The Homeschooling Homestretch!
Shocking (Not) Survey Results
As we enter the homestretch of homeschooling, I came across the results of a survey that went out to Diocesan families from the Family Life Office. The top concerns made me think there could be some helpful resources to share with you, or at least let you know how normal your family is in this most abnormal time.
If you're feeling like your kids are lacking motivation for their schoolwork, you are hardly alone. The #1 problem (46%) parents shared regarding their children was that their children lacked motivation for schoolwork. It makes a lot of sense, doesn't it? We are social beings, and to a degree, competitive beings. Not getting that in-person, face-to-face "Way to go!" from a teacher, or public praise that they may be used to can take its toll on kids' motivation. Couple that with not seeing that friendly rival shoot their hand up to answer a question or not getting noticed for having a top score, and it's no wonder we're lacking in motivation. I don't have a resource to share on this one, but just wanted you to know that it makes sense if your kids' zest for excellence has waned.
The areas of concern taking top spots after lack of motivation are as follow, and I might suggest that they may be related to a degree:
parents' own anxieties (42%)
children's anxieties (35%)
conflict among siblings (35%)
For the anxiety...anxious parents tend to encourage (without meaning to!) anxiety in their kiddoes. So, on top of whatever anxieties you're currently experiencing, I just threw a layer of parental guilt on top of it. Sorry about that, but I mention it only to encourage parents to deal honestly with their own anxieties as well as they can so that the children can feel as calm and confident as possible. Sometimes, we need to check our emotions and ask if maybe the impatience we're feeling, or the frustration, or the anger, is actually fear/anxiety. If it is, some of these tips from the CDC may be helpful: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/daily-life-coping/managing-stress-anxiety.html
I also loved this article from a parenting blog:
And of course we need to add some prayer. Check out www.praymorenovenas.com
To start your day with Scripture and reflection, sign up for the Three Minute Retreats from Loyola Press. They are really only three minutes and it's amazing how those three minutes can permeate a day: https://www.loyolapress.com/3-minute-retreats-daily-online-prayer/
One thing I would really like to emphasize on the topic of anxiety is please take schoolwork perfection off your list of things to be anxious about. Teachers are not expecting perfection. You may be working, you may have several children to tend to, and have any number of other issues going on. No one on the CKS team is expecting full-time, all-day, hands-on teaching by parents to their children. We all assume everyone is doing their best. Give yourselves a break. Give the kids a break. Everyone deserves some grace during this time, some understanding, a missed deadline, and probably some popcorn. Or cookies.
No shock to this mom, the next most common concern among the families out there...sibling conflicts! Isn't it great to know that your family is totally normal? I began searching the internet for articles on this topic, and there actually weren't many available. I am very happy with the one I did find that seems legit and practical:
From my own experience, after just a couple of days of sheltering-in-place, I did institute the #1 recommendation from the article, which was to plan time for the kids to be apart during the day. It was not out of some wisdom or research on my part, but purely out of a survival instinct. None of us was going to survive with the kids in each other's space all day. So, after lunch every day, I required that they both go to their own rooms for an hour. If you haven't tried it, give it a whirl. Easy and effective!
You'd think that with all these hours together as a family, "quality" family time would be spontaneous and abundant. However, with every family member working, we're finding it doesn't "just happen." Even now, we have to plan a movie night or game night. But, I think those plans pay dividends in the sibling harmony department. I highly recommend Trivial Pursuit Family Edition where the kids get to be partners (not competitors) against the parents.
Recently, we had a day when NOBODY was happy. Nobody was getting along. The weather wasn't great, but after just a short bike ride around the park it was amazing how much everyone's mood lifted! Read on for facts about the positive effects of being in nature. You've probably noticed this effect as a parent, but the article is a great reminder and backs up what you may have suspected with science. Nature helps ease the anxiety and sibling rivalry issues!
I'm looking forward to the day when I can fill the Guidance Gazette with cute pictures of your kids hanging out at CKS. Until then, (and always), let's cling to a good Bible verse:
God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear." - Psalm 46:1-2
Much love for the homestrech,