Home Schooling Stresses – Older Children

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. 

Live Life Not Strife 
We’re available for remote consultations, for a confidential chat on how we can help 
you contact us on 01625 786026 / 07980 667103, please visit our Facebook Page: 
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Working from home and home schooling?

Trying to juggle home schooling and working from home? You may be feeling overwhelmed by what is expected of you and that you can’t give your usual 100% to any one thing. Remember, there is only one of you and only so much you can do physically and mentally. By now, you will probably have got into some kind of ‘new normal’ routine but is it working for you and your family?  

There may be ways you can change your day to make life easier for yourselves. 

So, you have to work, there’s nothing you can change there but you may be able to break up your working day around when the kids need you the most. 

With the new guidelines around some primary school year groups returning to school, this in itself can create more unease and confusion as you may still not have decided whether to send your child back to school if yours fall into this category. However, we still have to carry on with what is required of us each day. Everyone’s family is different and since lockdown, although the restrictions are beginning to ease, it has changed our daily lives dramatically and we need to try to retain some kind of consistency and routine for the children as this makes them feel secure, plus it gives you focus on when you can work.  

If your kids are sleepyheads and will sleep in later than they would do usually you can use this as a really good quiet time to work. Get in a few hours at the computer in the morning, an hour before the kids get up for instance and while they are breakfasting; you could then maybe set them up with an online lesson (there are some brilliant daily lessons from BBC Bitesize, Oak Academy or White Rose Maths for example) followed by some cosmic yoga; then some free time to play while you carry on. 

Break for lunch, then give yourself some time away from the computer to help with their home learning in the afternoon or switch it around if that works better. You may find spending the morning to home school the children and letting them have the afternoon to read, watch a movie or have some screen time works better for them and you. 

There are lots of educational TV shows they can watch or apps they can use while you continue work, also some more traditional type games and activities can make a refreshing change for our children: jigsaws, dominoes, sticker books, painting by numbers? Dig out some forgotten about toys and games for them to play with. It’s all good for them and may give you some respite while you carry on with work. If they are playing, they are also learning, so don’t put too much pressure on yourself to keep up with every single thing that school are posting on the website as they do understand how difficult it is for everyone. 

Talk to your friends, find out how they are managing their days, plus it helps general wellbeing and happiness to connect and chat with someone who is going through a similar experience. There’s no right or wrong way to do this and it is a matter of trial and error, everyone’s family is different. 

Are the children anxious about the situation, or having trouble engaging with their school work? They need extra reassurances, take 5 minutes on a 1:1 with your child, tell them how proud you are of them, that you can tell they’ve worked very hard on that colouring in/dot to dot/maths work, ask them what they would like to do with you on your day off and make a mental (and set a reminder!) note to make that thing happen for them. Make time for cuddles, they make everyone feel better!

However your day works out try to keep focusing on positive thoughts, you’re doing great.

Live Life Not Strife 
We’re available for remote consultations, for a confidential chat on how we can help 
you contact us on 01625 786026 / 07980 667103, please visit our Facebook Page: 
https://www.facebook.com/livelifenotstrife 

Tiny tips towards living a fuller happier life! 

Stress and Self-Employment in These Difficult Times

We self employed people are sometimes viewed with envy by those in regular employment – who perhaps imagine that you can knock off when you like, have a day off if the weather is nice or pick and choose which jobs you want to do.  The reality is not like that.  Most self-employed people will tell you, it’s hard graft.  You have to work hard to build your business up – and if you are successful, find you sometimes have to work long hours and weekends to fit in all the jobs. It is easy to lose sight of the direction you want to go in, find there is no time to plan and just lurch from job to job, struggling to complete the paperwork and chase the bills.  It can be lonely too – many are sole traders and have no colleagues to fall back on should a job prove more complex than expected, or no-one to have a bit of banter with if they are having a bad day. 

Those who might be envious, reflect that there is no holiday pay and no sick pay either.  If you don’t work, you don’t get paid.  So, that brings us to the current situation.  What if you are self-employed and not able to work at present?  If your savings are limited, then life it pretty tough and it is your turn to envy your chums in employment who may have been furloughed, yet are still receiving money.  Help is on it’s way if you have been self-employed since before April last year through HMRC’s grant scheme, which is now open for applications  – don’t hang about though, it is only available for a short time – you can access the claim system on GOV‌.UK by searching for ‘Self-Employment Income Support Scheme’ . You may also be able to apply for Universal Credit, especially if you aren’t able to claim money from other means.  However, this blog post is not meant to offer financial advice – there are many other expert sites to help with that.  It is simply a post to suggest other ways to alleviate the stresses of not being able to work at the moment. 

The good thing is that you can now use the time to catch up with paperwork, put the filing in order, chase those debts and – most importantly, plan for the future.  It might be that you have been wanting to set up or update a website, start a Facebook page, get a Twitter account – so now is the time to put yourself out there and let everyone know you exist.  Join local Facebook groups so your name is known to people and it will keep your name current in the community for when your skills are needed again; also, look for advice from others who work in your particular area of expertise to see what tips they may have – it may also stop that sense of isolation as you connect with others in a similar position.  

It’s also a time to plan.  It might be that you have never had chance to re-think the way you work, so now is a good time to give it some thought. We have all had to adjust the way we do things currently, so think ahead to when you are working again and how you may be able to think outside the box to get some fresh ideas.  It may be frustrating at present not being able to apply any of these ideas, but stay focussed as this time will not last forever.   

The important thing is to stay positive and try and have a plan for each day – it is easy to wake up and think there is nothing to get up for. Make the most of this enforced rest – keep yourself busy with the jobs you have meant to do at home but never had chance to get on with, take up that hobby you put to one-side years ago, re-engage with nature, learn a new skill – or, simply learn to relax, whether by meditation, yoga, or just going for a walk.  

Remember too, it’s good to talk. Whilst you may not be able to see your friends and colleagues face to face, there is always the phone or various ways to video call  – don’t be afraid to communicate – whether it is to help yourself, or perhaps to help a friend or relative who you know might be lonely and appreciate a call.   

To find out more contact us on 01625 786026 / 07980 667103, please visit our Facebook Page:  https://www.facebook.com/livelifenotstrife/