It happens to everyone - public school families, private school families, homeschool families - anxious energy starts to buzz, voices are raised, tears (figurative or literal) are shed. But learning at home shouldn’t be so hard. It is supposed to bring families together to delight in something new - a new book to read, a new inquiry to make, a new problem to solve.
Usually when things start to go on the fritz, it isn’t just about the learning. Usually when things start to go on the fritz, there are too many unmet needs. And what is needed most isn’t to put one’s nose to the grindstone. What is needed most is to slow down, care for yourself and each other, and make a plan for moving forward. Here’s how.
STEP 1: Let It Go. Nothing is as important as your relationship with your child. Not math homework. Not the last-minute paper. Ask yourself, “why?” Why are you fighting so hard for the work to happen now? Would it be catastrophic for the homework to wait while you attend to the basic needs of your family? The answer is no, it would not be catastrophic.
By letting go you will gain time and patience.
STEP 2: Meet Individual Needs. Spend a few minutes taking inventory of unmet individual needs. One person might need movement. Someone else might need food. A third person might need three minutes to listen to a song, or sit in silence, or meditate. Another person might need to create a clean physical space to think straight. (Ahem, these are the typical culprits in my family.)
Trust your intuition and feed the bodies, minds, and spirits in your home.
STEP 3: Meet Relationship Needs. Give Hugs, high fives, This is where I draw on love languages. Before you can solve problems together, everyone will need to feel loved. Go for a walk, gift a small note, do the chores for your child. If you need a little inspiration then think about the love languages to help understand what makes each person feel loved.
Knowing your child’s love language helps you get the most bang for your buck when nurturing the relationship.
STEP 4: Problem-Solve Together. Once everyone is calm it is time to problem-solve. Start by asking, “Why was that so hard?” If your child can’t articulate it, offer what made it hard for you using “I felt…” statements. “I felt tired because I had a hard day.” “I felt frustrated when I was interrupted.” “I felt worried that skipping this work will make the future more difficult than it needs to be.” Make time for everyone to speak.
Everyone deserves to be heard and to help solve the problem.
STEP 5: Make a Plan for Tomorrow. Write down a plan for tomorrow. Maybe you’ll have dinner early and go for a walk before trying to sit down to do some work. Suggest things you can do; ask what they need from you; ask how they can help you. Together define some boundaries...Would it help to work in short chunks of time - 10 minutes on, 20 minutes off, 10 minutes on, 20 minutes off - or all at once?
If everyone makes a real contribution in planning then the plan is more likely to work.
STEP 6: Enjoy Today! Take a breath and smile at your family. (I need that reminder myself.) Exchange some hugs and high-fives. Re-approach the task if everyone is up to the challenge. Otherwise, save it for tomorrow.
You deserve to celebrate that you got through something difficult together.
At Boco Learning, LLC we believe relationships are the foundation of really great learning. Through that lens, we focus on the subject that is most challenging for most parents - mathematics. You’re invited to discover how to use books, games, toys and tools, and even life itself to learn math...and it’s easier than you think.
We believe that you should never stop learning, fear is the enemy, and being curious and courageous are the best ways to grow your knowledge.
This blog refers to your child's love language. Learn more here:
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