I wasn’t meant to be a teacher! Part 2

HOMESCHOOLING DURING A PANDEMIC

I don’t know about you, but I check the weather almost every day before I leave the house (remember when we could leave the house?). Knowing what the day will bring helps me plan many aspects of my day – what shoes to wear, whether or not I need a jacket, etc. What seems like such a small detail – the weather – can give me a sense of control over the rest of my day.

Forecast, Forecast, Forecast

Much like knowing the weather for the day makes me feel more in control and ready for the day, forecasting for our kids helps them know what is coming for the day, which can help them prepare for and understand what is expected of them. This is particularly true during this time of COVID-19, because while it feels like Groundhog’s Day and every day feels the same, there are a lot of nuanced changes that are sometimes hard for our kids to understand and respond to.

What forecasting looks like for homeschooling during COVID:

“Today we have to do 2 math assignments and one reading.”

“Don’t forget, tomorrow you have a call with your teacher right after lunch.”

“We’re going to have to do your schoolwork after dinner tomorrow night, because I have to work during the day.”

Forecasting pairs well with offering choices, which I discussed in my previous post. For example: “Today we have to do 2 math assignments and one reading (Forecasting). Which one do you want to do first (Choices)? Again, it’s about giving kids control over small aspects of their life, which we all crave and want. Sometimes even with these tools though, we’re not able to do what we need to, because our kids are out of resources.

Know the Signs

While there are several strategies to get your kids to cooperate and actually do what you’re asking them to do, there are some times when this just isn’t going to happen, or at least it’s not going to happen easily, or go particularly well. It’s important that we recognize when our kids are unable, which is different than unwilling, to do what we’re asking. To help you remember, just think of the word HALT – and think about adjusting your expectations when your kids are Hungry, Angry, Lonely, or Tired.

As an adult, I know that I am not my best, particularly when I’m hungry or tired. I am a person who tends to get hangry (or “hungry mad” as my son says), and if I don’t get enough sleep, I am not always the easiest person to be around. Adults have so many more resources and skills than children, and when kids are feeling hungry, angry, lonely, or tired, they often just aren’t able to process what’s going on and respond appropriately. Sometimes this means we can feed them breakfast and then they are able to regroup, or we spend some alone time with them and they’re immediately more regulated and ready to work. Sometimes though, we have to pay attention to the signs and know when to throw in the towel.

A couple of weeks ago, my kids came home from my sister’s, who is their nanny while my husband and I are working. She had given me a heads up that they played really hard outside all day and were pretty tired. I knew as soon as they came in the door that they were exhausted and probably not capable of much. There was lots of tears and yelling, without anything meaningful coming out. Now usually, we start schoolwork as soon as they get home, and work for about an hour. But I could see right away that putting a lot of demands on my son on this night probably wasn’t going to go well. I made one statement about starting work, saw that he started crying and shut down, and I let it go.

Now I know that at this point, many parents view my response to him as inappropriate. I’ve heard all kinds of things, including, ‘he’s manipulating you,’ ‘you’re letting him get away with anything,’ ‘he’s got to learn to obey,’ etc. And while I understand the thought process behind these statements, I simply disagree. I believe that behavior is language, particularly for children, and I view my son’s response to my request as his language, screaming “I CAN’T DO THIS RIGHT NOW!” As a parent, I choose to listen to him and help him learn how to advocate for himself appropriately, and get his needs met. I could choose to dig in my heels and demand that he sit at the table and do his work, but I am certain it would be miserable for us both, and he probably still wouldn’t get everything done because I would get so frustrated that I would eventually give up.

I also disagree that I’m letting him get away with anything, or get out of working. The work will get done. We’ll go back at it again tomorrow and come up with a plan together to catch up, but for today, I choose to feed him dinner, play a game with him, and put him to bed. And throughout that process I’m talking to him and teaching him what he feels like when he’s tired, how he knows he’s not able to work right now, and the importance of communicating all of that to his family so that we can all help him. In many ways, I believe those lessons are much more important than the math worksheet we were supposed to complete that night.

We’re Here to help!

At PSG, we have trained therapists to help you manage during this difficult time. Whether you need a space to process your own thoughts and feelings, or your child needs additional support as they try to work through all the recent changes, we’re here to help!

Ready to take the next step? Request an appointment

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