How to Succeed at Homeschooling

Tips for Caregivers-Turned-Teachers During COVID-19

May 19, 2020
Parents need homeschooling support

COVID-19 has introduced much stress for parents sheltering at home as they juggle full-time work, managing households and parenting stay-at-home children while attempting to fill in as teachers.

“Parents are recognizing and appreciating how challenging and meaningful it is to be a teacher,” says Dr. Jeff Lichtman, Lucille Weidman Program Chair, Jewish Education and Special Education at Touro College Graduate School of Education.

“Parents should have realistic expectations. Most don’t have the skills or training to replace professional teachers. Instead they should focus on supporting the work of teachers by creating a home culture where both children and parents can thrive,” says Lichtman.

Dr. Lichtman offers these 9 pointers for parents who are struggling through the school year.

  1. Remember, your children will be fine when they go back to school. We are all in the same situation. When schools come back, teachers will assess where children are and begin at that point.
  2. Most schools are providing some mix of Zoom teaching and independent work. Your job is to help your children access their online classes and complete independent work. This may be challenging at times. Talk with the teacher if you need their advice or support.
  3. Children have short attention spans and need frequent breaks. While there are no universal rules, a child’s full attention span typically matches to his chronological age. For example, a five-year-old can concentrate intensively for about five minutes; a 10-year-old for 10 minutes.
  4. Sometimes there isn’t enough time for you or your child to get everything done. In these cases, determine what is most important, then set your priorities in advance. Don’t fret if you can’t do it all.
  5. Use this time at home to teach socialization. For example, teach your children how to take turns, or to do chores around the house. You may need to allow time to teach them how to do the chore. Even simple tasks like taking out the trash may require more explanation than you realize. Don’t assume it is obvious. Ask older siblings to help younger ones, then give them the guidance and support they need to be successful.
  6. Teach emotional regulation, by example. The journey of childhood involves learning to self-regulate behavior. Model those behaviors and explain them to your child.
  7. Accept that screen time is inevitable right now. As parents, your job is to create reasonable boundaries about both the content and the number of hours on a screen. Explain your expectations to your child and set reasonable goals, but don’t make rules that you can’t enforce.
  8. Remind yourself that boredom is not necessarily bad. Boredom can lead to daydreaming and that can lead to creativity. Most of the time we—both parents and children—are on a treadmill. Now many of us can slow down the speed, something we have often wished for in our over-programmed lives. In advance, prepare for the times when your children have unstructured or down time by putting together with them a list of suggestions for things they can do.
  9. Don't worry about your children interrupting your Zoom business meetings. Everyone's expectations around work have been adjusted to include occasional child Zoom bombs. Nobody will hold the disruptions against you.

These are difficult times, Dr. Lichtman reminds parents. “Be kind to yourself; be kind to your children and be kind to others, especially teachers.”