I’m seeing a lot of posts at the moment about how to fill your days at home, now that the kids will be out of school (and not allowed to hang out with friends etc). And more than once, I’ve felt a wish to tell parents to please calm down. Not about the virus, that is a genuine and very valid worry to many parents of medically complex children. But about the pressure that many seem to feel when it comes to keeping their children busy and learning.
It’s not that I’m against learning (I hope that is obvious to followers of this page!). But learning doesn’t need to look like it does at school, nor does it need to be as intense. In my experience, many children thrive on learning in a more relaxed and less stressful context. So how about allowing for learning at a more comfortable pace, and in whatever forms your child/-ren and you enjoy. And don’t forget to allow for plenty of time to take it easy, too!
Some children thrive on routine, I know, and you might feel that you need to have a full schedule for them, so that they’re never left in limbo (which could lead to increased anxiety etc). But perhaps you can schedule in plenty of downtime? Not only for their sake, but for your own just as much. This could be life for a long time now, so please pace yourself.
When you’re at home with your child, learning happens in various ways at all times of the day and throughout the whole week. Of course, if you and your child prefer a setup which mimics school, that is totally up to you. But be open to all options, and choose what feels right for You and your family.
We have been home educating for about three years now, and Penguin (who is autistic, nonverbal and developmentally delayed) has plenty of breaks throughout the day. And most of them involve screen time of some kind (oh the horror, huh?).
He really needs his downtime to recharge and to avoid stress. If not, he’ll go into a state of overload and either shut down or get visibly distressed and upset, and once that happens there will be no more learning until he’s got himself balanced again, which can take hours.
So when I post about activities we’ve been up to, such as in my facebook post below from the other day, please know that there has also been several hours in our day of doing very little! And that Shaun the Sheep most likely has been keeping us company for large parts of the day. And that’s okay.
Of course you should be doing activities together with your children (as I’m sure you already are, now and then). Play games, do some painting together, or crafts, baking, reading stories, explore music together, involve them in cooking, house work, gardening etc, watch films, documentaries, look at photos together, and so on. And by all means engage in learning activities of various kinds.
I’ll be sharing about things we do (as usual), on our social media and here, as well as about other learning resources. BUT please don’t feel pressured to do more than you’re comfortable with. Remember that things we learn stick better when there are positive emotions connected to that learning. So, keep it enjoyable, and at a pace that suites your child, and yourself.
Take care now, and stay safe x
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