Schooling at Home :: It’s Time to Get Creative

Pandemics are stressful!

As of this writing, almost all parents in the North Texas area will now be homeschooling, at least for the first 3-4 weeks. With that comes the stressful, hopeless, frustrating thoughts of wondering how to give our children everything they need socially and emotionally while they’re stuck inside.

Mommas, it’s time to get creative! This is what we’re built for. We birthed these children and we’ve been working out how to turn one-handed backflips with scissors while not putting an eye out for just as long. We can do this!

Nurturing Social and Emotional Health During the Pandemic

Here’s the honest truth about human behavior: Children flourish within the environment we lay out for them.

When parents are freaked out, kids become freaked out, anxious, and traumatized. If you behave scared and worried around your kids, no matter their environment, there is a high chance your child will imitate those feelings and behaviors. 

Humans are social animals; we need people to survive and thrive. This does not mean we must have tons of friends. It simply suggests that we prosper within a community of at least a handful of people that we know consistently have our back during both good times and bad.

With that in mind, here are some creative ways to help your child feel supported and safe physically, emotionally, and socially while schooling at home. 

Schooling at Home

Kids can thrive emotionally and socially if kept at home. Use tools at your disposal to create social interactions. Even though there is a computer screen between two or more people doesn’t mean the person on the other end isn’t a living, breathing human being. These days, kids are actually more virtual than we moms. They don’t have to get used to the idea of being social online, we do. 

The worries we have with kids being online centers around safety, cyberbullying, and predators, and this has nothing to do with learning and school. While research shows kids have more risk while online, there is also firm research that shows being in the cyber world is not all bad. Being online allows kids to stay connected, make new friends, learn, stay organized, and have fun. It wasn’t how we grew up, but that doesn’t make it bad.

According to this Wired Magazine article, most children are keen on finding positive, healthy things on the internet. Also, kids have already been learning online in school. Most districts have computers for kids, and they’re online at least once, maybe more, each day. 

Here are some specific ideas for schooling at home:

  • Create mini co-ops. Have one or two safe, close friends over to study and do work together.
  • Hire a high school or college student to help if you’re able, especially if you’re working. Frankly, many kids are going to learn better when the teacher isn’t also Mom.
  • Encourage daily friend check-ins through FaceTime, Google Duo, or Zoom.
  • Schedule virtual lunch tables for your kids during the day so they can socialize during the lunch hour.
  • Schedule social distancing picnics outside during the lunch hour. 
  • Plan virtual library time and have a weekly book club for the kids.

Remember, not only do kids want and need kid time, they actually thrive just playing in general. Get them outside for walks, bike rides, tree-climbing, or running through a water sprinkler. Even better if they can do that with a friend who has also been mindful during this pandemic.

Most importantly, continue to have an open dialogue with your children about their experiences! Let them vent; this is way harder for them than it is for us. Their world has changed, some for the better and some for the worse. All experiences are valid. 

Jennifer Slingerland Ryan
Jennifer Slingerland Ryan knows a thing or two about kids and families. First, she knows they are joyous, exhilarating, loving and so darn fun. Second, she knows they suck your life dry and make you weep like a baby. By day she’s a psychotherapist; by night she’s a mom and wife. She claims to love therapizing couples, educating parents, reading dystopian fiction and sleeping in her free time (read: she never sleeps). Jennifer is a mom of twins who are sweet as sugar, but just hit that tween stage so all bets are off. Her youngest is...a joy. Let's just stop there. Most days you can find her in her office seeing clients, doing laundry, loading or unloading the dishwasher, or catching up on the latest episode of Real Housewives of (Insert City Here), Walking Dead or This Is Us. She is a tree-hugging country girl from West Texas who reads, writes, and teaches about human development and families as a hobby and profession. You can read more from Jennifer at her therapy blog, ichoosechange.com

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