Anxiety, Asking for help, Bored Kids, Choices, Conflicting Advice, Empowering, Home Schooling, Life challenges, Lockdown, Motivation, planning, Unhelpful Feelings

Top Tips for Parents; Home Schooling and The Lockdown

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I’m now into day 6 of being on total lock down in Spain. What does that mean? It means I haven’t left the house/garden even though there are listed reasons I could leave i.e. going to buy food or medicines.

I’ve never home schooled and whilst Im used to 11 weeks off in the summer with my kids, two weeks on lock down is a whole new experience. So here’s what I’ve learned and what’s keeping my home a happy one! I know there’s a lot of people out there worrying about how to survive the next few weeks and I’m pretty sure that’s simply because you’re not prepared for it. If like me you’re not a teacher, there’s a year of training at university and your about to try and do that job with a weekend to prepare so be kind to yourself if you don’t ace it on the first day. There’s always tomorrow. So let’s get ready….here are my top tips.

  1. Plan plan plan... Break the day into one hour (or less) time slots. Get up, get dressed like it’s a normal day. Put the plan in a visible place and talk about it, together! Agree and respect the plan which includes;

2. Tag team– Let one adult stay in bed with a cuppa, read or do some exercise alone . – Put your own oxygen mask on first! . If you are the only adult, let the ‘square nanny’ help (AKA The TV!). Incentivise the kids to be ready quickly for a bonus 30 mins cartoon time before school. Use this time for you!

3. School Work and Resources – “10am-11am Maths” – you need to have prepared for this way before 10am. It’s taking me on average at least 5ish minutes for each child to read and digest the lingo from the school and be ready to explain the task to the kids. (I’ve learned soooo much stuff this week I can tell you!). Create a nice, comfortable and organised space for school work. Get all the necessary stationary ready and keep the area tidy. If possible a different space where other tasks take place. I highly recommend a Facebook group @Covid19Communityclassroom for further tips/info/things to do. The BBC has lots of cool stuff for younger kids.

4. Exercise- Joe Wicks has some amazing workouts especially for kids on YouTube. Get the kids to search for, pick and do them 2/3 times a day. They love them and this gives you crucial meal/lesson prep/ time alone. Or join in! Put some music on and dance around! Get the blood flowing and raise energy levels. Whatever floats your boat. (Obvers if you live in the UK you can leave the house, go for walks etc.)

5. Rewards and Fun- I’ve got a tub of marbles (you can use pasta or anything you have in a decent quantity) each representing 5 mins ‘technology’ time. The kids are rewarded marbles for completing school work, attitude, helpfulness, creative fun ideas etc. I’ve written a list of jobs and attached a value to them e.g. Tidy bedroom = one marble. I’m also taking them away if necessary. The irony is not lost on me that we could ‘loose our marbles’! This system is simple, quick, visual, immediate, linked to something they want and I want them to have it too so I’m motivated to find opportunities to praise and reward them!

6. External Pressures– Turn off the news!!!! It’s hideous, full of rubbish/non facts/scare mongering. The important information will filter through to you from reliable and rational sources. Protect yourself from mood hoovering people. Stay in contact with friends/family who can filter the rubbish and send only positive/helpful messages.

7. Bedtime– I’ve seen some routine planners that reward kids with staying up late if they stick to the plan. I want my kids in bed on time, if not earlier than normal, with a book so that I can ‘put my oxygen mask on first’. I’m also trying to work in the evenings.

8. Realistic Expectations – if the first plan doesn’t work, adjust it. My first attempt was unrealistic. I thought I could do my own Spanish homework whilst trying to get the kids established into a good routine at home. Don’t beat yourself up- take a breath. Only at day 3 did I find time to do my work during the day. When I tried to work on previous days my patience was compromised.

9. ‘BOB The Box’ – like the exercise, you don’t need to entertain your kids 24/7, kids can do a lot alone, encourage independence. Again, I’ve seen some planners suggest ‘family walks’ that’s nice but I like to exercise my way and I need some time alone. Also, we can’t leave the house to walk.. …..technicality :-). We’ve got a thing at home called BOB The Box, this isn’t a new thing for us but Bob is on overtime this week! Bob is a box with pieces of paper in. Each peice of paper has written on it things the kids like to do e.g. Painting, Hama beans, jigsaws, Lego etc. When they don’t know what to do, they get Bob to help. The kids named and made this themselves…. Another independent job for them to do whilst you do something else.

10. Choose your mood and words. This week I published a post about how we talk to our kids. Never has this approach been more important to me, have a look and give it a go. It’s a worrying time for everyone, especially kids. It’s our job as the adults to help them through this and give them a safe and happy environment. I’d be lying if I said I’ve been as cool as a cucumber all week, I’ve had my moments but I’ve felt it coming, taken a breath and reminded myself why I’m doing this and how I want to feel at the end of it. Proud! Proud of how me and my family have taken on the challenge, worked together and thrived. One of my favourite quotes ever is ‘whether you think you can, or you think you can’t, you’re probably right’. If you think lockdown/homeschooling is going to be awful; I promise you it will be awful and you are going to feel some very unhelpful feelings. If you think, I’ve got this and it’s going to be fine; equally I promise you, you’re right!

If there is any aspect of the events you’re struggling with, drop me a note. I’m always open to suggestions and inspirations for my next blog.

I’m also offering video Whatapp coaching sessions on an evening if you want some extra support. Get in touch, I’d love to hear from you.

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