Sheffield psychologist addresses the challenges of homeschooling

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Many of us, without any previous training or experience, have now become the homeschool educators of our children.

This is going to bring many challenges for us as parents and for our children and young people, who are transitioning from school

to home learning environments.

Some children will undoubtedly be enjoying the more relaxed, less demanding approach and we need to let them work through this without developing negative habits too quickly.

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The longer we let these new habits go unaddressed, the harder they will be to rectify in the long term.

Many other children will be struggling with the change in momentum and so are trying to apply a familiar school-style model to their new educational day in order to eliminate feelings of pressure and anxiety. It is important that we recognise, listen to and learn the needs of our children during this time. Individual differences will begin to be noticed.

Some children will choose to get the work out of the way early on.

Others may like an intermittent approach across the day. It is important to notice these preferences while also nudging different work approaches when we can, so that behaviours don’t become too rigid.

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Andrea ChattenAndrea Chatten
Andrea Chatten | ©Dean Atkins Photography

Remember we need to get our children back into school when all this is over.

A real positive from all of this is that we can tailor our children’s new learning environment to match their best models of learning. Some children will enjoy learning in a physical way, e.g. maths circuits in the garden.

Others will prefer practical hands-on learning like baking or topic-based work. For many, by doing the learning with us, this will bring an additional magic as long as we allocate our time fully to avoid feelings of frustration.

We are all doing the best we can under these circumstances, often with additional life pressures too. Don’t be too hard on yourself, you are not alone.

Andrea ChattenAndrea Chatten
Andrea Chatten | ©Dean Atkins Photography

Top tips for supporting homeschool learning:

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 Be patient. Homeschool learning is going to take time for everyone to settle into. We know we need to do this, but the routine may take time. Just keep

working towards your daily goals

 Nip negative habits in the bud as early as possible

 Involve the children and young people who are at the heart of this to help set up how each day will go. If we give them some ownership and control to

develop learning timetables, they will be more likely to stick to them

 Be realistic. You are not going to be doing 5.5 hours (a learning school day) of educational activities a day. Under the circumstances, between 2-3 depending on school age means you’re doing a good job

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 Remember to make the day as fun as possible. Our children aren’t getting the social opportunities they need, or the levels of play. We want our children to look back on this time as positively as we can

 Remind children of the reality of these circumstances. This is when we can educate on different styles of a working day. Help them to understand that although we need elements of self-discipline, we can adapt to our learning styles too. If the learning is happening, we can be more flexible about when and how

 Look out for pressurised language. Children may start using more ‘should’ dialogues: “I should be doing maths now”; “I should be doing schoolwork all

day”. Should makes us feel like we are a slave to our thoughts and that we have no choice. By changing should to could, we feel like we have a greater

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sense of control, not only over our thinking but over our behaviours too

 Communicate emotions throughout this time. If children can learn how to label more accurately what they feel during this situation (and they will feel many different emotions), they will leave the process with increased emotional intelligence, skills and greater self-regulation

 Be kind to yourself. This is a huge thing you are being asked to do. Remember, you are doing your best

By Andrea ChattenFounder and Lead Children's Emotional & Behavioural Psychologist at Sheffield’s Unravel and author of The Blinks novels supporting children's well-being

unravelsupport.co.uk

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