by LAURA CZERWINSKI
From time to time, it’s wise to check in on the staff responsible for schooling your kids at home. (Pssst, that’s YOU!) Think of it as your version of a parent-teacher conference that you have with, well – yourself!
Prior to take off, flight attendants make a point to remind everyone to put on their own oxygen mask before assisting others with theirs. It’s not unreasonable for you to take a similar approach when it comes to keeping yourself in tip-top shape, so that you have the energy (and patience!) to teach at home.
There are countless articles out there about self care you can explore that share all sorts of self-pampering suggestions. They contain a multitude of ideas from getting an occasional manicure to waking up 10 minutes before everyone else to savor a quiet cup of coffee. This month, let’s focus on tips that you can apply to your day to day schooling activities that still pack a punch in terms of self-care for the teacher!
- Think about the first few weeks of schooling this season. What doesn’t work that needs adjusting? This is a great time to tweak your approach. Since we are now into fall, you probably don’t want to make MAJOR changes, but little things can make all the difference. For example, maybe the dining room table isn’t cutting it as a great workspace for your kids. Try tray tables at comfy chairs. Are your kids getting antsy in the late morning hours? Maybe lunch needs to be 30 mins earlier. Flexibility is a major plus when schooling at home. Take advantage!
- Keep it fresh! Research fun activities, videos, etc to keep variety in your days. Do your kids have a favorite hobby or activity you can tie into your lesson plans? For example, if they are avid soccer fans, visit YouTube to find a video about the history of the game and put together a vocabulary or “words to know” list. Maybe they can write a few paragraphs or a poem about their favorite player. Start discussions regarding which teams they’d like to see one day. Encourage them to make posters to cheer them on when they watch the next game. While this seems like something that benefits you more than your kids, well, you’re right! But isn’t it also true that lessons are more enjoyable and a little less stressful when everyone is having fun?
- Are you connecting with other parents that also school at home? I get it. It’s not always easy to make time to get out socially and spend time with other adults sans kids. Honestly, you don’t always need to. Take advantage of the many homeschool groups out on social media and ask questions you have. Others probably have similar pressing issues on their minds! It’s easy to fall into a rabbit hole of doubt about your process. Having connections with those in a similar scenario with schooling at home can lead to some great discoveries in terms of techniques, lesson ideas and even fun field trips to plan. Remember though, comparing your experience to others can be stressful, so make implementation decisions on ideas you’ve heard based on your own family’s needs.
- What is the family’s sleep schedule like? Maybe more importantly, what is your sleep schedule like? Are you getting enough shut eye? In the flight attendant analogy shared earlier, exchange the thought of oxygen with sleep. If you don’t catch your zzz’s it will be harder to give your all in whatever activities you plan for the next day. For some, lack of sleep can weigh heavily on the amount of patience you have and when schooling at home, you need PLENTY of patience! It’s tempting to check off things from your to-do list after the kiddos are in dreamland, but stick to the advice that many probably shared with you when your kids were born – sleep when the baby sleeps! (Even if they are not babies anymore.)
Creating a positive environment for your child’s growth and education by taking time to reflect on your process is essential. Making necessary adjustments can empower you to navigate new challenges, celebrate successes and give your role as a parent and educator a healthy balance.
Just remember to put your own oxygen mask first!