With the slew of college, boarding school and public/day schools closing indefinitely, I’m sure you have a lot of questions about how to help your children thrive throughout this time of uncertainty and school closings. As a professional with a doctorate, and having led colleges, taught in boarding schools and homeschooled my own four children, I want to share with you how to best serve your child for the remainder of the school year.
Here are some tips for balancing your remote work life with your children’s schooling at home.
The one response I received when I first chose to homeschool my four children ten years ago was, “I could never do that!” Who would have thought that we would all find ourselves in this current situation? Now many of us don’t have a choice. We have been forced to educate our children at home. Many will use technology to do so. As a Certified Educational Planner (CEP), I’m here to offer you tips to create a smooth and sane transition.
- GET ORGANIZED!
The most vital step you can take is to create a schedule. This will provide comfort and calm to your children of all ages during this time of shift and unknowing.
Enlist their input. Each child will have their own column in the master schedule. Your older children will need to step up. Have a leadership meeting with them. Let them know that you are counting on them in a new way, a self-less way. Then you create an air-tight schedule. For samples, please contact us.
Next, especially for young learners, you MUST be fully present to them for swaths of the day. This is critical. You will be tempted by phone and TV news drama to be pulled away but remember, teachers in school don’t take phone calls or text during class. We must follow their professional lead. THIS IS OUR CHILDREN’S EDUCATION WE ARE TALKING ABOUT. IT’S WORTH IT.
- SET ALARMS
NOW THAT YOU HAVE A SCHEDULE, POST IT AND STICK TO IT. The best boarding schools in the country take phones from students during study hall. At times, you must implement a “no phones” zone at home. That will create a reprieve and help you re-establish your authority as primary educator at home. THIS IS CRITICAL. The kids may push back against this but you need to claim educational leadership during this vacuum. Set alarms to keep you moving through the curriculum schedule. For younger students, keep the intervals between 10 and 20 minutes. Then take a break 90 minutes in, to do some movement. 15 minutes is plenty. Don’t skip this. It is critical. (I used to fret that if I let them play, I would lose the momentum. The opposite is true. They become invigorated.) But don’t let it drag on into lunch while you take a two-hour break. If you can move your work to the middle or end of the day and be fully present to your children, this you will never regret. Stay on it.
- PLAN AND EAT MEALS TOGETHER
News flash: You are now the cafeteria lady and the custodian of your own school. With no pay. Let’s think about that for a split second. Ok, now let’s mourn the loss of our free time and get moving. Eating together will get everyone on the same page in the house. Preparing lunch can be an activity done together. Have each child take a meal or day. Eat what you have in your cabinets. Cereal can be a meal. Tuna fish on crackers can be a meal. Obviously choose fresh and healthy whenever possible. Yet, let’s not be picky in times like these. Let’s be grateful to have toilet paper. We may not have time for elaborate food prep as we transition to schooling at home.
- DEBRIEF EACH DAY
How did we do today? What can we do better tomorrow? Tensions may be running high. So, come together with a sense of mutual humility knowing that Rome was not built in a day. Remember, DON’T EXPECT WHAT YOU DO NOT INSPECT. It will be a challenge if your student is doing everything online. But they should keep a planner, or create a sheet of paper each day: subject, assignment, time it will take me: start time, finish time. Complete? Have a daily check in with each child and help them learn how they estimated their time and whether it was accurate. This is a brilliant way to improve executive functioning for that child or teen who is “time blind.”
THIS IS A TREMENDOUS AND UNIQUE OPPORTUNITY TO HELP YOUR CHILDREN GROW.
SKILLS SUCH AS OWNERSHIP, AGENCY, ENJOYMENT OF THEIR LEARNING, TIME MANAGEMENT, EXECUTIVE FUNCTIONING, ORGANIZATION, AND TIME MANAGEMENT ARE ALL AVAILABLE FOR DEVELOPMENT NOW, UNDER YOUR CARE AND MODELING.
This will be a learning curve. If you or your child needs additional support, we are here to help. If online learning poses a challenge for your individual learner’s needs, contact us. We have excellent tutors at the ready to assist. We want to make sure your children are set up for success.
Lastly, my oldest was admitted to his first-choice boarding school on Tuesday morning. Moments later, we were alerted that this and most other schools and colleges were closing their doors for the spring. The message? We cannot rest on our laurels. We must transition efficiently and effectively to preserve our children’s learning and growth. We have to show leadership, support, alacrity and grace. Onward.