If you are like me, you did not see this crazy quarantine coming. The last place I thought I would be is at home teaching my children, unable to leave the house, unable to play with friends, go shopping or even play team sports. I was definitely not prepared for the upset in all our plans and crisis schooling. None of this had ever even entered my mind.
How was I going to teach my two children from home? One of which as ADHD and high functioning autism. Once I got over the initial shock and terror of the fact that the rest of what they will learn this year will be taught me, I knew I needed to figure out how to help my kids through this with some sense of normalcy, routine and to make them feel secure. It wasn’t going to be exactly like school but we could make our own schedule and make this work for all of us.
For kids with Anxiety, ADHD, Autism and many other diagnoses, a disruption in routine can be extremely difficult. I knew I couldn’t change the fact that we wouldn’t be going back to school in the physical sense, but I could start creating a sense of structure and control for my kids. We could find ways to have fun and get all the learning done as well. So how can you help your kids with dealing with the stress of crisis schooling? These are the things that have worked for us. If anything, maybe you could get ideas or slightly tweak these things to help you all get through this.
- Create a schedule. It doesn’t have to be a strict 8-hour schedule that you follow down to the minute. We have one but it mostly consists of the hours in the day that we will do school work. All other time is free time or family time.
- Be really flexible with some things, but very strict with others. By that I mean, for my kids we needed to be very strict with when they did their work, and that fun can’t happen until they finish. Other than that, I am very flexible on where we do the work and how we do it. I let them choose if they want to do it outside on the patio or in bed in their pjs. I don’t care where we sit as long as it gets done. It seems silly, but it gives them some sense of control and choice around their school work.
- Create a positive behavior and reward system. We are all struggling to get through this and sometimes need a little incentive to perform at our best. Even your best-behaved kids are going to have a hard time right now because they are stressed too. They won’t tell you that in so many words but their attitudes will be different. They don’t truly understand what is happening and need stability from us to help things feel as normal as possible. They are sad all their favorite things are cancelled and they cannot have play dates or go to birthday parties. If your family is like mine, you are all getting a bit testy with one another and this helps as a reminder that you will be rewarded for good behavior. We just use stars on a white board. If you get up to ten stars, then you have earned a later bed time, treat or fun activity. It depends on the day and child. One of mine wants to work for chocolate and the other wants video game dollars. Whatever you choose is fine, just make it something they are willing to work towards. And mamas, you can use the chart too. At the end of the day if you haven’t lost it on your children, you can earn a glass of wine and a bubble bath.
- We have been pretty strict on bed time. Aside from earning a few mins later bed time for good behavior, we stick to our before 9 bed time. It makes it easier for them to work the next day because they are awake and alert. My kids need the structure and need to know that summer break is in a few weeks and they can stay up later then. Just like when we attend school, we go to bed at a decent time for our brains to be rested for learning.
- Get some exercise. We knew that the key to getting them to focus was having plenty of movement breaks. We use Go Noodle, You tube kids, bike rides and sometimes just an old fashioned dance party does the trick.
Other than that, we have just had a lot of fun. Doing activities we wouldn’t normally have time to do as a family because of spring sports and end of the school year activities.