If you’re a parent or caregiver to a school-aged kid, chances are you’ve found yourself learning grammar or long division again—only this time, the teacher is on Zoom. And you’re fighting with the technology of uploading your child’s digital work. And trying to run a household. And maybe attempting to work yourself.
For many families around the world, school from home will be around for at least a few more months. While it’s not easy to juggle all those priorities (and all that tech!), it’s possible to make the experience a little better for both you and your kids.
The expectations around school and the pressure parents put on their kids can create a lot of stress. Whether your child is co-working with you at the living room table or back in the classroom, these 5 tips will help you both ace the semester:
- Discover your child’s learning style. Some kids find it easy to work independently while others need activity and collaboration. Find out which learning styles your child responds to best and help shape their experiences accordingly. Independent thinker? Give them time and space to study and work on their own. Collaborative mind? Encourage them to schedule more Zoom sessions with their classmates. Catering to their unique style will help your kid have a more positive experience.
- Encourage their hobbies. Who says education has to be by the book? Let your kids explore and expand their non-academic skills, like cooking, baking, drawing, or dancing. These skills are just as important as geometry or social studies. What matters is that they find ways to become engaged with something they care about. Their hobbies may change over time, but the ability to dig into an area of interest has lifelong benefits.
- Use the resources available. Look around you: you have a wealth of educational resources online and in your neighborhood. Coordinate a book swap with a classmate or neighbor. Hold biology class outside to look for real-life examples of the concepts your child is learning. Sign up for online guitar lessons (Youtube can teach you to do just about anything these days). Let your own creativity expand the options beyond the school’s lesson plan and the oh-so-many online worksheets.
- Design a schedule for learning. Children thrive with some structure in place—adults, too! It’s important that children have a dedicated time and place for school activities. Work with your child to develop their own little study nook in the house, and help them identify the best time for activities like homework and studying. While they may not be able to dictate their entire schedule, your child should definitely have input in this process.
- Don’t focus on the grades. Try not to be overly preoccupied with your child’s grades, especially during this wild and crazy year. Becoming too grade obsessed can give a kid the impression that their confidence or self-worth should be tied to competency. We have to constantly remind our children that love is not something they have to earn or acquire by doing well in school or being a “perfect” human. We are worthy of love and belonging simply because we’re alive and breathing. Work to be more forgiving if your child scores lower than expected on a test. And forgive yourself if you feel like a less than perfect teacher. Our children’s achievements are not a reflection of us!
One thing is certain: the school-from-home era has been a learning experience for all of us. Learning always means growth, which gives you and your child the opportunity to deepen your relationship and come together as a team. Besides, not everyone gets a chance to relive their school days.
If you and your child struggle to talk about school, my free ebook may help. I wrote 7 Strategies to Keep Your Relationship With Your Kids from Hitting the Boiling Point to give every parent the tools they need to improve their communication with their child, especially around hot-button issues like homework and grades. Grab your copy today.