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Managing Homeschool Stress

Managing stress with homeschooling

Educating our youth is a primary concern for everyone; whether you have children or will employee those individuals when they enter the work force.  Managing homeschooling stress during a pandemic is extremely tricky at best.  Making sure children learn and are safe while doing it is imperative, but so is making sure that they are continuing to have opportunities to grow socially and emotionally.

Over 70% of young people surveyed between April & July 2020 mentioned loneliness and isolation as the main things contributing to their struggles.  Chronic loneliness can translate to poor sleep, high blood pressure, and greater risk for suicidal ideation, and even alcohol and drug use.  Since March 2020, 83% of 11-17 year olds screened positive or at-risk for anxiety and 91% screen positive or at-risk for depression.

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How Do I Manage My Stress?

Look for posts on forums or join social media groups dedicated to homeschooling during the pandemic.  This can provide a wealth of information.  You can also talk to parents who regularly homeschool their children to get a better idea of what their schedule looks like.

Instead of viewing your situation as homeschooling, view it as a necessary part of keeping your child safe during the COVID19 pandemic.  It’s okay to struggle a bit.  What is most important is keeping your family healthy.  On the more stressful days, remind yourself that you’re helping your child stay educated and well-adjusted during an uncertain time.

Take a few minutes with your child to write or sketch something that you are thankful for.  Plan for one thing you want to accomplish during the day, along with one thing you can stop worrying about.  For example, “I am thankful that I get to spend more time with my child” and “I can forget about the meltdown from yesterday”.

Try to be reasonable with your expectations.  Homeschooling can be tricky and much more stressful if you set your expectations too high.  Accept that your child will not be as productive as you would like.  Focus on giving them an engaging, thorough education that meshes with your own schedule.

Pay attention to how your child reacts and engages with each lesson.  Certain styles may not resonate well with them.  Don’t be afraid to change it up.  Consider making the lessons more hands-on, or use visual guides, consider audio books, or change the scenery to outside.  Consider having your child study with their friends virtually.  Setting up a time to video chat to do work together can be helpful in learning material and feeling connected to others.

How Do I Make It Through The Day?

Develop realistic goals to help you focus.  With the entire household in mind, plan a schedule that can be managed and balanced with other obligations like work.  Have your child complete a chore or a school work task while you focus on your work.  Finish off the day with a fun or social activity like going on a walk or kicking a ball around outside.

Roadblocks are likely to happen.  Factor in extra time so your child doesn’t fall behind in the event of a big distraction.  Don’t stress if the schedule isn’t followed perfectly.   Going with the flow is a normal part of homeschooling.

Prioritize younger children first, as they need more supervision and focus.  Encourage older children to work independently while you are sorting things out for the younger siblings.  Put breaks into the day to keep everyone refreshed and ready to learn.  You can also have your younger children play together while you focus on an older child.  If you have an infant, consider combining feeding time with story time.

Leave the day more flexible in order to reduce stress. Consider a block of time in the morning and another in the afternoon.  Try to work through multiple subjects with each block.

Once the school or work day is over allow a chunk of time to relax.  Try doing something that helps you to chill out.  Set aside some time to talk and catch up with your family.  This can really help relieve stress.  Allow your child to have contact with their friends virtually.  Social media, texting, calling and video chatting can be great ways to continue to feel connected.  Consider putting a hand written letter in the mail to a friend to brighten their day.  Play an online game with friends.  Finally, meet up with your friends safely.  Follow personal distancing rules and make sure you continue to wear your mask when you are within 6  feet of each other.  Feeling connected to others is an important part of our human experience.

Plan For Rough Days

Don’t look at the tantrum or meltdown at face value.  Instead, think about what might be contributing to it.  Try to separate yourself from the problem and understand what your child is thinking.  Tantrums often stem from stress or being overwhelmed.  If your older child is moody, they might be missing their friends or extracurricular activities.

Sit with your child and brainstorm some activities that help them relax.  They don’t have to be complicated.  View these activities as options in a tough situation.  Place the list where everyone can see it.  Click here for some tips.

Don’t react with anger to an angry situation.  Instead, help your child calm down with a time out.  Let your child understand you “get it” and guide them to get control of their behavior rather than shaming them into acting better.

Allow yourself the opportunity to practice observing your thoughts instead of addressing all of them.  When you have a negative or stressful thought, simply notice it and let it float away.  Stay grounded in the present instead of focusing on the future.  Noticing your surroundings and connecting to what you see, hear, smell and can touch are great ways to keep you in the present.

Call or text your supports when you are having a bad day.  They will be able to offer an ear or advise, especially if they have children of their own.  Focus on the fact that you are not alone and you have options.  Managing stress with homeschooling will be the key factor in whether your child has a good learning experience.

Stephanie Phillips, LCMHC

Stephanie Phillips, LCMHCS, NCC, CCTP
Psychotherapist & Owner
The Mindly Group, PLLC

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