For a more extensive range of chairs and desks for homeschooling, visit out our sister company, Epic Office Furniture.