With school closures around the country, many parents are now overseeing homeschooling while also trying to make ends fulfill in the face of a dreadful economic downturn. Your youngster is likely to be displaying strong emotions and difficult behaviors in this atmosphere of disrupted regularity and uncertainty.
In my job as a school psychologist, I’ve been hearing from parents who say that their children are failing to achieve homeschool standards despite their best efforts. Kids who have never had behavioral or emotional problems have problems, and kids who have had problems in the past have more problems. Here are three strategies that parents I work with have found useful in supporting their children (and managing their stress) during school closures.
Relax your educational and production requirements to a level that would be acceptable in the event of a global pandemic
If you’re a parent who is unexpectedly juggling remote jobs and homeschooling, your home may resemble mine right now. I’m writing this while simultaneously assisting my third-grader with Google Classroom, attempting to set up my kindergartener for some independent writing work, and answering questions every few seconds (wait, what’s the difference between scalene and isosceles triangles again?!?).
In the last several weeks, I’ve realized that being effective at my job as a school psychologist while also homeschooling my children is not realistic at this time. It turns out that being a parent, a teacher, and a school psychologist are three distinct occupations that cannot be performed properly together.
Even if you’re all at home all day, Google “How to assist my kid during COVID-19,” and you’ll find that the best suggestion is to keep to a routine. This is for a good purpose. Routine and predictability are relaxing for both adults and children when stressed. Here are some reminders if you’ve attempted to make a timetable and your children are fighting it.
This is not the time to stifle your child’s activities. Now is the time to work with your kid to create a timetable that works for everyone.
It’s OK if your timetable doesn’t always go as planned. Every day is a chance to fine-tune what works and eliminate what doesn’t.
It is not your responsibility to reproduce an eight-hour school day as a parent. Your role is to make your kid feel protected and help them achieve their best with the distance learning plan offered by the instructors.
It’s worth mentioning that you don’t have to reproduce a whole school day! Your family’s calendar may resemble that of summer vacation, with possibilities for fun, exercise, hands-on learning activities, and family bonding. It’s also crucial to include “emotional checkpoints” throughout the day and your kid in the planning process.
When our children are experiencing strong emotions, they may express them via their actions. It might be an indication that your kid is overwhelmed or swamped with emotions if they are crying about something that appears little to you.
For example, when my kindergartener sobbed and shouted at me because she didn’t enjoy the word-sorting assignment her teacher assigned her, it wasn’t actually about the sorting task. She ended up admitting that she was upset because she missed her pals after utilizing her “Calming Menu” that we had prepared earlier (hugging the dog is her go-to). It would have been a wasted chance for her to learn to calm down and communicate her feelings if I had insisted on strict compliance with the task.
The crucial takeaway lesson here is that when youngsters (and, indeed, adults!) are overwhelmed by emotions, they lose access to their thinking and reasoning abilities. If your kid is unable to concentrate on schoolwork, or if you see them crying, tantrumming, or withdrawing, it’s probable that they cannot achieve an expectation while under stress.
What is the antidote? Empathy. According to research, empathy has been shown to soothe the nervous system and re-engage the thinking and reasoning side of the brain. You may use the following mantras to remind yourself of this while you’re having a meltdown:
● My youngster is having a difficult time; they are having a difficult time.
● My kid is “telling” me that they need help via their behavior.
● The instructive moment regarding behavioral standards is seldom when it is “hot.” First, I must use empathy to soothe my kid.
The truth is that your job as a homeschooling parent right now is more about fostering a sense of safety, belonging, and acceptance than it is about academics. Teachers can educate your children about academics. The most crucial skill you can teach is how to deal with strong emotions while under pressure. Here are some strategies for teaching important emotional-regulation skills:
Prepare a list of soothing techniques in advance of when you and your children may need them. Post them on your refrigerator so that everyone in the family can see them.
Visit Greater Good in Education for research-based and easy-to-do connection activities that teach social-emotional skills, and choose a few to practice with your family.
Pick one self-care technique from the Greater Good in Action website to support yourself so you can parent from a relaxed position and show your kid how to solve challenges together. Because children learn from their parents, taking care of yourself teaches your youngster how to deal.
We live in great times, but we also have a unique chance. When you’re in tight quarters during a stressful situation, it’s a good idea to take a step back and concentrate on connection. Children will be safeguarded if they are linked through tough times. When we’re done with all of this and our kids return to school, we’ll have given them the gift of connection as well as some new social-emotional and problem-solving abilities.