Blog Manager’s Note: Today’s post is about this strange new world in which we all find ourselves learning how to home school. If you’re like me, the possibility had never even crossed your mind in the days and years leading up to COVID-19! As part of our series on coping with the pandemic, ATN Trauma Informed Educator and Teacher Trainer Jan Bozowski gives some advice on dealing with the school aspect of things.
As of March 23, I had already been at home with my wife, who is a public school teacher, for 13 days. It has now been 28. I am a (thankfully!) retired teacher and our close next-door neighbors are both teachers. Our neighbors also have two children in elementary school and I have a middle school nephew with focusing issues. Collectively, along with students in all 50 states who have closed their schools, we have been thrust into the world of online and at-home learning.
As I’ve watched the process unfold, I have some thoughts for each “constituency” of the home school team.
First and foremost, you need to take care of yourself. Online learning doesn’t necessarily come with an end to the school day, with emails coming in almost 24/7. I know you want to respond to your students, but now new boundaries need to be established. Set online “office hours” during which you will answer emails. In service to your students (and their possibly-still-working parents), you might have a morning session and an evening session. Publicize these times to the parents and students and adhere to them. Take Saturdays and Sundays off from emails. Your kids are taking breaks. You need them too.
Your students miss school, whether they will admit it or not. They miss each other and you. Now is the time to use video apps (Zoom, Google Hangouts, Skype, etc.) to create a forum for checking in with each other. You can use these for academics, but perhaps more importantly, just consider it a check-in time. “How are you? What have you been doing? Do you need help?” Use the time to CONNECT!
First and foremost, you need to take care of yourself. You are the “rock” that will steady your children through these uncertain times. If you are grounded and well, you will respond far more effectively to the needs of your children. Go for a walk. Set a time and place at home to be alone and regroup. Visit (ONLINE!) with friends (see the video apps above). And here may be the hardest part: when you feel like you are “losing” it, reach out to others for an empathetic ear and calming support. Visiting ATN’s Therapeutic Parenting page may help.
As your child’s teacher now, you are not there to do the work for them, but to help them get the work done. What this requires will differ for each child. You do not attend your child’s classes and sit beside them all day in school. Now is only slightly different. Work with your child to set a schedule, a place, a framework or support that they will need.
Here are some other things that may help:
- Realize we all struggle with procrastination.
- Set time limits.
- Take active breaks.
- Realize that your child may also need some “time off.”
REMEMBER THAT YOU ARE A PARENT FIRST AND TEACHER LATER!
As a student stuck at home, your job now is to complete your assignments to the best of your ability in a timely manner. Find ways to do this that works for you. Do you work better in short chunks with breaks or in a longer stretch? How can you overcome procrastination? Do you need a quiet place? What will help you focus? As an example, my nephew and I have developed a daily phone or video check-in where we schedule his work and breaks. I’m his protection against procrastination because I call him when break time is over.
Connect through video with your peers and teachers. Just because you are stuck at home doesn’t mean you can’t socialize with your friends in a group. We adults have even begun to use apps for social get-togethers and you all are far more skilled at these apps than we are!
Finally, and this piece isn’t just for kids: ask for help when you need it. You are not alone.
We are all in this together. We are here to help each other.