Lots of children have officially returned to school, but many families still don’t feel like the time is right for them just yet, which means that homeschooling will continue for the time being.
Making the decision to manage your child’s education is a huge one that isn’t without challenges but there are ways to make it work.
You may be imagining a prolonged period of having to accept clutter and a lack of order, with it impossible to escape school surprise, but that needn’t be the case.
Employ some space-saving hacks and plan ahead to have a home in harmony. If we can create an office at home, we can create a school. Here’s how…
The kids are much more likely to be restless at the moment, so make peace with them needing to move around a bit during the day.
Incorporate some structure – having one or two designated spaces for learning will help get them in the right mindset, not just to work but also relax.
We can say the same for time. You should be flexible for your sake and theirs. They may sleep in a little later, so make a judgement call on when you start the day, but remember that children aren’t learning all day, every day. If you aim for a strong four academic hours, that’s a great start.
Bear in mind there are break times, exercise and softer skill-building in schools, while secondary schoolchildren are moving between classes for up to ten minutes several times a day which gives them a break. Learning happens outside the class, too!
Your house is full of distractions. Don’t forget, all their favourite people and playthings are at home!
If you’ve got more than one child at home, the biggest distraction will be siblings. If siblings are having trouble sharing a space, separate their desks or prop up trifold boards (tabletop screens you can buy or DIY out of a cardboard box) if they’re sat at the same table.
You don’t want to coop them up in a pokey space but if you find their focus waning, orient their workspace so they face a wall rather than into a room or out of a window.
If one of your little ones is really little and busy toddling about, a baby gate is a good solution here. A white-noise machine or a fan will drown out background sound, such as gaming or telly-watching teens.
If you let the kids do school work with music on, stick with instrumental tracks; research shows that songs with lyrics will affect concentration.
An ergonomic setup is critical for a child’s posture and productivity. If they don’t have one when they’re writing, they have to work harder. If they have to work harder, you’re going to see messy handwriting and a dip in focus.
As your child is sitting, ensure their desk is at or slightly below resting elbow height with feet firmly planted on the floor. Adjustable or kid-size tables and chairs are great, but don’t needlessly go to extra expense.
Adapt an adult seat by placing a pillow on the seat of the chair and another one behind his back to push your child forward until their knees extend a couple of inches in front of the chair. Once you’ve done that, set a box on the floor to support their feet so that their thighs are almost parallel to the ground.
You’ve got your workspaces sorted and now you need a place for your resources. Clear a bookcase or cupboard to dedicate to workbooks, textbooks, art supplies and stationary.
Allow space for some folders to store their work in so it doesn’t take away from the overall display. How you organise things is up to you but make it engaging for your kids. Perhaps designate a colour for each school subject, or a pattern per child, and then arrange supplies accordingly.
This seems drastic but it can be repurposed when things go back to normal! Utilise an empty wall by coating it with chalkboard paint and use it to teach lessons, encourage creativity or keep track of projects and tests. It can make for a really chic and useful tool for you, too!
Assemble a morning basket stuffed to the brim with all the things you need to ensure a successful school day — books, worksheets, art materials, and extracurricular activities — and set it down at the breakfast table each morning.
You might want to include snacks and fun activities in there to give them a sneak peek at what’s to come, and so they can get excited about the day ahead!
No bones about it, this is going to be tough. Balancing your role between being a parent and teacher is a big ask because it’s a completely different relationship with different expectations and boundaries.
If you haven’t had much experience with teaching your children at home thus far, allow time to establish a new routine. Please persevere as it will get easier.
Give yourself the kindness and compassion you would show to others when they are finding things hard – these are unprecedented times and we’re all doing our best!
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