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Ready for homeschooling?

Muddy enlists help to get parents prepared for the challenges of back to school at home

Have you slipped into a lockdown rhythm with your families? Are things muddling along ok but are your stress levels rising as the start of school approaches? School is restarting for most of us this week and are you wondering just how you are all going to manage this distance learning for an indeterminate period? Yup, we are! Muddy turns to The Parenting Partnership for help. Over to you…  

Alexander Graham Bell said “Before anything else, preparation is the key to success”.  Let’s get prepared now for a successful start to the school restarting from home next week.

You may have already seen that transitioning to learning at home is harder than it may seem. We are not, for the most part, home schoolers and this new distance learning is not the same thing. Older children are used to intense exam preparation being done at home but somehow this new unknown of having lessons at home, without the stimulation of classrooms, friends, extracurricular activities and a set routine seems so much harder.  Ultimately there is a new reliance on each child to manage their own time and this can all be very daunting. 

Where there is challenge there is also opportunity.   Can we think of this time as a chance to bond with our kids as well as instil in them some wonderful life skills and a love of learning that will hold them in good stead when our new normality resumes?

Here is how we can set our kids up now to succeed over the coming weeks and months:

1. Get prepared with a Chat Through.  Agree a time and sit down with each of your children away from distractions and talk through their daily schedule and your expectations.  Involving our kids and letting them do most of the talking helps them take ownership and they all learn best by doing rather than being told what to do.  Begin now and revisit the conversation several times so they can adjust to the change from holiday mode to school time.  Use plenty of what, where, when and how questions to keep them talking. Praise them for their contributions, sensible and responsible approach.  Chat throughs are great way to teach collaboration, preparation and problem solving skills. 

2. Set the timetable using effective learning segments.  Children will get less work done at home than at school. To keep the motivation going, and to manage our expectations, it’s helpful to break time into shorter learning segments.  Research supports the idea that we are all more productive and motivated when working for a specific period.  According to the Pomodoro Technique of time management developed by Francesco Cirillo in the late 1980s (named after his Pomodoro kitchen timer),  the ideal amount of time for adults to stay motivated and productive is 25 minutes with a 5-minute break with a maximum of 4 periods before a longer break.  Older students can manage these segments with the time for younger kids being shorter with a longer break. Shorter segments help kids learn to concentrate, avoid procrastination and keeps them motivated.

3. Seizing the opportunities of home learning. This is chance to prepare by shaking things up a bit and helping your kids learn in a way that is best suited to their needs.  Kids with high energy benefit from shorter learning segments and lots of movement thrown in – they can walk around learning their vocabulary at home. A child who is easily distracted might chose a table away from the noise of others for short spurts or prefer to sit next to you as you work, another might prefer to use your white board to draw his ideas before writing them down or use his Lego to help with maths.  We know our children better than anyone, can we help make learning fun by getting creative and being responsive to their needs? You may also be able to move the schedule around so that harder tasks get finished first when everyone is fresh and can be followed by something more fun and engaging.

4. Emotion Coaching. It is hard to overstate the challenge it is for kids to transition from learning in a vibrant school environment, mixing, laughing and learning with their peers where teaching is interspersed with other fun activities to being at home with only their parents or siblings for company.  They may be feeling anxious, frustrated, sad, lonely, disappointed, angry or overwhelmed.  Showing understanding, compassion and patience will help our kids get through the tough emotions.  Naming the big feelings has an immediate calming effect on the nervous system and helps kids learn to manage their emotions and problem solve.  We build connection when our kids know that we understand and respect how they feel. Emotion Coaching and naming to tame the big feelings teaches our kids that they can move through emotions to a place where they can be rational and thoughtful. “I can see how hard this may feel to be without all your friends.” ‘I know how important your football is to you and it is hard to concentrate on the work when you don’t have that to look forward to.”

5. Yes, Let’s. If we all came out of this difficult time feeling closer to our kids, that would be enough. The academic learning might not be the most important part of this time we have together.  Despite the hardship we are enduring, we hope that we can look back on this time as an incredible opportunity to spend time together with our kids, no matter what their ages.  What can you do together that helps you all stay present, enjoy each other and feel more connected? A focus on punctuating your day with fun and slow things you can do together will help.  When your kids ask “Mum can we cook? Garden? Kick a ball? Can I show you this cool new game?”  Say ‘yes, let’s!’. It may be that you add a ‘when’ to your response, “as soon as I am off my conference call’ or “as soon as you have finished that worksheet” but teaching life skills, feeling closer to your children may just be the best learning there is.

The Parenting Partnership are offering Skype consultations so do get in touch at theparentingpartnership.com

Find more ideas here

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