So, you’re at home with the little darlings. Maybe your kids have been at home near enough the whole year. Maybe you’ve just started Home Learning 2.0. Maybe you’re trying to balance supervising your kids schooling with working. Maybe you’re trying to balance the schooling of older kids with the needs of toddlers and babies. Maybe you’re a stay-at-home parent, suddenly thrust into the role of teacher.
We all come to Home Learning from different backgrounds and with different life circumstances. Here’s four tips, from me to you, to help get you through.
You Are Smart Enough
Why did I start with this? Because many people (including people who go on to be teachers) leave school feeling like they’re lacking in something. That they’re not smart enough, or they’re just not good at certain things. But here’s the thing, no one is expecting you to be an expert in Maths or Science or English or anything like that. The only thing you need to be smart enough to do, is love your kids and want the best for them. And you know you’ve got that covered.
You Have a Job, and it’s Not Teaching
Balancing the job you’re now having to do from home, with the needs of your children who are now learning from home is extremely hard. How are you meant to balance these conflicting priorities? One way is to get your roles clear in your mind. Let’s say you’re an accountant. That’s your job. That’s what brings in the money for your family, that puts food on the table, petrol in the car and Netflix on the TV.
But your kids are now learning from home. Is teaching now your job? No! You’re role here is to support and supervise your children, but it is their teachers’ role to teach them. Believe us when we say, we know how hard it is when your child is freaking out because they can’t work out how to divide 32 by 8. Your role here is model coping skills, help them put this in perspective (yes, it’s difficult but it’s not the end of the world), redirect the issue to their teacher, and encourage them to move on to the next task. Easy? No way. But much easier than doing both your paid job and being an unpaid, untrained, teacher.
A Family is a Team
Being part of a family is being part of a team. How can you work, supervise the kids learning, feed the cat, make dinner, do the dishes, bath the toddler, change the baby’s nappy and call to check on your elderly parents, all on your own? You can’t.
But your six-year-old can pick up their own toys, your eight-year-old can put their clothes away, your ten-year-old can load the washing machine and your sixteen-year-old can slap together dinner. Will it be done to the same standard you would do it yourself? Probably not. Does that really matter, right now, with everything that’s going on in the world? I’ll leave that for you to answer.
For the Average Child, In the Long Run This is a Small Blip in Their Education
Even when they are at school your kids aren’t spending every second learning. Even not taking recess and lunchtime into account, there’s the time between classes, the time it takes to get everyone to sit on the mat, the time it takes for Johnny to stops whinging about the assignment he’s been given, the time it took for Susie to stop pashing her girlfriend and make it to class, sports day, cultural appreciation day, swimming sports day, end of year activities, end of term parties, and the list goes on. All these things happen because kids are human beings, teachers are human beings, and school is about more than academic achievement. And you know they happen, because they happened when you were at school too.
Despite all these time sucks, kids get the education they need. And they will now. It might not be as comprehensive as the education they would have got at school, but they are still learning and this will not go on forever.
Bonus for Teachers Who are also Parents
You probably feel like you should be using your teaching skills to teach your children. It’s what you do, after all. Me too. But here’s the thing, your child has a teacher, they don’t need that from you. What they need from you is their mum or dad. They need their soft place to fall. They need their support network. They don’t need to hear how you would have taught division differently, or that you don’t agree with their teachers take on the bombing of Hiroshima. So, we’re going to to direct you back to to point two – you have a job, your job is to teach someone’s child, but that’s not your child. Even if you are a teacher, redirect them back to their teacher with questions and refocus them on the next task. I’m struggling with this one too, but from my experience it’s less stressful and more productive for everyone when you remind yourself of what your true role is.