A parent's tips for home-schooling
Parent-of-two Rox explains how she has found juggling home-schooling and work so far, and shares her tips for what has helped.
How I've found home-schooling so far
Some days are easier than others. I have two children who go to different schools, so we have been getting to grips with different home-schooling platforms. It’s really hard work and time-consuming. We have had tears and frustration from both my children and I.
The biggest challenges
Learning how to use lots of different online learning platforms has been a real challenge. It’s impossible for my eight-year-old to log on and switch between different windows and documents by herself. I find it hard to juggle my work with supporting her.
When I have time to sit and support her with each piece of work it’s fine, but most days I don’t have this much free time. That’s been my biggest challenge – trying to make sure she doesn’t feel a failure for not being able to navigate her way around a computer, and then finding things she can enjoy when I’m working that don’t always involve a TV.
I keep trying to tell myself that schools are learning at the same time as us parents about how to support home-learning, and we’ve had some nice messages from both my kids’ schools. Teachers have reassured us not to get stressed out, that our children’s wellbeing is most important, that a couple of hours a day is fine, and that we don’t need to put too much pressure on ourselves or our kids. But it still feels a lot to juggle and can be quite stressful at times.
What has helped
Keeping to a routine has worked well. We start our day at 8:30 with breakfast and some exercise or time outside together. Then I help them look over what they have to do that day, and together we work out what they can do by themselves and what they might need to wait for me for.
We check in mid-morning, and always try to have lunch together, however brief that may be, around 1pm. If they’ve finished all their work, we talk about what they enjoyed or found hard. They might read for twenty minutes after lunch if I can persuade them to, then they’re free to watch some TV or connect with their friends for a couple of hours. I’ve read advice about letting them connect, so I’ve been more relaxed about it since lockdown – but I think I am lucky as they’re still young and quite good at coming off in the evenings.
We’ve started watching shows together in the evening, which is a nice way for us to all relax. We’ve managed a few rounds of charades and card games too but not much more than that.
Being flexible, kind and patient helps – but sometimes in the middle of a busy work day or a frustrating piece of school work, it’s hard to come by these qualities. So being able to move on, forgive each other and put things behind us is something we’ve all had to learn to do more of. I find myself saying sorry a lot! It helps to talk about what we’ll do when this is over, make cakes, go outside when we can, and hug each other.
The positives of this situation
There have been some lovely moments watching my kids play and help each other with their school work, and going for walks together with our dog. I think we appreciate one another a bit more, and certainly rely on one another for support now we’re no longer able to see friends and family like we used to.
My advice for other parents
Be kind to yourself. Keep reminding yourself that you are doing your best, even if you wish you might have handled something differently that day.
You’re not a teacher. Right now, you might be a parent, teacher, employee, employer and/or carer all at the same time. Day in day out, week in week out, that’s a lot for one person. Give yourself a break, and take some time for yourself. Breathe, call a friend, do the things that make it a little easier for you – even if it’s just for five minutes. You won’t be much help to your child if you’re really stressed out all the time. But I also know from experience that’s much easier to say than do some days!
This time will pass. It may feel overwhelming and never-ending right now, but hopefully we can soon get back to some sense of our normal lives and routines. The intensity we’re feeling right now will lessen.
Where to get help
If your child or a child you are caring for is struggling with their mental health, have a look at our guide for parents, which has lots of tips, advice and suggestions on where you can get support.