Updated 11th May 2020
In Switzerland, many children are now back at school either full time or part time and by June things may be back to the ‘new normal’. For those that are still homeschooling their kids, take a look back at our recent article on how to manage your homeschool schedule.
Most of us feel like pulling our hair out now, but imagine the state we will all be in if homeschooling lasts more than a few weeks.
Here we look at tips to help parents survive what could be months of home schooling due to Covid-19. Some are even quietly suggesting that schools may not re-open before September in Switzerland. Let’s hope for our sanity that we don’t have to do this for 6 months, but here are some life-saving tips to keep us off the gin and get homeschooling working a little more smoothly.
We are all finding that our productivity has dropped off a cliff and children are not getting through their school work at the same rate as before. One of the biggest causes of stress is that we cannot get the same amount of work done as before the Covid-19 crisis. Now this is clear we can re-set what we expect to achieve. We can also do that for our children. If we lighten the load, it won’t feel so tough. The alternative is to keep on struggling and creating more stress and tension. Focus on the most important work and don’t beat yourself up if the rest takes longer.
Review the schedule
You did the right thing, you created a schedule and started working with your kids. Now is the time to review it. What worked, what didn’t? Do you need a different schedule for each child’s schooling depending on their character and the work being set by their teachers. Don’t be afraid to throw out what is not working and bring in new solutions. Yes, children need stability and routine but now is the time to make changes if the schedule isn’t working for your family. These are the things to take a look at first:
Are the kids getting up and ready for home school? Getting dressed and ready as they normally helps delineate between home and school. What time are lessons starting and ending? Is that working for you? Do they need to be moved earlier or later? Do they need more breaks? Are your children completing work across subjects or are there certain ones being avoided? Can they work independently in one subject but not another? Do you need to help them on certain things but can leave them to work independently on others? Some children are overwhelmed with the long list of work for the week. If this is the case with your child break it down and help them take it bit by bit, to avoid overload.
Use downtime to recharge.
We are spending a lot more time with our family than we are used to, so there will be stresses, bickering and arguments (and not just the kids!) So we need to re-charge our batteries frequently. This means getting exercise even when we are confined, having good sleep, getting outside as often as possible and finding space to be on our own for periods. If you are working on screens during the day, trying to avoid screens after work, instead relaxing in a way that will improve mental health. The 24 hours news cycle and reading more about Covid-19 on social media can make us feel worse not better, so limit that to once or twice a day if possible.
Call in help.
Who do you know who can help. Can grandparents, aunt or uncles help supervise sessions over Skype? Will younger children read aloud to them? Can they help supervise older children’s project work? At TutorsPlus our tutors are not just teaching our students but helping them manage their homeschooling. They are just an email away and are available across the day to jump in and explain a Maths concept or help coach a student to edit an essay. Our tutors can help get students over a hurdle without them having to interrupt your work. One of our families wrote to us today and said what a relief it was that she could send her boys to contact our tutor when they got stuck. “We had a FaceTime for 30 min with our tutor yesterday it worked really well! So when we have difficult things, I send it to him and then they do a quick 30mins together.”
Rewards, varied and often.
With the whining, bickering and interrupting that had led us to distraction this week, many of us will have got to the point of raising our voice or shouting for our kids to behave. By now we have probably discovered that it doesn’t work. With the family come up with a long list of rewards and treats that you can have even when living in confined circumstances (extra screen time, later bedtime, teleconferencing friends etc). Then if the kids aren’t playing ball you can withhold the treats until they do. Remember to reward yourself too. What can you do to make yourself feel better? Take time for yourself, this will be a marathon and we need to keep our strength up.
Keep calm and carry on. Try to build yoga or mindfulness into daily schedule.
The irony is not lost on me that I have been interrupted 9 times writing this while my daughter works on a French presentation. Good luck to all you parents out there, and remember it will get easier once we find our own rhythm….I hope.
By Sara Lloyd
Sara has been an education consultant for TutorsPlus for over 10 years and is an expert on international education in Switzerland. She is also a parent of two lively children.
If you would like to contact Sara to answer your education-related questions, you can contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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