I’ve heard from a number of amazing, well-intentioned parents, that they are feeling frustrated with the whole teach and work from home process. There were some fun moments and some crazy moments, but right now, it feels frustrating, exhausting and well… it feels like it’s been going on long enough!
Since I’ve heard similar challenges so frequently, especially more recently, I decided to share some top tips to help reduce the frustration that’s causing parenting and teaching at home to be even more challenging (not to mention the other parts of life… like our relationships, house maintenance and cleaning, etc).
Consistency. For them and for us, consistency is key.
The following are tips that parents can apply on a regular basis, to help set their child up for success, as well as to significantly reduce frustration and stress on the part of both parent and child.
Craft a School Schedule and stick to it.
Even if you don’t want to create a general daily schedule for the household, setting a static schedule for schooling is incredibly powerful.
How to craft an effective schedule:
- Create it together. Kids buy-in more when they are involved in the process. Have them choose pictures to go along with the visual for the schedule, or create options for certain time frames and allow them to be a part of the choosing process for which subject will be done at which time.
- Chunk tasks & times. Set a particular chunk of time for a particular subject and don’t bring another subject into that timeframe. Humans are not actually meant to be as multi-focused as we are. The more we can focus on one thing, the more productive we are.
- Breaks. Focusing on too much work for too long is enough to annoy all of us- parent and child alike. Schedule brief breaks throughout the schooling time. Maybe even create a fun word for them. My kids school calls these “brain breaks”. Have your child get up and move or grab a snack or drink for a few minutes before transitioning to the next subject. Some kids will like this, other will get in “the zone” and just want to go from one subject to the next. Either one is okay as long as you are checking in to find your child’s unique sweet spot. Notice when they start to get mentally fatigued (whining and complaining may amp up), this is likely a sign that a break is needed.
- Clear & Simple. Don’t we love to over-complicate schedules sometimes? Simply grab the subjects that need to be addressed, identify about how much time your child may need to complete them throughout the week, and craft a daily schedule based on what you come up with. Getting too fancy with a schedule can cause confusion, and when kids are confused they get stressed. A stressed out kid can’t do as well with thinking, focus, memory or attention.
- Stick to it. Schedules are only powerful when they are actually applied. If you schedule 20 minutes for math, then have your child do 20 minutes of math and whatever is not done during those 20 minutes just waits until tomorrow. Once stress amps up, everyone is less productive. Choose time frames that are age appropriate for your child or stress will naturally get created by sheer inability of the brain to pay attention too long due to developmental stage and age.
- Specific Environment. Identify or create a spot that they sit/lay/stand (whichever feels best for them) at, specifically for school work time. I know there can be a shortage of space sometimes. Although It’s great to have a space exclusively for your child to use for school work, it’s okay if that space needs to be used for other things too, due to space shortage. However, during their school work time, that space remains exclusively used and set up for their schooling time. For example, my middle son uses our dining room table for his school work time. We use the table for other things, but during his school work time, he is set up there and it is not used for anything else.
- Reduce Distractions. It’s easy for all of us to get distracted sometimes. Clutter, siblings, loud noise- they can all be distracting for kids. Even hunger, thirst and tiredness can be distracting for kids. Make sure your child is fed, has some water, has headphones or a quiet space, and had a good night’s sleep.
- Recognize Good Choices on Purpose. We tend to yell out when our kid is acting up, and stay silent when things are going well. If your child is struggling with schooling at home, it is essential that you recognize when she is demonstrating a desired behavior during school work time.
- Target the top 2 or 3 behavior goals you have for your child during their schooling time. For example, if your child struggles with trying to solve problems on their own and usually asks for help 20 times in 5 minutes, perhaps the goal you create is something like: “I try to solve the problem on my own 3 times, before I ask for help”.
- Choose a small, fun way to recognize when they achieve those goals. For example, if your child begins trying to solve the worksheet problems on his own, he may have asked you for help only 5 times in 5 minutes. This is marked improvement from 20 times! If you recognize this, your child will make an effort to continue to engage in that behavior. Perhaps your child earns a sticker for meeting this goal. Once your child earns X amount of stickers (or whatever reinforcement you decide on), then they earn a bigger reward, like choosing a treat or a movie.
Tips for Effective Reinforcement
- The goal should be achievable based on your individual child’s strengths and needs
- The purpose is not for your child to achieve perfection; progress is the aim.
- Be consistent with the follow through or it won’t be effective.
- Choose realistic, practical reinforcers that are appropriate for your child and are also of interest to them (tv/video game time, goldfish, stickers, smiley face, movie choice, dinner choice, etc.)
Incorporating these tips on a regularly basis will reduce stress and frustration, freeing you up to enjoy parenting more and argue about teaching less.
If you’re interested in gaining more support about how to reduce stress as a busy mom, here is a great free stress less checklist for you: https://bit.ly/stressless_busymoms
Dr. Toni Warner, LCSW, MSW, MeD, is a mother of three, a transformational life & wellness coach for busy professionals seeking balance and a licensed psychotherapist in Pennsylvania. She’s been in the helping professions field for over a decade.
Dr. Toni is the founder of Dr. Toni Coaches, LLC, a coaching, educating and consulting business. It’s mission is to inspire and enact meaningful change in the world by helping heart-centered impact makers create work, life & relationship balance, allowing them to more deeply and meaningfully live, love, connect and share their gifts, enhancing their lives and the lives of others.
Dr. Toni is also the founder of Authentically Me Psychotherapy, LLC, where she supports high achieving and creative individuals who are struggling with anxiety, depression, trauma, burn out and disconnection, to get in touch with their core selves so they can live more fully and authentically aligned lives.
Therapy in PA: www.authenticallymepsychotherapy.com
Life & Wellness coaching for the busy professional: http://bit.ly/drtonicoaches
Stress less resource for busy working moms: https://bit.ly/stressless_busymoms
***Please note that coaching and therapy are not one in the same; they are separate services and the above mentioned are separate business entities. If you are unsure which service best fits your needs, simply reach out and ask: firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com