School closures have forced parents and caregivers to assume the role of primary educators for their children, and have transformed homes into makeshift classrooms. Faced with the unexpected, we’ve all had to pivot our daily routines and start wearing additional hats around the house – and many of us don’t know where to begin.
The overarching goal is similar to that slogan stay calm and carry on, well it’s hard. And, I’m here to help. It’s essential to continue to nurture your child’s academic skills, confidence, and motivation while they engage in at-home learning. Sound simple enough? Of course not. How do parents define what that looks like? How can we create balance in our homes and among our families while we are struggling to be business people, teachers, as well as mom and dad all at the same time?
In an effort to uncomplicate the complicated, I’d like to share our advice in creating balance at home for you and your family, and it can be summed up in one simple acronym: S.S.P.G.
Space: Create a dedicated space for learning at home. This becomes the classroom in your house or apartment, signaling to children, ‘while I am here, it’s time for school.’ The physical boundary will lend itself to an organic division between school/work time and playtime. With potentially multiple children vying for space, it’s important to carve out areas for each student and time to ensure that each child has dedicated time and space. Try and make sure the space is away from distractions such as a TV and create order in the space with areas for pens, pencils, paper, devices, maybe even have the backpack on the chair.
Schedule: It’s no secret that children thrive in the environments expertly created by their teachers and school administrators, so how do we attempt to mirror that success at home? Develop a routine that is feasible and keeps the family on track. Start the day with bed making, breakfast and brushing teeth. Once everyone is clean and dressed, dive into morning lessons and note the time you begin. It’s important to be cognizant of the limited attention span young learners possess. Be sure your students take regular breaks throughout the day. Consider half hour learning blocks at a time broken up with 10 minutes of stretching or free choice activities like throwing a ball with the dog. Students excel with a specified schedule, the structure of which proactively addresses some at-home learning hurdles. Dr. Mary Rooney, PhD. is a licensed Board Certified clinical psychologist and author of the popular blog Kids Can Focus as well as the Huntington Learning Center ADHD blog. Dr. Rooney explains that structure reduces conflict, provides a sense of control and security as well as reduces anxiety and improves motivation for students. Small yet important wins for everyone!
Partner: Now more than ever parents should be encouraged to lean into the support and resources their school districts and especially their children’s individual teachers are providing. Partner with your student’s teacher on material, curriculum, and learning methods, and stay in regular touch as best you can. This will ease the transition to learning from home and set your family up for success. At Huntington Learning Center, we’re partnering with our students and families by creating a quickly-evolving pool of resources in the form of webinars, digital learning platforms and remote support systems for families.
Goals: Families will not only feel, but see their measured and increasing success by setting achievable goals and celebrating them along the way. Goals of all sizes are important; set small, daily goals (read 15 pages, complete one math practice activity), as well as weekly and monthly goals dictated by grade level milestones outlined by teachers.
As you embark upon yet another week where you find yourself juggling the demanding roles of head chef, janitor/housekeeper, project manager, shipping and procurement director, veterinarian, CEO, COO, and on top of that all that now becoming your child’s teacher, remember – S.S.P.G. Set achievable goals and a feasible schedule for your home and lean on your resources, it takes a village! Also, don’t forget to reserve time for creativity and curiosity. We are all doing the best we can and quality time to enjoy each other is equally important!