Published on in Health Tip of the Week
The COVID-19 pandemic has created a challenging and confusing time for everyone. Many parents are working from home while students complete assignments remotely. With final exams and projects approaching, families may find the usual “spring fever” intensified by stay-at-home orders. Meeting employer expectations while also helping your children successfully wrap up the school year feels stressful at best—and many days, impossible.
Dr. Kenneth Ginsburg, MD, MSEd, attending physician in the Division of Adolescent Medicine at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP), suggests that while continued academic success is important, it’s equally important that homeschooling parents practice flexibility and patience with themselves and with their children.
“Parents are juggling multiple new roles,” he says, “and there will be bumps in the road. Cut yourself some slack. Rule out perfection.”
With summer near and the future uncertain, these tips may help relieve some of the pressure of homeschooling and help create balance for you and your child through the final weeks of school and beyond.
Use online resources
Many online platforms offer educational activities that support distance learning and combat boredom. From math and reading support to art classes and yoga, free resources are available for kids of all ages.
- For free teaching resources and online STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics) activities, check out World at Home, Scholastic, Khan Academy, and The Crash Course.
- Keep your child’s active mind busy with a virtual museum tour, a deep sea dive or a peek at the San Diego Zoo’s live animal webcams.
- Try something new! Nurture your child’s inner artist with daily projects. Let them explore the world of computer coding or read up on their favorite animals through National Geographic Kids.
- Practice mindfulness and yoga to relieve stress and connect with your child in a peaceful, relaxed way.
Stephanie W. Endres, MEd, Manager of the Hospital School Program at CHOP, says that remote learning provides an opportunity to develop a routine for your family, which can reduce the stress of uncertainty. But it’s also important for parents to set realistic expectations of their children during this strange time.
“Do what you can to support academic success, but maintain a balance for yourself and your child,” Endres says. “Try to focus on the overall educational experience — not just scores or grades.”
Incorporate education into daily life
It may not always seem like it, but teaching and learning are already a part of your family’s day-to-day life. Think outside of the box and involve your children in household tasks that provide educational opportunities.
Older children can assist with meal preparation or budget management for practice in science, math and social studies. Younger children can help you bake, fold laundry or sort the mail to work on math, reading and motor skills. Incorporating education into your daily life can take the focus off of grades and make learning more fun.
Practice healthy habits
While many areas of life currently feel outside of our control, Dr. Ginsburg says it can be helpful to focus on areas we can impact, such as developing healthy routines to support physical health, stress management and academic success.
“A strong body supports the brain’s ability to focus,” says Ginsburg, who recommends that children get daily physical exercise. “Nutritious food and adequate sleep also improve a child’s ability to think clearly.”
Equally important are behaviors around stress. Children learn by observing the adults in their lives. “How a caregiver responds to the stressors of something unfamiliar and frightening impacts a child’s emotional growth and well-being,” says Endres.
To model healthy stress-management behaviors, validate your child’s emotions and show empathy. Make your home a calm, safe place that is intentional about reducing negativity and expressing feelings in healthy ways. This provides an important opportunity for your children to practice coping skills and build emotional intelligence.
No matter which online resources you use or which routines you implement, Dr. Ginsburg says, “homeschooling has a better chance of success when kids know they have the loving support of the important adults in their lives.”
Contributed by: Stephanie W. Endres, MEd, and Kenneth Ginsburg, MD, MSEd
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