March 18, 2020
Suddenly Homeschooling? Open Letter to Parents From a Sympathetic Teacher
A timely guest post to help you homeschool your kids during the coronavirus closings, written by Virginia second grade teacher Stanzi Lowe.
As a teacher mom, I am with children practically every hour of my day that I am awake. For the many of you who are normally not, but now will be, here are some survival tips that I hope will help your sanity.
Kids are social, needy, and love the adults in their life. Capitalize on those things.
1– In a classroom, we have jobs.
Line leader, paper passer, calendar helper, etc. Think of some areas you don’t want to be solely in charge of and delegate the responsibility to your kids.
Ideas: materials manager, crayon captain, lunch helper, sweeper, trash patrol…give it whatever cutesy catchy name you want and take off. This lets kids share ownership of the space they’ll be sharing with you for the foreseeable future and takes some burden off of YOU. Having everyone at home all day every day can get messy and exhausting–why should it all fall on you?
2–In a classroom, we make rules at the beginning of the year.
These are often co-created in response to the questions, What kind of a classroom will help us learn and grow? and What rules do we need in place to make that happen? Invest time early on in this temporary situation to come up with some ground rules, four or five positively worded reminders to help everyone stay happy.
It’s better for everyone when they know expectations and boundaries.
3-In the classroom there is often a “take a break” spot.
Sometimes a kid just needs to be removed from a heated situation and given a chance to reset. Find a cozy corner or area of your house to send a kid when they need distance from a game gone wrong, a lousy attitude, or repeated breaking of the amazing rules you took the time to make.
4-Kids need and crave structure.
Try to keep a daily routine. This does not need to be a tightly kept, color-coded schedule. Just a predictable order of operations that kids can rely on. This will also cut down on the annoying questions like, “When are we _______?” and “What are we doing next?”
5-Teachers can’t solve every problem every kid has all the time.
Neither can you. You will go insane faster than you already are. We encourage problem solving strategies like: move away from the problem, make a deal, ignore it, talk it out, pick a neutral choice. Also: match the size of your reaction to the size of the problem. Also: “I’ll handle blood, puke, and dangerous situations. You need to handle everything else right now.”
6- Sometimes every one needs a few minutes where nothing is being demanded of them.
Even the teacher. Take 5 to 10 minute “do-nothing” breaks as needed. You don’t need to win the parent of the year award every hour of every day. These weeks of “homeschool” do not need to be intense and perfect. They might actually be kind of fun, when the kids decide to stop fighting.
7- Some call it motivation, some call it bribery, some call it reinforcement.
Whatever you decide on, don’t be afraid to use it! Things like: whoever picks up their room first gets to choose the next movie; you can have X after you Y; if A is not done we don’t get to B.
If you read this far, you are amazing. We can do this!
Need further support? We have step-by-step family activities to help you set up a structure and system for learning (and working) at home in Work From Home With Kids and THRIVE. Join this supportive course and community to keep your family sane and lower the stress!
Kathryn Haydon helps you maximize your creative strengths so you can do your best work. Through keynotes, workshops, and consulting, she trains individuals, leaders, and teams to find the unique spark that leads to deep engagement and productivity.