Homeschooling can feel daunting and overwhelming. Our children’s teachers are working hard to give us access to academic content and activities to keep our children engaged. However, in my experience, knowing what to teach is not quite as important, or as difficult as, how to teach it. Let’s face it, children do not always sit and engage attentively when presented with academic tasks. In fact, it is difficult for children to sit and learn new material for an extended period of time, especially if it’s something new or difficult. I am getting a lot of questions from parents about how long a child should be required to attend, or how long each lesson should be. I would like to encourage parents to re-frame their thinking when it comes to homeschooling. Rather than thinking about how long school lessons and activities should be, think about how much your child needs to complete. For example, I can say I will clean my house for 30 minutes, which may or may not accomplish much. That is different than saying I will clean 2 toilets, empty 4 trash bins, complete one load of laundry, and vacuum every single bedroom. With online schooling
As many of us prepare to begin homeschooling lessons for our school aged children, I wanted to share a few tips for how to manage your children’s behaviors and attention when you present them with their schoolwork. Creating a schedule for the day is an excellent start. To add to that, I am going to encourage you to create small task sheets for each academic subject.
- Establish an overarching schedule outlining sections of the day
- Within each academic task, clearly define how much needs to be completed
- This will be guided by your child’s teacher, but you will need to monitor how they are working and adjust.
- Total number of math problems to complete, total number of sentences to write, total number of pages to read.
- Define a transition activity as well – show mom your work, email your teacher, etc.
- Create checklists at the beginning of each day with the goal of marking off each task and adjust each day as you learn what is doable.
- Monitor your child’s mood, focus and effort. Plowing through work is going to lead to arguments and frustration. If you notice your child losing focus or becoming frustrated, offer a break and then come up with a plan for how to ask a teacher for help.
- If you become frustrated as a parent, take a personal break. You can model for your child how to recognize frustration and a need for a break. Share with your child, “This is getting hard, and I am getting frustrated. I need to take a short break and then come back to this to come up with a plan.”
- Provide brief breaks every 15 minutes – these are just to get up and come back to work
- Get a drink of water
- Get a snack
- Do 10 push ups
- Feed the dog
- Check the mail
**Dr. Toplis and Dr. Makofske are available to schedule sessions with parents for how to work with their children during this time. Our area of expertise is supporting parents and children with interventions and supports tailored to their strengths and areas of need.