We all know that it is extremely challenging to homeschool children and work at the same time. Many parents are working early in the morning and late into the night so they can homeschool their children during the day. Some parents are managing babies and toddlers whilst supervising older children. These daily struggles on top of other worries mean most parents are physically and mentally exhausted.
Here we share some ideas to support you and your family to cope over the coming weeks. We also share some of the positives of homeschooling to keep you going!
How can I work from home with a young family?
The answer is, of course, with great difficulty. By now you have probably found a way to manage. You might be homeschooling in ‘shifts’ with your partner or working very early and/or late in the day.
The most important thing is to try not to overstretch yourself. For example, if you are working early in the morning do not regularly work late into the night. Looking after young children is hard work and nobody can maintain such a gruelling routine for long without becoming run down or unwell.
If you are struggling to juggle, speak to your employer about their family policies and discuss how you can work more flexibly. Most employers know that the health and wellbeing of their workforce is paramount to the success of their business.
If you have no choice but to work for an hour or two during the day then you cannot teach young children at the same time. Don’t feel guilty if your children are spending time on the tablet so you won’t be interrupted – at the end of the day, you have work to put food on the table. Equally, when your children need you do not feel guilty for stopping to put their needs first.
Why is it a good idea to follow a routine?
Establishing a daily routine can help us to feel a little more in control of our lives. It can also help us get through the day by breaking it into bitesize chunks. Your routine needs to work for you rather than against you by being flexible (what else can it be when you are caring for young children?).
Children learn better and feel more comfortable when there is some routine to their day. Whatever routine you establish it is best to make sure your child gets up and goes to bed at roughly the same time every day, that they have regular mealtimes and regular breaks where they are active outdoors.
Do live classes suit your family?
Like secondary schools, most primary schools are now providing ‘live’ classes online alongside links to online learning that can be completed at children’s own pace.
For some families live classes are helpful as their child will sit and listen to their teacher and work independently. However, live classes do not suit every family. The timing may be difficult due to the parent’s work routine or the child may not be benefitting from them.
If live classes are more of a nuisance than a benefit consider whether it is worth doing them. Make the choice that is right for your child and your family life and talk to your child’s teacher. Schools have a duty of care and will regularly ‘check-in’ to make sure everything is alright and to find out if they can offer any further help.
Are you feeling guilty about screen time?
Your child is probably spending more time in front of a screen than they usually would. Not only are they likely to be learning online but they may also be playing computer games. Screens are a saviour for many (if not most!) parents at the moment.
Children who are deprived of friends, clubs and their usual activities may seek more one-to-one attention from parents who are struggling to juggle work and daily chores. Screens can free parents to get things done and possibly have two minutes breathing space.
However, we can’t escape the fact that hours of screen time in a day is not healthy. Too much screen time may cause difficulty sleeping, behavioural issues and physical problems, but what can we do about it?
We need to accept that these are difficult times and children are going to spend more time on screens than we would like – this might just be a habit we have to break when school returns. What we can do is try our best to balance out the day with learning experiences that are not screen-based. Here are some ideas:
- Read and share books together.
- Do arts and crafts. If you are not ‘crafty’ you could buy ready-to-use kits. See Baker Ross, The Works and Mud & Bloom.
- Print out worksheets from school or the Twinkl website. Twinkl are currently providing free resources for parents.
- Use educational workbooks like those published by Collins.
- Skim through our old blog posts, How to incorporate maths into your child’s everyday life and Encouraging reluctant readers by taking reading outdoors for active maths and English ideas to get you thinking.
How does fresh air help?
Taking breaks to go outside during the day is important for the whole family.
Many people who are working from home are spending longer hours sitting at a desk than they would if they were in the office. With no health and safety department to do ‘desk checks’ bad backs and stiff necks are the order of the day!
Going for a quick daily walk or playing a ten-minute game of football or swingball can be PE for the whole family. Children who might be reluctant to go out in the cold might be encouraged to do so if they can take their favourite toys outside. They could search for minibeasts under stones, dig holes ‘to Australia’, chalk out roads, or just stomp about in the frost. There are plenty of studies highlighting all the ways fresh air is good for us. Time outdoors lifts our mood improving our blood pressure and heart rate and strengthening our immune system. It gives us breathing space to think (especially if children are busily engaged) and it wakes us up and sharpens our minds.
Are there any positives to homeschooling in a pandemic?
Homeschooling is not for everybody. Those who homeschooled their children before the pandemic will tell you that this is a very different experience. Pre-pandemic their children regularly met with other children, they attended groups, they might have gone ice-skating or learnt in a museum.
Even so, there are still some positives parents might take from this experience, and some may resonate with you:
- Your child’s reading may improve. Teachers rarely hear individual children read more than once a week because the curriculum is so packed. Reading is the cornerstone of children’s education so if you are reading with (and to) your child every day this is a significant benefit.
- You can pace learning to suit your child. If they are finding something difficult you can stop to explain further, and if something is easy you can skip forward and move on. With around thirty children in a class personalised learning is hard to achieve at school.
- Your child can spend more time doing the things they love. For example, if your child is interested in birds they could find out and write about birds and engage in a whole project about them.
- You can learn with your child. Children might be learning about subjects you find interesting too. You could even go out of your way to learn a new skill together. For example, you might learn a language with BBC Muzzy, research a period in history, or learn a craft.
- Although it won’t always feel that way, being at home can bring you and your children closer together and strengthen the bond between you.
Top tip for staying sane
On the weekends play games together with willing members of the family. Whether it’s Monopoly, a chasing game in the garden, watching a funny YouTube video or a silly film – it doesn’t matter as long as it makes everybody smile.
Try to make time to do something you want to do; this could be taking exercise, learning a new skill, arts and crafts or lying in a bubble bath. If you have a partner you could manage childcare in ‘shifts’.
We all need enjoyment and laughter to help the daily load feel a little bit lighter.
TutorMyKids – Support with homeschooling
If you think your child would benefit from extra one-to-one support during this time, TutorMyKids can help you. We offer private tuition to children and young people of ages and all our tutors are currently working online. Our tutors specialise in maths, English, science, humanities and languages.
Every tutor is highly qualified and experienced. They know how to motivate children to perform to the best of their ability, even during these difficult times.
If you are juggling homeschool and work and would like extra support for your child contact us today: firstname.lastname@example.org /01223 858 421