3 Simple and Easy Ways to Improve Your Homeschooling and Home Working during the Corona Crisis
Are you struggling to find successful ways of making homeschooling and working from home work for your family? Maybe you're struggling for space, feel out of sorts because your whole life has suddenly been thrown up in the air and are struggling to get anything done.
I've been working at home for five years now, running my business from my dining room. Homeschooling is new to me though, even though I've always been the primary parent on call to pick up a sick child from school or run parenting errands during the school day. So I'm going to share some tips I've learned over the last five years, as well as some that I've learned over the last two weeks.
1. Have structure in your day
Your body needs structure
We all have a body clock that is run on a circadian rhythm. The reason we feel jet-lagged when we go to another time zone isn't just because of a shift in sleeping patterns, it's also to do with a shift in eating patterns and all sorts of other biological processes that run on a daily cycle.
It's hard enough living through the corona crisis without putting extra stress on your body by constantly changing your routines, leaving your body in a permanent state of adjustment, rather than equilibrium.
Where structure comes from in ‘normal' times
For many of us in normal times, the structure of our days has largely been imposed on us by outside forces e.g. the start and finish times of our school day or workday. These times dictate what time we get up in the morning and therefore what time we need to go to bed at night. At school, the dinner break dictates when you'll have lunch, and the time you get up will dictate when you have breakfast.
Without these outside influences forcing your body into a routine, it's easy to let things drift. That's why, in normal times, we might go to bed and get up later at the weekends and be more flexible about mealtimes.
During the Corona Crisis it would be easy to let the whole family not just take each day as it comes, but to just drift along hour-by-hour or minute-by-minute seeing what people felt like doing.
This may sound appealing for a while but quickly becomes unfulfilling, because you're not getting a lot done, and also uncomfortable for your body because your circadian rhythms become confused.
The reality of structure in the corona crisis
You've probably seen the colour-coded school time-tables that circulated on social media as soon as it was announced that schools are closed. Some people gravitated towards them, clinging onto the structure and routine that they promised. Others almost felt shamed by them because they just couldn't see their family sticking to it.
The reality is that your day needs a shape at the moment, but just two weeks into this crisis we're still all feeling our way into how to make life work for the best. So, my suggestion is that you try to get up, go to bed and have your meals at roughly the same time every day and just be open-minded about the way you fit the rest of life around those things until you fall into a pattern that seems to work for your family.
2. Communicate with your family
When you're living, working and relaxing in the same space for days and weeks on end it's going to be vital to talk to the other members of your household to make it work.
You might need to negotiate about who's going to use the dining room table for work at different times of day, who's going use the family laptop and at what times and who's going to do the extra household chores that come about because so many people are living in the house 24 hours per day (has anyone else noticed how much extra washing up there is and how much more loo roll you get through?!)
Communication isn't just about negotiation. It's also about each individual laying out their plans for the day so that everyone knows what to expect. In my house, both my husband and I are trying to work in the dining room, often trying to be on our meetings at the same time which doesn't work very well. We need to talk to each other about when it might be appropriate for one of us to leave the room. The piano is also in the dining room so my daughter can't come and practice when we're trying to work as it's too distracting. All these things need to be communicated about.
3. Be flexible
When you put the idea of developing a routine, over time, that works for your family, and the need to communicate together, it comes down to the idea of flexibility. Being rigid in your needs, wants and ideas at the moment is probably just going to lead to disappointment, frustration and arguments.
So, work together as a family to make a plan where everyone's needs are met, but maybe not in the exact way that everyone would choose. Make sure everyone's clear on the plan every day, and constantly review how things are going and how they can be improved. If you stay flexible and responsive to how your family's ways of working are developing you're much likelier to end up with a happier household much faster in the strange circumstances we're living in.
Do you need more help with this?
I'm helping families and students who are members of The Extraordinaries Club to find more successful ways of working at home together in two ways:
- My daily morning accountability call where people plan their day and then have an online ‘study with me' session. This happens daily at 9 am to give people something to get up for, and therefore structure to their day. Students and parents are welcome to this session.
- A programme of online lessons in core subjects designed to engage and motivate students whilst developing their academic skills in those subjects. This supports students' education, but also gives parents some time when they can get on with something else (or put their feet up) without worrying about what their children are up to.
This is what one mum, Laura, said about being members of The Extraordinaries Club during this extraordinary time we're living in:
“All three of our daughters (Years 7, 9 and 11) have watched Lucy's online lessons, delivered by teachers and found them really useful – they have also given me an hour to catch up on some work! Lucy is extremely personable and has been a life-changer for us over the last few months and in particular now during our adaptation to the new normal.”
If you're interested in taking part click here to find out more and sign-up.