Home schooling - this is probably a phrase that resonates with nearly every individual on this earth now. Parents with school going kids across the world, yes, we understand it first-hand but even those without have not been unaware or untouched by this term. Never has the whole world gone through such an event when we have felt so united in our feelings and emotions in so many ways. We are now able to empathise with each other so easily in a variety of situations as we have never been before.
Governments across many countries have announced phased opening of their economies and many companies have started taking baby steps in opening their doors for business. However, many schools are taking the precautionary approach and may not open their premises to welcome students back immediately. Thus, home-school may very well stretch for another month or two or even beyond.
It has been a hugely different experience for us parents. It has also been an enormously trying time for parents who are key workers, arranging childcare and managing home- school too, my sister and my friend being amongst many such families. I consider myself fortunate that I can go through this whole experience physically and amend things as we go through the process. My kudos to those parents who are juggling both work and home-schooling in these difficult times.
Today, I thought of sharing our way of coping with home-schooling of my young teenager. Over the last two months, we have explored, adapted, learnt massively, and sort of adjusted to the new norm. I have tried to list few key points that we found necessary to be followed for successful home schooling.
Create a routine
Creating a structure to your child’s day is key to a successful and calm teenager during home schooling. It is important that you talk through this routine with your kid/s and agree to an approach that suits them and you.
Treat the week as a normal school week, ensure they are ready to be at their study desk by usual school start time. If that means they must wake up at a certain time, do their morning chores, make their bed, finish eating breakfast etc. ensure they are keeping up with it. Remember to encourage without being pushy. Agree to and regulate break times and mealtimes. On days when there are exceptions or changes, make sure you keep your child informed and agree on the changed timings beforehand.
Couple and half months back, when the school informed us that they are closing their gates and all classes will shift online, me and my husband did not realise the seriousness of it, thinking that it will only be a matter of few weeks and anyway it will be same as when kids have to do their school work during their holidays or end of term break. How wrong we were! The first week was a ‘do as you feel’, with parents and kid alike savouring the ‘being at home together’ moments. Towards the end of the first week dawned the realisation when sonny dear had more than half of the schoolwork still left to do. This led to pressure and made him anxious of missing his deadline. It led us into some serious parental thinking, and we sat down with sonny to arrange a structure for the days of the school week. Touchwood, it has worked like magic for us.
Create a pleasant study environment
I am sure every child has either a room or a nook for their studies when they need. If your child does not have one yet, I would suggest you give some serious thought to it. Ensure there is enough natural light and air coming through.
If your kid is avoiding sitting on the desk that you lovingly bought or studies everywhere else other than his/her own study room, probably you need to check what is making him/her do so. Investigate if the room is too warm, too cold, too quiet, too noisy, messy, or maybe the desk or chair is not comfortable. Whatever the case may be, an open discussion might help.
Ensure they get good food
When I say good food, I do not want to say that you should be dishing out gourmet, restaurant style food. Of course, if you are a born cook with fling and flair for flavour & style, please do so. In both cases, bear in mind that your child is getting enough nourishing food. It is quite easy to fall into the trap of thinking that they do not need to eat much as they are not doing as much physically as they would normally do at school. Food that you provide at this time should be well balanced and best way to achieve is to give them a rainbow coloured diet. Ensure they are getting their 5 a day. Avoid or minimise giving fatty, fried or sugary food and drinks. Remember, what they eat will affect their mood and behaviour. So, if you want a happy child, ensure you pay attention to what you are feeding him/her!
Add daily physical activities
Everyone understands the significance of exercise for our physical and mental wellbeing. More so, when your child is no longer exposed to the amount of physical activity that s/he usually gets at school. Encourage them to do some form of physical activity/exercise, be it walking, jogging, running, cycling, yoga, dancing or any other form that is doable or conveniently accessible to you. During this growth phase when their hormones are playing up, it is particularly important to keep them physically active and not just letting them coop up in a room in front of the computer. We all seem to know this, but it helps when you get it reiterated, as I got it from my big sis.
Spend quality time
An advantage of home-schooling and especially in the current scenario, is that you get to spend lots of time with your children. Make good use of it! Get yourself around the dining table during each meal and get talking. Play family games, have meaningful conversations with your children, you will be surprised how and what comes up when you do it in a relaxed environment. Listen, pay attention to what they have to say. Both me & my husband have been diligently trying to do so. If one of us trips, we make sure the other steps up. 😉
Allow time to do their own thing
Now there is plenty of time in hand as amongst all the other fluffs that comes with home-schooling. No walking to and from and no donning uniforms, hence more time to give to doing their own thing. Depending on what your child likes doing, it could be anything from art & craft, cooking, baking, decorating, music, reading etc. etc; the list is endless. Encourage them to start or continue with their interests or hobbies. We have all heard this saying ‘An empty mind is a devil’s workshop’; so, if you want your teen not to become a ‘Tyrannoteen’, better arrange some accessories to hone their hobbies!
Keeping in touch with friends
As much as we like and want to be the ‘talk to me, I am your friend’ parent, we cannot replace the
joys and fun of spending time with their own friends. Social distancing and home-schooling means that they are not getting their usual interaction with their friends. Encourage and support them to be in touch with their friend/s. It could be via any of the modern modes of communication. Well, having said that most teenagers probably do not need any encouragement on this bit but we as parents should also ensure that they are coming out feeling refreshed out of these social interactions not otherwise! Also, remember, it should not affect their schoolwork time!
Another aspect of online home-schooling is the uneasy sense of insecurity about kids being online on all sorts of platforms. Thanks to these online tools, our children are still getting decent schooling during this crisis. Because technology is unavoidable, we as parents must step up and understand how this crazy world of internet works. Recent stories about how Zoom got hacked does not help either. Ensure that your home’s internet privacy and security are up to date, check that the platforms they are using have got passwords or passcodes. If you have doubts, speak to their teachers, or raise it with the school. Educate your child about do’s and don’ts whilst online and to inform you if they notice anything wrong.
Winding down - Bedtime
Last but not the least, it is also important to have a winding down ritual! Try and stick to it as much as possible. Remember, once this pandemic shutdown is over, we might not be always around to kiss them goodnight or argue with them over whether they get to watch TV after watershed or not. So, get involved, create good childhood memories now, as many as you can before they grow up to be grumpy adults. Give your child a relaxed environment before s/he drifts off to their dream land. This will help them sleep better and wake up a better human being next morning. 😊
We would love to hear stories of your own home-schooling experiences and learn from them. If you would like to share your stories and want them to be published on Oh Life’s Beautiful, please e-mail us at ‘firstname.lastname@example.org’, with the subject line – ‘My Home-Schooling Story’. If you want to stay anonymous, please mention it in your e-mail.
We would love to hear from you. 😊