We have already written about the pressures of home schooling with younger children but recognise that home schooling for older children also brings pressures – albeit different ones.
The stresses will of course be different from family to family. It may be that you have a really driven older child who is happy to log-on to school work and simply get on with it. Great you think…but this is not always as plain sailing as it may seem. Without the distractions of a normal school day, such as break times, an aside with chums in class, a humorous comment from the teacher, the time spent working alone can become intense. I believe schools have not generally grasped this and appear focussed on piling on the work, not appreciating how undiluted it can be for some pupils. It is important to try and encourage these students to break up their day and ensure there is a defined time to stop work. It might be beneficial if they can have a short walk at lunch time, or if possible, time in the garden – but certainly away from the work space. Some students might want to set up a video link with their friends, so they can at least meet virtually at lunch or after school.
And then of course, there are the students who simply see this time as an extended holiday! Getting them off their X boxes or whatever can be a nightmare – especially as older children develop more inventive strategies for hiding this fact! There is no easy answer to this one, except perhaps to dangle a carrot here and there, whether it be time on the X box later on when school work is finished, or the promise of some other longed-for item or activity, even if it means waiting until the COVID crisis is over.
There is also the willing pupil who perhaps needs extra help to understand some of the lessons being set. As most of the remote learning systems do not lend themselves to instant access to teachers or with rapid answers to queries, this can be hard on the parent who suddenly finds themselves needing a teaching qualification! It is important if this happens to remind yourself that you aren’t super mum or dad and that you can only do your best in the circumstances. If your child is struggling, message the teacher through the usual channels but move to a different topic until you get a response to your query – it is better to do that than to spend hours struggling to find answers when you don’t really know.
The same applies too if the teacher sets tasks with unclear instructions as to what they want. They might know what they mean, but your child certainly might not! Again, most online learning models have a forum, so see if anyone else has been puzzled by the work, or contact friends to see if they have also been confused by the instructions. However, if in doubt, contact the teacher – no-one is going to be cross or think it is a silly question – it is the teacher’s job to make things clear and they need to understand if they have been too general with what they are asking. Remember it is a learning curve for everyone, teachers included!
Another major stress can be the necessary use of technology for online learning. Some households will have more equipment and know-how than others, so let the school know if you are struggling with any particular aspect of this. They may be able to lend you some equipment or offer different ways of doing things.
Most of all though, remind yourself that these are strange and difficult times and you can only work with what you have and work to the best of your ability. No-one can be super-human, so don’t be hard on yourself – be there to offer love, support, encouragement and the odd pat on the back for effort, but don’t beat yourself up if you don’t have all the answers!
If your child is stressed and needs some independent help to reduce their anxiety, contact us to book an online session with our experienced psychologist.
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