So what do you do when you find yourself a ‘school-at-home’ parent by necessity, not conviction or convenience? Many parents around the planet are in this spot these days. If you’re dreading yet another home schooling day, have a read here and learn from a ‘professional’ who’s homeschooling her five children. Five? Yes, five.
Seasoned homeschool parents
As a mom of five kids, ranging from ages 8-14, who have grown up in Malaysia, we have had a variety of school experiences. In the past 10 years, one or more of my gang of five have attended Fairview International School in Penang, Praise Homeschool Center in Butterworth and GEMS International School in Batu Kawan (mainland Penang). Right now we are homeschooling all of them in Kuala Lumpur. Each stage and season has been unique, and this new MCO season is not different. I may have been doing this ‘learning at home thing’ a bit longer than the newly formed force of ‘school-at-home’ parents, but I still struggle. Some days I want to pull out my hair, and yet there are moments of joy and hope.
Tips for thriving through this ‘school-at-home’ season
- Breathe deep
This is for parents, for kids as well as their teachers. Take time to get exercise and follow spiritual practices that will bring peace and give life to your heart as a caregiver and teacher. Help your kids relax and find peace too. Ask them: “How are you today?”
- Get enough rest
Don’t underestimate the need for both you and your child to get proper rest during this time. Get enough sleep at night. You could also try a ‘period of quiet’ (this can be 10, 30, or 60 minutes), where each member of the family can grab a book, paint a picture or do anything without extra noise from a device or screen.
- Create space
Take a good look at your living space. How many people do you have in your home? What would be the best way to divide it all up? If one or both parents work, decide together on a schedule of where and when the home office will be and who’s on kid duty. For a few hours each day, it’s important that one of you focuses on assisting your child in getting their required work done. It is also important to ensure that you can enjoy some bonding time together.
- Celebrate small wins
Look for the ways you can praise and encourage your child. Often our kids are actually adjusting to this major life change better than we are. Talk with them and focus on the positive. Praise them for their patience enduring the unknown.
- Use online resources wisely
If it is a requirement to complete the home learning programme their school has set up, your child will need to be online. You may select classes or learning programmes that he or she is particularly interested in. One of the benefits of doing your own homeschooling, is that you can let your brilliant prodigy follow their heart by learning what their interests and multiple intelligences are, since all kids learn in a different way. Find more info about that here. But moderation is key – not only for video games, movies, and so on, but also for online learning.
6. Research extracurricular activities
Learning can and should be fun! In our house there has been a steep increase in playing Pictionary, Monopoly and even family games of Cranium. My 14-year-old is adding to the blog she started this year. My three boys have been inspired this week to start their own Youtube channel of trick shots and other deep insightful deviations of learning.
7. Spend time reading aloud together
Whether it’s with dad, or mom, or grandma or whoever, one-on-one read aloud time is precious. You can choose to read not only the classics but those books you enjoy. Here’s a link to a few resources.
8. View your child as your friend and not your enemy
This may sound simple, but it’s soooo easy to take out misplaced fears and frustrations on those closest to us – our kids. Interruptions and questions are a chance to connect, not a distraction from your more important work project.
9. Remember this is a season
You won’t be schooling at home forever. Eventually the government school or international school will reopen. Your child will go from spending nearly all day cooped up with you, to not having enough time for you. Turn a uniquely challenging time into your kids’ (and possibly your own) favourite ‘together’ memory.
10. Resilience is key
After writing the above nine tips, you may have a grandiose idea that I somehow keep these? Instead, I fail often – you can ask my kids or husband. Building resilience is crucial. So fellow ‘school-at-home’ parents, let’s choose today to have hope, get up again when we fall, and smile at the unknown future with certainty of the positive outcomes possible with our precious children.