How are you feeling about your kids being back at school – online school that is? At the Gardiner home, we are two days in and while the kids seem to be doing just fine, it is me (the parent) who might be struggling more. I have all kinds of mixed thoughts like:
- How do I stay on top of this stuff?
- I have to make sure I keep my kids accountable.
- How much do I nitpick their work?
- How was their teacher ever able to read their writing?
There is lots of breathing and prayers for patience. I am thankful to all our teachers and educators who do this for a living. God bless you for educating our children. You are amazing!
For many of us, we are in uncharted territory when it comes to helping our kids through this much of their education journey. We typically jump in on the homework, but not so much on the actual carrying out of the supervision of their classwork. I know there were small moments where I felt over my head. A great example came when my grade three twins asked me a question about their math, and I had to ask my grade six child to help me explain it to his siblings. Let’s just say … math was never my strongest subject.
This isn’t going to be a one-week experiment … we are in this for the long haul.
That means, we are going to need a plan.
The Bible hints at the value of having a plan.
Proverbs 16:3 (NLT)
Commit your actions to the Lord, and your plans will succeed.
Proverbs 13:16 (NLT)
Wise people think before they act; fools don’t—and even brag about their foolishness.
Maybe you feel more like a fool than a wise person these days? But you are no fool! You can do this. However, it requires planning and commitment. Take it day by day. Things are changing too rapidly around us, but in our homes, we can slow things down each day to a manageable pace for our kids.
Every morning, we print off a new Gardiner Daily Schedule that has similarities to the day before but has unique features to fit today.
Here are some of the features that each day includes:
- Personal grooming
- Every morning following breakfast, our kids have to get dressed (anything but pajamas), brush teeth, brush hair, and make their beds.
- God time
- We start the day with a short devotional time. We rotate through the kids leading it. They can read the verse or pray for the day. They can show one of the videos or share a resource that Heartland Kids has provided.
- We have two 45-minute timeslots of schoolwork each morning. These are small chunks of time so that they don’t get discouraged by having hours and hours of work ahead of them. In between the timeslots, we usually have a snack or to a workout.
- One of our biggest learnings in all of this is how capable our kids are. When life is busy, we tend to usher them to the next sports event, or to get their homework done, or whatever else the fast-paced evening has for us before we get the kids to bed. And we as parents take the chore load. But during this time, when there is more time to patient and train them, they are really capable of doing stuff around the house. Everyday after lunch, they have half an hour of chores that they do.
- Set mealtimes
- As parents, it can be wearing on us to constantly hear … “Can I have a snack?” “What’s for dinner?” or “When is lunch?” When you are home with your kids 24-7, you must do what you can to cut down on things that can wear you down. We post mealtimes, what the meals are, when snacks are, what snack options can be. If they ask us any of the above questions, we simply can respond, “Check the schedule.” It is their responsibility to read it and have their questions answered. Planning mealtimes and snacks also lets us set up more healthy options for them instead of making in the moment decisions where we can get talked into less healthy alternatives.
- Tech time and no tech time
- This is a tough one to navigate and each child is different, but what I do know is that this is not a tech-time free for all. Kids need boundaries and guidance in their use of tech time. This includes video games, watching shows and scrolling the internet. Check out this article from the Mayo Clinic on using technology with your kids. It is a good read. We have set times for how much our kids can watch shows or play video games. And we have several times in the day when it is a tech-free zone. This is a daily conversation and each day looks different. Consider having complete chunks of time that are tech free like afternoons or evenings or even one day each week. One of the exceptions to some of the tech free time is if they are video chatting with a friend or a family member. This social connection is important during this time of social distancing.
- Get your kid active every day! They need a minimum of 30 minutes each day. This is easier for some kids and harder for others. You may have to be creative. Last night, we sent our kids on a scavenger hunt around the neighbourhood and gave them a 30-minute time limit in which to be back. They came back totally out of breath trying to complete the tasks in time. Sometimes we do a seven-minute workout. Sometimes each person does their own activity and sometimes we do it all together. A family walk in the evening is also a great idea.
- Outdoor time
- All of us, but especially our kids, need fresh air. Send them outside. I believe this time at home will cause a renaissance of the imagination, a return to simpler days when you could imagine your play. Think back to your childhood when you could play outside for hours in your backyard and you only had a stick, a piece of string and a ball. You and those three items could play out hundreds of possibilities. Let’s help our kids escape the tech world and return to those simpler days when our imaginations were alive and well.
- Free time
- Our kids also like some independence where they can choose what they do. Give them timeslots in the day where they can do what they want.
Alrighty parents, let me close with a couple more thoughts:
- Do what works for your family.
- Don’t be afraid to shake things up when things aren’t working.
- Don’t feel guilty because you aren’t doing what some other family is doing.
- You can do this!
Oh! Also, you aren’t alone!
And God designed it that way …
Proverbs 15:22 (NLT)
22 Plans go wrong for lack of advice; many advisers bring success.
Lean on each other to help with ideas, invite your kids to give input for the plan and look to your Heartland Kids team for resources.
Have a good week Heartland Families.