Online Schooling means having the kids at home for school lessons. This can certainly be a challenge. Parenting is a challenge and while we usually do not ask for more challenges, what if this is an opportunity for something great to happen? I have heard plenty of parents complaining about the inconvenience and the hardship that they anticipate having their kids home for schooling will create. I have also heard parents approach this new adventure to help their child face a new challenge and work together to figure it out.
Which parent are you?
Did you know that you do not have to go it alone in this new challenge? What if you AND your child looked at what needs to be done to make this work? What if you were both willing to continue to try things to see what will create the best outcome? If you are making yourself the sole decision maker, you are missing out on empowering your child to take ownership of their learning and developing a team effort that includes both of you.
Questions you can ask of you and your child:
What kind of learning space will help you be focused? Some kids like to have familiar things near them. Some kids get distracted by too much going on around them. Some kids need some added noise to focus. Be willing to try some different scenarios to see what works best. When kids learn that when one thing doesn’t work, there is always another possibility to try, it brings less stress to them to have to get it right the first time. Keep trying until you get what works best; this teaches children to be persistent.
How can you make the most of the break times? Does your child need a snack? Need to expend some energy by getting outside and walking around? Need to have a few minutes of your attention? By talking about this with your child ahead of time, they will know what to expect and what to look forward to. What will your weekends be like? Will your child need to fill in with some social time? What are they missing and are there ways that they can fill that in their off online time? This is about getting creative to bring balance to their day and to yours.
What would make this more fun? Not only for your child but for you too? You need breaks as well. Maybe this is where lunchtime becomes a special sharing time. Would your child benefit from planning something fun to do during the lunch break? Be aware of how much stimulation may be too much. Maybe your child needs a break to rest, call a friend, run around, and of course to get fueled with a lunch that they prepare ahead of time or request. There is no limit to what you and your child can create. For those with more than one child at home, take turns, listen to all ideas, create an idea jar where everyone gets to place their idea in the jar and an idea is randomly picked.
What else is possible in this situation? This is a great question to ask as a family and to allow the children see the value in staying in the question about what else can we do here that we have not thought of yet. When you stay in question, you continue to allow new possibilities to come forth and your kids will have awesome ideas as well. They may be more willing to help and cooperate when they know they are working together in the family as a team and that they and their ideas are valued.
How can we help one another? Families with more than one child will need to ask this question to remain focused on being a team. Children will often see solutions that parents overlook.
How are we feeling? It is important not to overlook your emotions or the emotions of your child. Challenges bring up emotions – frustration, anger, sadness, longing, as well as pride, joy, happiness, and peace. Being able to talk about emotions is helpful and allowing those emotions to come through rather than stuffing them, lets your child know that you are a safe place to express what is going on. Be aware of emotions that your child may be having that are being projected by you. Acknowledge what is yours and allow them to have their emotions which may be quite different.
Ask other parents what is working for them? Again, you don’t need to do this alone. Some parents are creating pods whereby they take turns having the kids, so other parents can work. If you find yourself getting frazzled, take care of yourself and maybe hire someone to come in and be with your child so you can take care of what you need. Even if it is for one day. Maybe you can find another parent to trade with. Just talking with other parents in uplifting ways can be helpful and give you added insights. Find those parents who are approaching this new challenge with an upbeat attitude, rather than one that focuses on complaining.
Ask your child what ideas they have to help with obstacles. One word of caution- as you look at the obstacles- like, what to do so that Mom or Dad can also get work done, don’t place blame on the child that you are not able to meet the needs of your family. This isn’t their fault. Kids will pick up any resentment you have towards them and may end up feeling guilty for making a hardship for the family. Your attitude in going forward and approaching this, should be one that demonstrates a “We’ve got this!” attitude, even as you are figuring it out as you go.
What is working? What isn’t working? Take time to evaluate what is going well and what isn’t. Share with your children what your perspective is and listen to what they share from their perspective. Then talk about what changes may need to be made. What can we improve on?
What will life be like when this has passed? Visualize for yourself into the future knowing that you and your children made it through this challenging time and feel the pride in knowing that you and your children came through learning more about yourselves, more about how to handle challenges in a positive, creative way and grew closer as a family. How much will having moved through this, regardless of how it turns out, demonstrate that together your family will come through adversity and be better for it.
Talk as a family what you all would like to receive from this new experience? What is most important to each of you? It may be that education isn’t the highest priority. It may be that we all find a way to do this without being overly stressed. It may be that we learn to be a family that comes together to figure out our own best possible outcome. In having this conversation, you will learn what is important to your child and they will know what is most important to you. Check in with your value and see how well it matches theirs. It’s not that your value will be the same, but knowing what is valuable to your child, and doing what you can to honor that will create less conflict. For many children, they don’t see school as valuable from the education point of view. They may see school as valuable in that: they get to learn about new things, learn to read about things that interest them, learn about the world outside and around them, explore how things work, meet new friends, learn how to be sociable, and to have fun play with others. In this sense, these too may be just as valuable to you.
Keep your sense of humor. Being able to laugh in the midst of adversity releases pent up energy. It allows your child to see that nothing is so serious that we can’t laugh. The benefits of laughter for our health and well-being are numerous. And laughter can be a wonderful stress buster and brings in chemicals that are good for us and for our brains.
We live in uncertain times. In truth, we always live in uncertain times. There is no telling how long this school challenge will last, but I am certain that it won’t be the last challenge you face as a family. As you venture through this one, know that you will be stronger for what the future holds and your child will have new skills for facing new endeavors.
Mary shares her desire to create different possibilities for families and individuals who are looking to live a more conscious and aware lifestyle. BE YOU Parenting is for parents who want to BE all that they truly BE and to allow their kids the same privilege.