Hi parents and caregivers!
First things first, you’ve been busy, there’s a lot going on, you’ve suddenly become a home-school parent, you have a ‘new normal’ – adjustments to make. So, will you do something with me? Let’s take a deep breath in…and…breathe out! This gets some oxygen going to your brain, and fun fact, this calms your brain down! Doesn’t that feel better?
Take it one day at a time, God is with you, trust Him to take you through this present situation, this adjustment to our ‘new normal’, which is not for ever, but for now.
This time our focus is education at home – some tips to help ‘make it work!’
Be kind to yourself:
• This is a new situation for you (your child, teachers, I.T. support, etc) and there have probably been ‘teething difficulties’, it will settle, but if you need help, ask, e.g. a family member!
• If you have a tough day, remember tomorrow is another day!
You may not be a teacher, but you can bring your talents and skills to home schooling, it could be:
• Organisational skills
• Skill in subjects your child are learning, e.g. Maths, English, Drama, Sport, Art, Music, etc.
• Listening skills, etc.
Focus on what you can do rather than what you can’t do! This is new for your child as well! Some children will be fine with distance education (understanding the work, etc) and other children will find it a struggle. You may notice a change in your child’s behaviour, because children’s feelings come out in their behaviour*
*check out the resources on the VLCC website for more info on feelings and behaviour- under tips for talking to your children about coronavirus.
Some tips to help you manage your ‘classroom’:
• If you aren’t already, have your child do their work during normal school hours – stick to normal routine.
• Set clear expectations, e.g. where your child will be working, when you want them to start, and let your child know when he/she will be having a break, etc.
• Set the tone for the environment:
if you’ve had a rushed morning, before ‘school at home’, take time, to settle yourself and your child, so that you have the right environment for learning to begin (i.e. not stressed and unsettled).
Ideas to help y’all settle:
Start with prayer –acknowledge what the morning has been like, how you and your child feel and ask for God to give you and your child peace, to help your child as he/she works, etc.
Taking some deep breaths (like we did at the beginning).
• Use positive statements and directives, e.g. say, ‘walk’ rather than ‘don’t run’, ‘use your inside voice’ rather than ‘don’t shout.’
• Schedule breaks for your children (e.g. address restlessness), e.g. a brain break (check this out online – find ones that suit your child’s age range).
• As humans we often focus on the problems and what is not going well. Shift your focus and begin to notice, what is going well during the ‘school at home’ hours. Aim to focus on solutions rather than problems. Ask yourself:
What is working well?
When do difficult things not happen?
What helps your child cope?
What comforts your child and makes them feel better?
What helps them calm down? (step in before it escalates, to help settle your child).
• Give your child praise that will help lead to growth:
Good job focusing on your work
When your child has mastered something: Wow, all your work paid off – you’ve mastered this! You’ve got this!(Praising the effort that lead to the learning outcome –effort and strategies, etc).
If your child thinks he/she can’t do it: Firstly, acknowledge the energy your child has put in and then address the issue: “It’s great to see you are working so hard on this, you’ve tried strategies that haven’t worked…what other strategies can you try?”
• When your child is working on something challenging:
Normalise mistakes (everyone makes mistakes) and failing (some children don’t want to try things because they think they will fail, and they think: “I failed, therefore I am a failure”).
Help your child understand:
If I fail, I am not a failure. I can try again. “If something is not working, do something different. If something is working, do it again.”
Everyone makes mistakes; it is a part of the learning process. What is valuable is thinking about the mistake, so we can learn from it. When your child makes a mistake, rather than acting as if a mistake or failure is negative (“Don’t worry, not everyone is good at… “), present a mistake or failure as a way to enhance learning. For example, say, “Ok, what is this teaching us?” “Where should we go next?” “Should we talk to your teacher about how we can learn this better at our next meeting?” Do this so your child can begin to understand that we can develop abilities and learn from mistakes, our mistakes help us grow, if we think about them as something that enhances our learning. When we learn from our mistakes, we don’t make the exact same mistake next time, and as we persevere and try another way, it helps us on the way to the solution. It may take time, effort, strategy and practice – but you will be able to learn this/do this! You can do it! You’ve got this!
Just because it’s tricky*, doesn’t mean I won’t be able to do it! Encourage your child to take on challenging tasks.
(Word usage: although ‘tricky’ has an element of challenge, it also sounds like it is ‘doable’ – but for some children ‘difficult’ sounds too hard to try). Use growth mindset to help your child.
Growth Mindset: “In a growth mindset, people believe that their most basic abilities can be developed through dedication and hard work—brains and talent are just the starting point. This view creates a love of learning and a resilience that is essential for great accomplishment.” (Dweck, 2015) Growth mindset ideas to use:
If your child is struggling to understand something, intervene before they get to the point of being overwhelmed:• Let your child know: although he/she can’t do it YET(emphasise yet), but with time, effort and practice he/she will be able to do it! Give your child an example, of the power of YET, e.g. when they learnt to walk, ride a bike, etc. At first it can feel like you won’t figure it out, but it will get easier as you spend time, effort, practice, trying different strategies, etc.
If your child is starting to get overwhelmed, one of the strategies below might help: (Remember you know best, what makes your child tick, you might have other strategies that work).
Speak calmly:• Take a deep breath and then…tell me about what is happening…I’d like to hear about it…• Count to ten and then… • Squeeze your stress ball 8 times and then…
And hey, you’ve got this!
Dr. Caroline Leaf
Roffey, S. The new teacher’s guide to survival guide to behaviour
Wright, H.N. It’s Okay to Cry
Anderson, J. It’s not as simple as “Praise Effort.”
Worsley, L. The resilience doughnut: the secret of strong kids
Dweck, C.S. Mindset: changing the way you think to fulfil your potential
The ABC’s of making mistakes with a growth mindset (free printable), gozen.com.
Carol Dweck explains the false growth mindset. the Atlantic.com