Schools across America have been closed for up to 3 weeks now, meaning parents get to play the teacher role. For many of you, you are juggling working from home, cleaning, cooking, and guiding your kids through their daily lesson plans. While each school district has their own spin on what distance learning looks like for their students, they have one thing in common- it is all online.
CLICK if you need resources on getting connected to the internet during COVID-19.
Many St. Louis therapists you run into will have had a career prior to joining the mental health field. I was certified as an elementary teacher in my prior life before becoming a certified school counselor and community counselor.
Home schooling requires you to be in constant contact with your kids and, lucky you, they will respond differently to you than their regular teacher solely because you are their parent!
Here are some basic tips from a veteran teacher to get you started on an easier path while homeschooling your child(ren):
1. Keep the developmental age of your child in mind as well as their unique personality. Home school settings allow for a lot of free learning and the potential for unstructured time. Some kiddos will respond well to this and others will need their day to be majorly structured. Provide instruction and structure for the school day based on your child’s needs. Some kids may need a visual representation of what their day will look like posted on the fridge or wall. You child may enjoy helping you create this together. This will help them buy into the new normal. Teachers spend the first week doing this with your child in elementary school for a good reason!
For older kids, it is quite easy to let them drift out of their regular routine. They may not need direct supervision with their studies, but they will need structure and limits throughout the day. Limit frivolous technology usage such as their phones or games during “school hours,” limit screen time and try to build limits around how late they are up on screens. **Remember, delivery matters. This is not a punishment or reprimand. These are teaching moments full of lessons they will carry into their adulthood about self-control and balance.
2. Keep a routine in place. Everyone, including you, needs a sleep, meal, work and play routine to keep things as normal as possible during the COVID-19 social distancing and quarantine. During the week, have a bedtime, wake time and study time. Take this opportunity to spend some special time connecting with your child as well. You are stuck at home, get to know your child! Make a schedule and post it if that helps your family.
3. Empathy, empathy, empathy. As weird as it is to be the teacher, it is just as out of the norm for your child to have you as the teacher. Remember that they are used to a lot of structure and a whole different style than what you provide. Voice this to them when they seem frustrated or out of sorts, so they know you understand what they are feeling. Hey, they are kids, they may not even understand what they are feeling themselves. It is our job as adults to help them put words to it. Here is an example: “It feels really different doing school from home, and you miss your friends. Let’s work on this together for a bit to get you started and maybe it will start to feel a bit better,” or, another simple empathetic statement could be, “Being out of the normal routine sucks, it won’t be forever.”
Empathy is not complicated. Just state the feeling you see or put “it seems like” in front of a feeling you are guessing about, and you will see an improvement in behaviors and frustration.
Dealing with kids is never easy, more so when grown up adults don’t really know what to make of a new and uncertain situation like the COVID-19 pandemic. But, it is important to address children’s concerns, allay their fears, and help them stay calm in the current scenario. At the same time, it is crucial for parents to educate themselves about the disease and put their own irrational fears to rest before speaking to their children. Remember, children learn to react to situations by watching their parents. Peaceful and happy parents will reinforce the same behaviors and mental set in their children as well.
Contact Experienced St. Louis Therapist for Help
Adjusting to new and uncertain situations can make children anxious. We understand that it can be perplexing for parents to explain the ongoing pandemic to their kids without making them fearful of it. Our professional therapists can help you help your children make sense of and cope with the current COVID-19 situation in a healthy manner. Speak to us today at (314) 370-5531 or click here to understand this process better and learn about its benefits.