homeschooling during a pandemic

While it is true, many of us are homeschooling.

What is even truer is that many of us are at home, trying to work and learn under extraordinary circumstances in the midst of a global crisis.

There’s a reason people don’t voluntarily sign up to work full time, homeschool full time, and parent full time. It’s insane.

When I opened the 87th email with another password to another website to find another assignment with another deadline to download, I snapped – f*ck this, I’m doing it my way!

Eventually the tears behind my eyes settled, my clenched fists unfurled and I messaged my co-parent. We talked about how we were feeling, what was in the best interest of our children, and made some changes.  

I’m not going to tell you what’s right for you, but I will offer some perspectives for you to explore so you can make the decisions that are right for your family.

gentle expectations

This is the time to have gentle expectations – of yourself and of your children. Take things one day at a time and start over as many times as you need to.

Yes, our kids need to learn math and printing. But, more importantly, they need to learn how to navigate challenging times in a healthy way.

space for boredom

I was one of those parents that believed I was falling short if my kids weren’t living action-packed, interesting lives – until I read the research,

  • boredom encourages imagination and creativity
  • boredom teaches grit
  • boredom develops problem-solving skills
  • boredom helps children form relationships
  • boredom builds confidence
  • boredom improves mental health
  • boredom creates a sense of belonging
  • boredom makes childhood happier

Clearly, boredom is not a bad thing.

You do not have to keep your kids constantly engaged and entertained – they will find ways to learn and grow on their own.

It’s not easy, I know. Many kids went from being constantly stimulated and scheduled, to having space they didn’t know what to do with.

Ease into boredom.

Here are some ideas:

  • Pick one day per week where there are no structured activities {and no technology} and there is space to follow interests.
  • Give them a creative open-ended task like setting up a treasure hunt.
  • Provide low tech toys {or google Loose Parts Play}.
  • Take them outside and let them take the lead and create their own adventure

rituals and routines

Flying around the internet are a lot of perfect, rigid, colour-coded schedules, with certain tasks happening at certain times from morning until night.   

Instead of following someone else’s schedule, find the rituals and routines that work for you and your family. When you relax a rigid schedule, you create more space for self-sufficiency.

Kids need structure and they need space.

Instead of a rigid schedule, consider what it might be like to have rituals and routines.

Rituals and routines soothe us and help us feel safe; rigid schedules create frustration, anxiety and burnout {for them and for you}.

Your routine is the predictable order of the day. The routine is flexible {not a rigid schedule} and follows the flow of the day. For example, over here we wake up, brush teeth, get dressed, make and eat breakfast together, do a learning activity, exercise, do a learning activity, make and eat lunch, go outside, do a learning activity, make and eat dinner, have wind down time. We can adapt this routine to make it more or less intense to adapt it to everyone’s needs during the day. I’m not saying do what I do, I am encouraging you to find a routine that works for you.

Your rituals are the predictable activities you engage in at a certain time – stories before bed, singing the same song as you brush your teeth, sharing your gratitude during mealtime, greeting them every time you reunite after being away with a hug and a “I’m so happy to see you!”

Predictable rituals and routines build a feeling of security and trust.

Calmness comes in and the need to control goes out.

listening strategies

I know it can be frustrating when kids are not listening.

Most of the time, not listening isn’t a sign of not respecting {a common belief}, it is a sign of needing safety and connection.

If a child is feeling shamed or blamed, stressed or stupid, overwhelmed or over-responsible, the executive functioning in their brain slows down and eventually shuts down.

In order for a child to listen they need to feel safe and connected. When they feel safe and connected, their executive functioning comes back online; then, they are more able to shift attention, control their impulses, be empathetic, prioritize appropriately, plan ahead, take initiative, analyze tasks and complete them.

Reflect on this question: how can I help my child feel seen, heard, and understood?

Here are some options:

  • get down to their level to speak
  • share interest in what they care about
  • validate all their feelings
  • watch them with curiosity
  • empathize with their struggle
  • give them visual cues to breakdown multi-step tasks
  • mirror their actions
  • get physically close to them to help support impulse control
  • wait for a natural pause in their focus to get their attention
  • give them only one task at a time
  • speak in statements, not questions {avoid – “why would you do that?!”}
  • reflect their experience back to them
  • ask them what they need
  • play a physical game to release stress {hide and seek, tag, chase}
  • give them a tight hug
  • make a weighted blanket together and use it for comfort

 safety strategies

When the world feels uncertain and insecure, the most important thing we can give our kids to help them learn is a sense of safety.

You know your child best, reflect on this question: what will help my child feel safe right now?

If you’d like some support, check out this resource for some ideas.

You are doing a great job.
You are managing a lot.
You’ve got them.
We’ve got you.