Building Resilience: Making it Work
Making it Work
- Tackling schoolwork with your child from home? Let’s acknowledge that this is a huge challenge. Award yourself and your kids some “Homeschool Hero” badges because you all deserve it!
- Just a few things to keep in mind as you all adjust to this new reality of doing school from home:
- Do not expect perfection from your children or yourself!
- Kids tend to behave differently at home with caregivers and siblings than they would at school with teachers and peers. It’s (probably) harder for you to take the teaching role with them.
- Create a schedule to help your child know when it’s schoolwork time and when it’s time for other activities. Morning might be a good time for schoolwork, when kids are rested and fresh. But keep in mind that your schoolwork schedule will be different for different families.
- In addition to classwork online or with academic materials, remember to build in time during the day for:
- “Recess” – outdoor activity and movement
- Creative play – blocks, dollhouses, art materials, cars and trucks…
- Sensory play – movement, playdough, play in water, sandbox…
- Focused fun time with parent/caregiver – they’ll enjoy having your full, positive attention even for short periods of playtime
- Alone time – children benefit from some solitary play and rest time too. With oversight to ensure safety, children under 2 years may only be able to play on their own for a few minutes; 3-year-olds for up to 10 or 15 minutes; 4-year-olds for about 20 minutes; and 5 years and older for 30 minutes or more.
- Snack time – keep your child hydrated and re-energized with snacks.
- Rest time – need we say more? We all need some time to just chill!
- Chores and other responsibilities (particularly for older children)
- Include stress-relieving activities – does reading relieve stress for your child? Or maybe it’s climbing the tree in your backyard. Or cuddle-time with you. Make sure they get some of that stress relief time every day.
- Make sure that there is screen-free time during the day, for the other types of play, interaction, and rest mentioned above.
- Consider space for your child’s schoolwork. Is there a relatively quiet corner or room where you child can work? Can you store school supplies in that area so they can be found easily? Can you add something to make it comfortable (a pillow to sit on when watching online instruction)?
- Every child is different – you will be learning what your child needs from you to maximize their ability to tackle schoolwork:
- How much support does your child need? Does she need your help getting started but then focuses well on her own for up to 30 minutes? Does he do well with reading assignments but get frustrated with math? Do they focus well for half an hour but get distracted and fidgety after that?
- As you get a sense of when and how your child works best, you can adapt the schedule and when and how you give extra support to help them. Maybe with one child you need to remind them to take breaks before they become cranky. Maybe with another child you need to sit next to them for the first 10 minutes to get them going. Maybe one child needs a short stretch break every 15 minutes.
- Remember that every child is different, and that age, temperament, interests, and learning styles affect how they approach and accomplish schoolwork. Also realize that kids are different in terms of how well they pay attention, how well they tolerate frustration, how well they work independently, and how persistent they are.
- Vary the length of learning sessions to suit your child’s needs and remember to build in breaks.
- Praise effort much more than the outcome!! Praise will encourage your child to keep working and will help them feel good about their efforts!
- When you focus on giving praise, it also helps you remember to notice how much they’re trying and what they’re doing well.
- Start where they are with your praise; they want to please you! If your child is only able to focus for 5 minutes, start by praising them when they focus and work for small periods of time - “Good job working hard on that problem!”
- Again, praise effort more than the outcome! “I love how you kept trying even though that sentence was hard,” “You did a wonderful job sticking with that whole page of questions,” or, “I’m proud of you for paying attention while your teacher was talking.”
- Incentives – Having additional motivation when work is tough can be helpful. Maybe your child can earn a star after every assignment they finish, and if they earn five stars they get an extra story at bedtime. Or an incentive can be that when you finish this math page, we’ll take our break and walk around the block.
- Pick your battles. Parenting is a marathon, not a sprint! When frustration is building, take a breath and ask yourself how much this battle is worth the cost. If a situation with your child is pushing you over the edge from being firm but kind, it’s probably not worth it. Take a break and try again later.
- There will be mistakes. There will be tears. There will also be laughter, pride, and growth. Be gracious, kind, and forgiving with yourself and your kids!
- Find additional resources and ideas about schooling at home:
Note: Mental health is always important, but during times of crisis it is paramount. The following guidelines are designed to support you in finding ways to cope, understanding how to practice self-care, and nurturing your connection with your child. Building Resilience: Parenting During a Pandemic is a joint effort between Louisiana Children's Museum and Tulane Institute of Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health.
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