Relationships and parenting expert Anitia Conlan shares some of the the frustrations, tips and insights she is hearing from parents in relation to home schooling during Covid 19.
If ever there was a situation guaranteed to bring the worst out in children and their parents it has to be this.
I know there are some parents who have already opted to school their children themselves and for them this is a doddle but the fact is that the vast majority of parents did not choose to do this, but it has for reasons beyond anyone’s control, been foisted upon them.
I find myself thanking God every day that I do not have any school age children. I do however, have grandchildren and lots of nieces and nephews who are in the throes of this. Some of them are actually teachers and they are still finding this hard.
Now, I am not suggesting that everybody is struggling with this and if you’re not well done and don’t bother to read anymore. If you are though please take some comfort in the fact that you are in good company.
Not enough hours in the day
One of the main problems that I am listening to from parents is around them finding enough hours in the day to do this.
Even those parents who are unable to go to work due to the current situation can find it hard to dedicate a few hours of their day to this and if they have more than one child at home you can add even more time to that. For those parents who are continuing to go out to work or are working remotely from home it can be even harder.
Give yourself a break
I am not going to tell you how to manage your time and juggle 100 things at once. There are numerous blogs and dedicated websites for this but what I would like to do is just to say well done to you for even trying!
It’s not a competition
I have noticed that some parents are using homeschooling as yet another way to grade themselves as parents.
There seems to be a competition amongst the more ambitious to go online to talk about their successes and how much time they are actually spending educating little Sean or Milly. Which in itself is admirable, but just bloody do it you don’t have to tell everybody else you are doing it!
Perfect parent syndrome
It is just another case of the “perfect parent syndrome” making the less than perfect parents amongst us feel a tad inadequate.
I have a family member who is a teacher and refuses to open any messages from her colleagues because in her words “they have lost the plot as far as homeschooling is concerned”.
Normal life is still going on and the rhythm should be maintained as far as possible. Which means homeschooling should fit into family life not a case of family life operating around homeschooling!
Your family is unique
All families function in a slightly different way. Some are naturally organized, some are naturally disorganized, some are more active than others, some are sporty, some are chatty, some are progressive in their outlook, some are conservative.
Take a breath
Your family has been thrown this curved ball and only you can decide how it best fits into family life.
Maybe your child is being resistant to being taught by his/her parents and there are lots of arguments and or nagging (by the way nagging is just when somebody has to continually repeat a request, when if it were done in the first place you wouldn’t have to repeat it) at least that’s what I tell my children.
If this is the case, I would urge you to step off the treadmill and breathe because arguing in times of crisis can very quickly become the default method of communication.
Getting your priorities straight
Go somewhere quiet and decide what is really important, what is desirable and what is unimportant which may help you not to sweat the small things.
Get input from the kids
Decide what is best for you and your child/children together. Ask for input from them. Maybe you could draw up individual lists of challenges and successes and a reward system (and not just for the children) compare your lists and finally reach a COMPROMISE that suits everybody or nearly everybody if that was being a bit optimistic.
Holding on to the positives
Remember this too will pass and you may even look back on this with some fond memories. Try to think what those fond memories might be going forward and in the darker moments it may hopefully help you to hold onto the positive aspects of home schooling!
If you would like professional support with anything you are going through turn2me provides free, confidential online supports for young people and adults in the Republic of Ireland.
- Peer support - A free and safe space where you can find and give support by connecting with other people who have been through similar experiences.
- Group support -Facilitated by a mental health professional, support groups are a safe space to connect with others and share solutions and coping strategies on a variety of mental health topics.
- Counselling - Support for whatever you are going through, this is a safe space to talk with a professional counsellor to help you understand your feelings and work together to develop the tools you need to get through tough times.