Teaching Your Kids at Home

Today I work as a psychotherapist but my first career was teaching at the elementary and secondary levels plus some time spent providing home-based learning to my 2 children (now young adults). As a result, I’ve learned a few things along the way which I now invite you to consider.

NOTHING IS MORE IMPORTANT THAN YOUR RELATIONSHIP WITH YOUR CHILD. If either or both of you are feeling frustrated, angry, discouraged or overwhelmed then STOP and shift gears. The homework is not going anywhere! You are providing education in your home based on your family’s needs, schedule and situation. If what the school is asking of you works for your family then great but you don’t have to follow any other timeline than your own because this is your home and your life! This is new territory for all of us (including the teachers who also have a social distancing home life) and we navigate it to the best of our ability. Give yourself and your child a break!

DON’T LET YOUR WORRIES BECOME YOUR CHILD’S WORRIES. I have heard parents say they need their kids to do school work so they can do “their work”. Teaching your child was once someone else’s full-time job. You now have “your work” at home plus teaching your kids as a new form of work and each needs a certain degree of devoted attention. You may be setting yourself and your child up for stress if one is competing with the other and both may end up suffering. I have yet to work with an anxious child who did not have an anxious parent – just think about that for a minute. When the kids return to school, teachers will be assuming that many families were not able to keep up (whatever that means?) so they will be reviewing and planning accordingly. Again, give yourself and your child a break and do the best you can while maintaining a positive relationship!

NOTHING IS MORE IMPORTANT THAN YOUR CHILD’S RELATIONSHIP WITH LEARNING. If “formal learning” has become stressful in your home then let it go. Curriculum-based learning is one form of learning and I would suggest that, under the present circumstances, not the best for every child and family. We live in an information based society – our kids have access to so much information but how they use it is what really matters. Rich learning is about developing our ability to think critically, to create, to innovate, to collaborate and to be an engaged and thoughtful citizen of the world. Is there a better time than now to learn the lessons of what it means to be this type of citizen? To understand what’s going on in our world, including it’s geography, systems, cultures in “real time”? Is there a better time to learn to bake bread, to write songs and poems, to invent a game, to plant a garden, to prepare food, to build a shed, to write letters to the government, to support each other, to go for long walks in the sunshine …. I think not.

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