Recently I was asked to participate in a Holistic Parenting summit, and one of the questions the host asked was this:
Can you sum up in one sentence the overall advice you want families to remember while going through the pandemic?
Do you want to know my one sentence?
You won’t be surprised to hear that the advice I gave comes directly from my work with families. And you won’t be surprised to hear that SO MANY families these days are facing major, highly-stressful challenges related to homeschooling and getting their kids to do schoolwork. So for me, the one piece of general advice I want families to follow is this:
Parents are parents and teachers are teachers, and if you find your family life being compromised because you’re also being Teacher, let go of the teacher role and ask the class teacher for help.
Has homeschooling added to the stress and conflict in your home?
As one of my clients described it, “The fight to get the homework done takes so long, it’s still not done by bedtime and any family time we might have had just doesn’t happen anymore.” And some of my parents are afraid that all of the conflict around schoolwork will cause their kids to hate learning.
If homeschooling has put you in the role of drill sergeant; if you and your kids are often fighting about Zoom classes or homework; if homeschooling at your house means significantly fewer positive, loving interactions with your child, less laughter, and less family time – then something needs to change.
Now I know some of you are saying, “Rebecah, you know there’s a good reason for fighting with the kids about school, right?” Our kids still need their education, after all. But the class teacher is no longer physically there, ensuring that the kid is present and paying attention, managing the child’s learning process. And SOMEONE has to do it!
But here’s the good news: You can ask the teacher to BE there. You can and you should ask the teacher for help. Be open, be respectful, and ask: “Would you hold my child accountable to do all assigned homework? To participate in Zoom class?” “Would you say something to my child when you know they’re not working as well as they can? Will you allow this to reflect in their grade?” “They’re not doing it for me but they’ll do it for you.”
I tell my clients to clarify roles with their teachers: “I will get my child to class on time and I will manage whether they remain present and not click away to something else. But I don’t want to have to manage whether they participate or did their homework or did it right. I’ll get them to school; but I need you to be sure they’re learning.”
And my clients and I are finding that most teachers understand. Teachers are often quite willing to spend extra time with your child, to remind them of what’s expected, to ask them to work harder, or to give them extra help. Even the short, five-minute check-ins can make a big difference, and teachers are finding time to provide extra support. And as so many of my parents know, kids are in fact listening to teachers where they wouldn’t listen to their parents.
If you’re finding yourself frustrated and stressed because you’re struggling with the kids to do schoolwork, chances are you CAN work with the teacher so the teacher is doing more of the heavy lifting. This reduces your stress, it reduces your child’s stress, it decreases the negative interactions between you and your child, and it provides more space for you and your child to interact in positive ways. But what about the problem of getting the child to class in the first place, or staying on the call once he’s there? I’ve developed a new system that really helps with this. Shoot me an email if you want to learn more!