Quarantine gave us a chance to understand the constant stresses teachers face. Having to teach your child, plan daily activities and set an effective routine is nowhere near easy! The coronavirus outbreak forced us all to maintain social distancing in our humble homes. Personally, this quarantine has me going crazy with lists of house rules and little habits of my family members that I never had to focus on before! So far I have learned that my husband constantly needs a TV on (which I hate!). I found out my kids eat porridge, but only if it is cooked in the same way as their school. And frankly, It seems I am the only one who cares whether the house is clean or not!
But quarantine has also given me realizations I never would have known otherwise. The most surprising discovery? I am a terrible teacher. Throughout my life, I believed that I would have made an amazing teacher. As a student, I was able to explain things to my classmates in five minutes and managed to make them understand everything! So I definitely did not think homeschooling my kids would ever be an issue. But as the homeschooling slowly began, I felt constantly irritated. I mean how could my kids not understand such simple topics? Also, at the back of my mind, the pile of tasks waiting for me kept piling up. So homeschooling simply seemed like a big waste of my time, especially when it took hours to make some progress.
After another stressful day of Math, Literature, and Biology, I understood that our family will not get through this quarantine without losses. I was losing my nerve, my children were afraid of me – even after the class was over! And the overall atmosphere at home was not the best. I literally wanted to escape the four walls and people I lived with. I realized that I can’t blame my children for not understanding and as a parent/teacher, it is now my job to help them succeed in their studies. After all, it will take my children and me some time to get used to this new arrangement. After this realization, I tried to look for reasons inside of me, I tried figuring out what I was doing wrong. And this is the first step to becoming a better teacher for your children.
As soon as I stopped blaming kids for everything and did my research on how to “teach your child” and homeschool effectively, everything returned to normal. This made quarantine much more bearable for myself and my children. On the plus side, I now understand my children much better. Still, in order to homeschool better, I had to try out a lot of tips. In this article, I gathered 3 of my favourite tips which I believe made my homeschooling experience so much better!
1. Make a Schedule
The main piece of advice I have always kept in the back of my mind since the beginning of the outbreak is to “do everything possible in order to keep your normal routine”. I find this advice incredibly useful and try to apply it to my everyday life. However, I totally forgot that children have their routine as well! So I would make them study around 2 pm, once I had a break from work. Then we would sit at the table until everything was done.
What I failed to understand is that children have their productivity time as well! In order to create an efficient schedule for myself and my children, I moved all my business meetings to the afternoon and entered teacher mode in the morning. Just the difference in timing, made our study sessions much more productive. Moreover, kids got used to playing in the afternoon and they got really irritated that I made them do work at that time. Now there are (thankfully) no more angry faces!
It is important not to forget that children need breaks too. Adults often ignore the breaks, in order to finish their work and forget about it (which is technically wrong), but kids need those breaks much more than adults. So remember, in order to teach your child effectively, give them ten minutes of rest from time to time. By doing this, you will see that they will actually finish their homework earlier and understand new concepts faster. I also noticed that the stress level in both me and my children, drop significantly as well!
2. Get Your Child Excited
This is something even professional teachers struggle with. However, they have thirty different pupils in the class and a strict schedule they must follow. In comparison, you have a big advantage here.
First of all, you know your children (their likes, dislikes, fears, etc.) For example, my children love cartoons about cars. So I would give them mathematic sheets that used cars. I would print them in black-and-white, so my kids have the opportunity to colour the sheets as well. I also found some blogs and stories on cars to read to my children and let me tell you, they love it! They sometimes forget that they are learning because it genuinely seems like a fun activity for them.
Secondly, allow your children to plan their schedules. There are days when you feel like reading, there are days when you feel like learning more about nature (by the way, getting out for a field trip around your house can be quite beneficial), so let your children have a say in what their day will look like. It will get them more engaged and make them feel heard. This cooperation and engagement will make it much easier for you to teach your child.
3. Do Not Be Too Hard on Your Child or Yourself
When my kids did not understand the topic, I would frequently become irritated and loud. This would cause me to have an internal conflict with myself and I would doubt my mothering and teaching skills.
Part of me knew it was because I stayed too stressed. Part of me also knew I needed to lower my expectations. I thought that my children would understand things as quickly as I do, so I always planned a lot in advance. I failed to understand that I already knew many of the concepts my children were learning, whereas, for them, everything was new! So, when it took twenty additional minutes to get all the details right, I would be angry and irritated. I did not realize that kids can not learn too many things at once, that it is better to learn less than learn a lot and understand nothing, and that we are all in the middle of a pandemic! Therefore, I tried to slow down my tempo, I tried to put myself in their shoes, and it helped.
I also was nervous that I would fail to be a “perfect” teacher. I felt that if my children failed something, it was completely my fault. But, I began to understand that it is no one’s fault that some things are harder than the others. You just have to give yourself and your children some more time to understand that. Since then, I always try to look at myself from a different perspective, and every time I feel like I am failing my kids as a teacher, I repeat to myself: “You are enough. Breathe. Give yourself more time. We are in no rush.”
So my main point is: try to be kind to yourself and to your children. Your mental health is more valuable than academic success at the moment. These three main tips have totally changed my teaching methods and improved my overall household environment during the pandemic. While some of these tips seem quite obvious, as I implemented them in my teaching experience, I understood that sometimes it is the small things that matter and make the biggest difference.
So as you stay at home, try to implement these 3 tips while you teach your child. I guarantee, they will help improve your household’s environment as well as your relationship with your kids.