As schools began to close, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, parents were forced into a new role: teacher. What feels like overnight (because it literally was overnight), every household began to implement some version of homeschooling. We first need to realize the difference between a parent choosing to homeschool their child (doing TONS of research and ensuring they can dedicate the time, structure, and attention) and a parent or parents who were forced into this role due to a crisis- these are NOT the same.
Here are things to remember as you are navigating this uncharted territory of homeschooling during COVID-19:
You are doing the best that you can. Some parents might be able to accommodate this overnight change, and begin to create a homeschooling experience with color coded folders, schedules, and activities printed out in nice stacks for each child. This is not realistic for many families, especially when parents are trying to balance work and homeschooling expectations. Remember that every school and teacher set up their classes differently, so expectations are going to vary. You know your child the best, so there are going to be unique or specific things that work for him/her. Do what makes the most sense for your household.
Avoid Social Media. If no social media is not feasible, at the very least, try to avoid comparing yourself to others. We all catch ourselves scrolling through social media and seeing these picture-perfect images that begin to make us feel like we are “not doing enough” or have “failed” in some way. STOP! We all have different time constraints, responsibilities, and routines. Every household is different!
Model the behavior you would like to see. Our children have a hard time figuring out how to manage their big emotions. We can help teach them skills by modeling what to do in situations where we are experiencing big emotions ourselves. Some examples include taking breaks, going for walks, organizing the house, demonstrating self-compassion and normalizing mistakes.
Set realistic expectations for yourself and your kids. It’s okay to not be okay. Everyone is carrying some emotions whether due to worries around COVID-19, job security concerns, routine changes, or a combination of all of these and more. Kids not only pick up on adults’ emotions, but they have emotions of their own as well. This is a hard situation for everyone, so it’s okay if they are slightly regressing in school. Don’t view this as a reflection of your abilities, and don’t feel that what they are learning in school needs to take priority over their mental health during this crisis.
Let your child express their feelings. Children may not be in the space to fully engage and retain the current academic information. However, they will remember the way the felt during this time. Did they feel scared, supported, or overwhelmed? Some kids are able to verbally articulate their feelings, but others express their feelings through behaviors. Either way, this is a great opportunity to take the pressure off of yourself and your kids, and just focus on being present and connecting with them.