Being a full-time teacher on top of working from home is just not possible. Yet, parents have somehow managed to juggle work, home life, parenting, and teaching for almost a whole year now! Like we said in the title of this blog, parents are superheroes.
Although many of us may have managed (and even if you feel like you haven’t, trust us when we say, you’ve done amazing), it’s good to be prepared for another few weeks and months of this juggling act (just in case). Yes, schools are starting to open up slowly again but we’ve been at this point before.
To help you bring order back to your life, here are our top homeschooling tips!
13 homeschooling tips for working parents
1. Acknowledge that you are attempting the nearly impossible
You are essentially trying to do two full-time jobs (which nobody could do), so please acknowledge that this just isn’t possible. This will help you lower your standards, be less critical of yourself, and prevent disappointment. Not to mention that reminding yourself of this will help you through the difficult times.
2. Don’t be too hard on yourself
It can be so easy to not feel like you’re doing a good enough job, so set realistic expectations! Did you know that on a school day, your children spend around 2-3 hours engaged in actual formal learning? The rest of the time is taken up by assembly, break times, lunchtime, P.E, Art, moving from classroom to classroom etc.
The point that we are making is if your child is doing at least 2 hours of academic study a day during lockdown, you’re doing really well with homeschooling!
3. Set a schedule
One of the best homeschooling tips we can give is to have a schedule for your day. By all means, be flexible, but having the same morning routine will do wonders for the whole family mentally and from a productivity point of view.
What hours do your children work best? Do they concentrate more if you start the day with a joint P.E. session together? What time will you have food breaks and downtime every day? When will you concentrate on your work?
4. Get dressed in normal clothes
Sounds silly, but our pyjamas or tracksuit bottoms actually negatively impact our mood and productivity.
Start the day by getting dressed in your ‘work clothes’ and encourage your children to do the same. Even allow them to choose their wardrobe if you want to. When everyone gets dressed, this signals to both you and your children that it is the start of the workday.
5. Dedicate a ‘school space’ in the house
This will help everyone switch on for work and to switch off when work is over. Where is the best place to have school at home? Do you have a spare room which is free from interruptions? Do you have a collapsable table or maybe you can corner off half of the dining table for school activities?
6. Use the material the school sends
If you’ve got children of different ages, it can be difficult to teach them both at their developmentally appropriate levels. For secondary school children, make sure they stick as much as possible to the guidance and materials being provided by the school.
For younger children, use the materials as a guide rather than the gospel. Most primary teachers are sending out a lot more material than parents need just to provide them with ideas and support, so use them as a starting point. You don’t have to get through them all, they are more for inspiration.
7. Learn through play
For younger children, play is the main way they learn about the world and build their intelligence. If you’re finding it hard to get your children to focus or you have a particularly busy workday yourself, assign your children ‘play’ activities. Things like messy play, heuristic play, and role-playing are perfect. You can also get some paper aeroplane kits for science or playing cards for maths. Let their imagination run wild – this is learning too.
8. Be guided by their passions
Take the pressure off both of you to learn by letting your children’s passions guide their learning. Does your child love drawing? Then get them to draw to explain a key learning point from a particular lesson or topic. Do they like acting or singing? Get them to make up a song that will help them remember. If your children are interested, they will be a lot more engaged and they will learn.
9. Do more real-world activities
Homeschooling doesn’t have to be all formal learning. After all, there are so many opportunities to learn through real-world activities! For example, if you want your child to practise their English, get them to write a letter to their grandparents. If you want them to practise science or maths, get them involved with baking or counting their toys as they tidy up.
Household tasks teache valuable life skills and make children feel like they are making a contribution to the family. Help them contribute more – this will reduce stress for you both, expand their skillset, and get them learning at the same time.
10. Motivation is key
How can you make learning fun? Find out what motivates your children and make it into a competition! Is there a way you can do daily rewards, weekly rewards and monthly rewards? It could be something as simple as being able to choose what food they have at the end of the week or choosing the film for film night.
11. Reading counts as homeschooling
If they are not up for learning, don’t push it. Get them to read instead. Reading counts as homeschooling because it stimulates the imagination; it develops emotional intelligence and expands vocabulary. If they do nothing else for the rest of the day, getting in some reading time is still a job well done.
12. Avoid multi-tasking
While it may be tempting to do a bit of work and then a bit of homeschooling or even some work while you’re waiting for them to complete a task…try not to multi-task. Not only will you be less efficient and effective at both, but it will also make you feel incredibly tired.
We work best when we have uninterrupted focus so work in the morning and then it’s ‘school time’ or vice versa. Find a routine that works best for everyone (and keep them separate).
13. Don’t panic and don’t compare
One of the most important homeschooling tips is don’t panic and don’t compare. Trust us when we say, every other child in the country isn’t completing hours and hours of schoolwork every day. Every parent is just trying their best, and that’s more than enough.