The day I left the teaching profession was one of the happiest of my life. I wasn’t cut out to be a teacher. It’s truly one of the most challenging professions out there.
Fast forward a few years and I, like many of you, have been thrust into the situation where I have to be a teacher to my own child. It sucks. Let me tell you that even when you’ve done the training, teaching your own child is something else. Sometimes it feels like an impossible task.
My daughter is bright but doesn’t take criticism well. She is more likely to sit still for her actual teacher than she is for me. She HATES facetime or any kind of on-screen conversation. She views her home as the place that she plays. Sound familiar? Oh, and there is the little matter of finding the time to do my job.
Home schooling will never be easy. We all have our own circumstances that will make it hard. But from my point of view as an ex-teacher here are some tips to make it a smooth as it possibly can be until the happy day when we send them off to learn from their actual teachers.
Empathy, empathy, empathy – Oh yes, I think I might have said this before. Acknowledge that this is hard for your child as it is hard for you. It goes a long way, no matter their age, to let them know that they are doing their best and that it is a difficult situation. That is also a gift you can give to yourself. Also, showing empathy to your child’s teacher can go a long way too and open lines of honest and open communication that leads to less pressure on everyone.
Routine – Another familiar tip but choose a time every day that works for you. Children statistically learn better in the morning but do what is right for your family. It might be that you can get more boring tasks done in the morning and then save things like arts and crafts or topic work for the afternoon.
Know your child – You will know yourself when your child is being reluctant because they just don’t want to do it or when they are genuinely struggling with tiredness or ‘big’ emotions. Sometimes you will be able to push through and others you may have to abandon a task for later in the day or even altogether.
Find another way to do it – Your teacher will be looking for a learning outcome meaning that there will be something they want your child to learn or practice from an activity. Sometimes it may be that you need to find another way to reach the end result, either because your child isn’t understanding, isn’t enjoying it or you don’t have the resources needed. For example, you might not have what you need to make a collage, but a picture or a painting will do. A parent I spoke to the other day had to use objects to count but her son just wanted to go outside so they counted leaves and stones. It’s the learning that matters, you can be flexible on the way to that learning if you need to.
Let them play – At other times in the day it is really important for young people to have some down time. For younger children this will of course involve letting them play. Be ready to capture some of that play in a photograph because you may just find they are doing some learning through their play. Then you will have more to send to the teacher. This is often how children digest their learning. For all ages, getting out for a walk daily makes a huge difference. Especially as older young people will be learning with a screen for most of the day. We take a ball with us and if we find a quiet space, we have a kick about or a game of catch.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help – As they get older their work gets more challenging and some subjects (dare I say maths!) seem way beyond what we ever learned in school. You are not failing if you have to look things up or contact the teacher for help. If you are struggling in any way, have an honest conversation with school about how you can go about things, they may be able to offer some extra help if it’s something you can’t get your head around.
As ever, keep yourself in as calm a space as you can at this time. This means making sure you are well rested and fed ready for school the same as you ensure your children are. Ultimately at some point we won’t have to do this anymore. Schools will be ready for the fact that children will not likely be as far ahead as if they had attended school. Try not to sweat it. Children and young people are resilient, especially if they have been given the magic combination of empathy and understanding.
Stay safe, stay strong and stay kind – Terrie.