First priority is to have a family discussion
It is a fact that this structure is different and new to everyone in the family. Students may be at home for a while, so having a clarifying discussion is a good investment. Talk about and recognize how each person feels about the changes. Let your kids know that it is normal to miss friends, and talk about ways to set up times to connect outside of the school day. Also, discuss how your children like to learn. One child may love staying home and can attend to tasks independently. The other child may find it difficult to focus and feel discouraged because they are not getting things done like they used too. Whatever the feelings are, acknowledge those feelings. Maybe agree on a signal or code word that signifies “I need help” or “I am trying, but this is really hard”. Proactive communication goes a long way.
Providing structure is key
Your home is a work place / school during the day. Set it up that way. Stay calm and set up each child’s work-station as a team. Parents, you will not get this perfect the first time. Talk about this with your kids as you work through the problems. Just like team building at work – it is easier when the person in charge sets clear boundaries and is a good listener.
Also, providing a predictable daily schedule can help some students relax. Children are used to predictable patterns at school, and providing a reliable schedule at home can reduce the uncertainty that may lead to upset and frustration.
Give clear visual cues
Once you set a schedule, post a copy of it where everyone can see it. For young children, include pictures of the days tasks and refer to the schedule as a way that they can anticipate what is coming next. Experiment to see if you need one consolidated board or one for each child or both.
Quiet focus time: Class time
Develop a schedule for each person having to work on a shared computer or in a shared space, and protect this time for each person. Respect each person’s unique need for quiet and for space. If space at a table or in the house is limited, then a schedule will help each family member organize their time and space as needed.
Parents, you will need to ask your kiddos and prioritize time for tasks that may need adult supervision or assistance. You may need to set up “group days” or “project days” around a big table in the garage. Schedule as a team with the other parents, the projects the students have and who is available to assist. Reach out to the other parents and cover items such as best dates and times, safety needs (space, masks), project items needed before hand and who can supervise or would like to help with the project. Set up a food delivery for lunch. Be sure to include start and stop times, any expected costs and the possibility of one extra completion date and time. Have fun with this, and use this as a good friendship bonding experience for both the parents and the students.
Energy release and refocus time
Exercise, play, walk or stretch time – the body needs to move to help stay focused. Maybe look up a few yoga on line classes and schedule “PE time” this is a time for music, movement, play. You will also benefit from this time as a parent. Adults will park themselves at the computer all day and that is not healthy. Plan to play or “Yogi time” with the students.
Just Remember You Are Not In This Alone
This time is new to everyone. The first month may have been tough; continuing to communicate and develop structure is key. Talk in the evenings over dinner about the day. Be OK with a few setbacks and work through them. And lean on additional resources like other parents, grandparents, or neighborhood groups.
While this new environment is tough for the teachers also, don’t avoid communication. Parents, set up appointment times to discuss your feelings and challenges. Teachers want to work with you to find solutions. Remember to stay calm, treat the teacher as a professional, and give yourself and the teacher plenty of grace. Students will benefit from observing honest discussions and co-operative strategies.
Thank you, Heather Hammock, for your input in this supportive blog article for parents in our community.
Heather is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapy Associate. Her hospitality is warm and encourages connecting with emotions, relationships and aspirations.
A Master’s degree in marriage and family therapy, Heather uses her training in (EFT) Emotionally Focused Therapy and (DEEP) Dynamic, Enriched, Experiential Psychotherapy to support clients in parenting, romantic relationships and personal growth. One of our personal favorite books she recommends is “Daring Greatly” How the Courage to be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent and Lead by Brene’ Brown.
If you have any questions or need some support in some of these areas, please send Heather an email.
Heather Hammock, LMFT-Associate