Read on to learn 12 Ideas To Use When Schooling At Home Feels Like a Struggle (and get your free printable)
What's the first thing that pops into your head when you hear the words “remote learning?” “homeschooling” or “online learning.”
If you groaned, felt needles of frustration, rolled your eyes, or just wanted to close your eyes and give up then keep reading.
Whatever way you've decided to tackle schooling during the pandemic, chances are classes at home get a little rocky.
There will be days when your kids seem more reluctant or completely resistant. There will be days when they whine and complain. Days where they can barely sit on their chair for a Zoom class let alone concentrate on their teacher. Days where they'll rip up the pages they are working on and proclaim they'll never do any schoolwork again. (An action, which you'll come to read, can actually be a great thing!).
And there will be days when you feel those exact same things!
It's also natural.
Think of all the change you are all facing. Not to mention the demands on your time, attention, and emotions. Still, not exactly a perfect learning environment. And, most likely, not one you chose.
Even if you enjoy the closer time with your little ones, enjoy seeing them learning, or feel proud of some of what you have all produced together, there may still be days when you wake up thinking, “How are we ever going to do this?”
A while back, Hand in Hand Podcast host Abigail Wald shared 12 ideas for beating homework battles in this post. Guess what? All of those tips can help you maximize at-home schooling with your child.
Whether you've settled on a few hours of schoolwork at home or a few minutes, these ideas will help you make the most of that time.
12 Ideas To Use When Schooling At Home Feels Like a Struggle
Plan for Success: When things are calm, ask what still needs to be done, or when they want to do school, instead of demanding it gets done. Try, “What do we have left to do on our plate?” and “I wonder, what school work is due?”
Let them eat! Protein, good fats and fruits are good for feeding the brain. If you can, get those bellies full of good stuff before you begin lessons.
Do it their way: Homework doesn't have to be completed sitting at a desk. Just like we have preferences for where we work, read and relax, so do our kids. They might use the added connection to focus when they sit next to you on the sofa, or even on your lap while they work through problems.
Make time to decompress: Ask what they want to do first. Some kids like to silently process in a quiet area, or snuggle together as you read a book. Others may need to play ball games or dolls. Carve out 10 minutes together and do Special Time, giving them a chance to lead you as you play — a nice role reversal.
Make it Fun. Get in the mood with some physical play, some hide and seek, or a pillow fight to clear lingering stressors. And then keep the fun vibe. Want to do maths homework upside down? Go for it. Add up funny features on faces. Read titles or instructions wrong, or in a silly voice. If the assignment seems confusing, act confused. “Gee! I wonder what they mean?”
If this is hard for you, bring it to your Listening Time, and try complaining about not doing things “properly,” or wriggle and resist your listener's prompts to have you “sit down and concentrate,” or whatever it is your inner critic is shouting at you.
Take the lesser role: Some of us feel uncomfortable when we don't know today's new teaching methods but sitting and having your child show you how it works means they learn by taking the lead. Play around with getting the wrong answers or assumptions to further turn on their inner confidence — show them what learning looks like by figuring out things together. Which leads to…
…Make it Collaborative: Try and be present and available rather than standing over your child. When you make homework collaborative you might tick one or two emails off your to-send list or plan the week's meals while keeping close enough to be there if your children need help. Don't underestimate that kind of emotional plug-in. Kids really feel when you are close by.
Be interested in how to get to the answer rather than if the answer is right. Good things to ask are:
- What are we trying to work out?
- Which bits of information do you think are important?
- How can we start?
- Let's go over what we have so far…
- Could we do anything differently?
- How sure are you about this answer?
- What part of the process did you most enjoy?
Teach by wondering: Try asking “I wonder if 6 x 2 is the same as 2 x 6.” or “Oh! I never read that book, what is it about?” Wondering is a good way to decrease pressure and increase interest.
Remember the power of “Not Yet”: Do you hear your child uttering negative phrases related to their ability? Phrases like, “I can't do that,” “I don't get it?”
The word “yet,” is a great response. As in, “You can't do it yet,” and “You don't get it yet.”
Yet is a great way to encourage a growth mindset that helps kids have a go, even if they fail.
And “yet” is a great mindset reminder for us as parents too because it's easy to forget that lessons are a work in progress and not a measure of our ability to teach.
When you leave a lesson and your child doesn't appear to have picked up the learning, take from the Thomas Edison quote, “I have not failed. I have learned 10,000 ways that won't work.”
Welcome struggle: How comfortable do you feel when your child struggles? Resist the urge to jump in and do the task for them. Instead, try letting them struggle while you hold that space for them.
Struggle is a necessary route to success, and when children struggle to get an answer they take ownership. Try listening to their complaints and just nod that you hear them, make eye contact, keep your voice low and steady and hold the limit that your child will get things done.
Read this post Supporting My Daughter in Learning Multiplication Tables to see how it looks when you struggle with your child, supportively holding space when they come up against difficulty, and how it can really help your child's resilience.
Ride their waves of feelings: Be aware that schoolwork can bring up a deluge of feelings in a child about his or her abilities. They might have feelings about the homework itself, that it's stupid or annoying, or that there are other things they want to do, like play.
Online school or classes at home might also trigger feelings kids have about their classmates, their teachers, or missing them and school.
When that happens, put aside the schoolwork and lean into listening to your child's upset for a while. This can be a good route for your child to offload all that upset, which is actually super smart for their emotional health.
When your child cries or gets mad and you can sit close by, listen and let them get it out, they will find their way back to good thinking, and back to their homework with new energy and enthusiasm.
Read What to Say During Staylistening to remind yourself what to say (or not!)
And one extra idea that's guaranteed to bust away a child's big feelings around school
This final, fun extra idea comes from Hand in Hand Parenting's founder Patty Wipfler and is pretty much guaranteed to bust away tension. When school work feels too much, make copies of your child's schoolwork, or draw up some problems that have been causing distress, and invite your child to rip them up.
- Rip em
- Stomp on them
- Yell at them
- Screw them up
- Flush them down the toilet
However, you choose to destroy those papers go all out! Sometimes it just feel good to actually do the thing you all wish you could do. Now you can!
Don't forget to get the handy cheatsheet to go with this post.