Keeping Kid’s Mental Health Strong During Home Schooling

COVID has turned life upside down for everyone. Parents and kids alike are struggling with the new norm of being home. All the time. Who knew that the “quality time” we all lamented as being in short supply, is actually quite stressful in large, undefined stretches?

Right now, school is a primary source of stress, anxiety, frustration, and deep guilt for many parents. Our new role as “teacher” is one few of us were prepared for. We not only lack the skills, but we also lack the vital benefit of a classroom that creates a cohort of camaraderie and participation. Most of us don’t have the right tools, resources, or years of training to understand the nuances of how to get kids excited about the material placed in front of them. If there ever was a time to truly acknowledge the patience, wisdom, and utter magic of teachers — now is that time!

It’s important to offer ourselves grace, yes. But, while we’re trying to find a balance between self-discipline and self-care, we need to maintain our patience and there are a few things we can do to make life run a little smoother on the homeschooling front.

Here are five more to assist in maintaining that loving bond with our kids, while tolerating the lack of alone time:

1. Connect with Teachers

Most teachers right now are keeping office hours and offering 1:1 appointments for parents — take advantage of these opportunities. If you’re not sure whether these options exist, don’t be afraid to reach out to your child’s teacher. Even if you don’t think you have any questions or aren’t sure what to talk about, schedule the time anyway. Connecting with your child’s teachers can help you better understand their expectations. This will also give them a chance to hear what you have going on in your household — they can give you tips, tools, and tricks of the trade to help your child get the most out of their school time at home.

2. Manage Your Own Anxiety

If you are feeling anxious, take some time to manage your fears and take a few breaths before starting a conversation or answering your child’s questions.

3. Maintain Structure and Routines

Make sure you are taking care of the basics just like you would during a spring break or summer vacation. Structured days with regular mealtimes and bedtimes are an essential part of keeping kids happy and healthy. Planning daily walks can be a good way to create structure and ensure physical activity.

Overall, children do better when their activities are predictable and therefore, whenever possible, inform them about any change in routine ahead of time.

4. Set up Designated Space and Time for Learning

Kids may need to move around during the day, but it has been suggested having one or two designated areas for learning. Have your kids pack up their materials into a basket so they can put them aside when they’re finished.

Same goes for time. While it’s good to have a general daily routine, you can also be flexible. It’s OK to let your kids sleep in a little later than usual — research shows many of our children and teens are chronically sleep-deprived. Plus, most homeschoolers don’t teach seven hours straight a day. Shoot for one to three good academic hours instead.

And don’t forget to get outside — learning happens outdoors too.

5. Be Forgiving of Yourself and Your Kid

This is a very stressful time during this pandemic. If you need to put on a movie to get through the day, that’s absolutely fine. It is healthy during these stressful times to actually skip a day of learning to just go for a nature walk, take long baths, sleep in days, etc. on a ‘school day’. The isolation ordered globally can have a terrific effect on all ages, especially our children.

The maintenance of all our mental health, especially our children’s is the most important key to success. Seeking outside help online is also absolutely suggested to all parents struggling through these times.

Due to social distancing and stay at home orders, many insurance companies have shifted their coverage to include virtual or tele-health therapy. For some insurance companies, these services are not new, but they are now seeing an insurgence of therapists moving to online-only therapy. This transition from in-person to virtual therapy is requiring providers and insurers to provide clear information on their websites about coverage.

The best source of information about what your plan covers is your insurer.

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