Routines to keep harmony at home
There have been a lot of funny posts going round about homeschooling this week – my favourite was the children who have been expelled for fighting and the mother fired for drinking on the job!
I’ve been asked a lot ‘Should we stick to a schedule?’, ‘How much should I be ‘teaching’ my toddler?’
So here are a few of my views:
Children aged 5 and under are much better off just learning through play. Please don’t stress yourself out by trying to formally ‘teach’ them things like the alphabet, numeracy, writing and reading. You can definitely use learning within their games – how many puzzle pieces are there in this puzzle? If I cut this orange in half how many pieces are there,? How do you think you spell DOG? But please don’t stress yourself out by trying to do formal lessons for young children. Children are so much more resistant the minute they sense a parent is trying to take the role of a teacher and it triggers so many arguments. Older children will be getting work set from school which should help. It would help to go over the schedule before your child starts it and break it down into small chunks with breaks in between. Set a time for work and break time.
The other question is ‘how much screen time should they have?’
I am not here to judge. We are all muddling through and screens can not only be a life-saver but can be educational too. There are lots of great programs out there for kids. What I would recommend though is that you have set times when the screen is on and off. It saves on fights, makes everyone’s life so much easier and when the screen is off children use their creativity. They will be naturally drawn to a screen if it is there but once that option is taken away they are far more likely to do something else.
Mealtimes and snack times. I recommend sticking to a schedule with this. As if it were a school day. So breakfast at a set time and get them to help clear it up, mid morning snack of fruit or something light like rice cakes, lunch – make it as easy as possible for yourself, baked beans on toast, a cheese sandwich, pizza and have some vegetable sticks cut up with it. Same mid-afternoon and then suppertime. Each time give your child a job to do – set the table, clear their place or even let them stand at the sink to wash their plate.
It can really help to draw up your routine so that children see what is happening. It gives them comfort and reassurance to know what is happening during the day. Include screen times and exercise times within the schedule. There are some great free exercise classes being shown online too. Do it with them as it can be a lot of fun.
Here are 5 ideas of ways to occupy them that you might not have thought about.
- Give them a piece of spaghetti and let them thread cheerios onto it. It is great for hand-eye coordination and is surprisingly difficult. Stick one end of the spaghetti in a piece of playdough or blue tack.
- Let them sit in the bath naked or in underwear. Give them large bowl filled with warm water and bath bubbles or washing up liquid and give them objects to wash. If the weather is nice and you have the space you can do this outside. They can wash cars, duplo pieces, dolls, playmobil. Give them a few things at a time.
- Let them make a ‘camp’ in the living room or in their bedroom. Get four chairs and a big blanket that you throw over the chairs. They can take cushions, books and a torch inside. Camps can keep them busy for a long time.
- Play ‘what’s in the bag’, get a cloth bag and put about 10 random items in it. This can be small toys, a piece of pasta, a piece of fruit or a vegetable, an old phone, a set of keys. They have to put their hands in the bag and without looking guess what it is and everyone takes turns to do it.
- Make books – staple together a few sheets of folded paper into a book. They can draw in it, stick magazine photos in it, a leaf, any thing.
I hope these ideas help. I know that each activity might only take a short amount of time and there are many hours in the day to fill. From what I’ve heard it gets easier over time as everyone adjusts and gets into a rhythm.
Make sure you keep breathing and keep your spirits up with things like a daily list of 10 things you are grateful for. It makes a big difference