Throughout my career as a psychologist, quite often I would write as a means to help others understand and sometimes cope with a worldly situation. Now, in my role with All Covered, I’m feeling compelled to offer some helpful suggestions to my colleagues and businesses workers who are also parents and are immersed in our current challenges surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic.
While many know me from the All Covered Education team, where I focus on interactive classroom solutions, I actually started my career as a psychologist specializing in neurologic and motor devolvement. I operated a private clinic for nearly 20 years, where I assembled a team of occupational, physical and visual therapists as well as social workers. The practice was created to work with struggling students – not from an academic perspective, but from the developmental side – which affected their ability to emerge and thrive as visual thinkers.
And so, my inspiration or feeling of purpose to write this blog is to discuss the common struggle I saw with parents trying to make their child do their homework. As it stands today, parents are now doing more than just daily homework help, as we find ourselves taking on new roles under various stay-at-home orders across the nation. And this holds true not only for students everywhere, but also for those that find school challenging for a myriad of reasons.
The simple answer I always gave was, “You are the parent, not the teacher. If they couldn’t do it at school, why would they be able to do it at home?” But now, that scripted answer doesn’t work. So let’s change the way we look at this and break it up for a more digestible approach.
What does their day look like?
This was always one of the pressing concerns from parents, and it usually stemmed around morning routines: “I constantly have to tell them what to do – brush your teeth, get dressed, come downstairs for breakfast.” Jim Faye would tell us in his books, Parenting with Love and Logic, that if they didn’t get dressed, then take them to the bus stop in their PJs. (That’s a little hardcore for me and I would assume the same for most parents.) What I told parents then and still do today, is that in order to perform these tasks, kids have to have a picture in their head to follow. And that is the difference between the auditory processors and the visual processors. For example, if you say “can you go upstairs in the hall closet, behind the green towel and bring me a band aid?” the visual processor can ‘see’ everything that you asked and can picture in their mind’s-eye exactly where the band aids are located. The auditory processor would either have to rehearse the commands all the way upstairs ‘hall closet, green towel, band aid’ or they would go upstairs and holler down ‘what did you want?’ Or more frustrating for parents is the possibility that they would go upstairs into the abyss and disappear for an hour with no recollection of the band aid request.
Let us now apply this to our home-schooling routine.
First, we should not be creating their daily routines. We should be guiding them to come up with their own plans for the day and take ownership of those plans to help to drive the plan home. This becomes a learning moment to see if the plans that they set forth can actually work. Then, each week, you can re-evaluate to see if the plan was solid or needs to be tweaked.
With students in the fourth grade and beyond, autonomy is the key to success. For the children that are struggling with remembering the plan for the day, I suggest getting out some paper and having your children draw out the day like comic strip panels. This is what it looks like when I wake up, this is me brushing my teeth, here I am eating breakfast, now I’m reading a book, etc. They will have a much easier time remembering their daily plan if it’s set out in pictorial form. Since they drew the pictures, they will take ownership of it and become an active stakeholder in their own plan.
Consistency, is it important?
My advice is, if your child needs consistency, then be consistent. But keep in mind that some will get bored quickly with the mundane repetition. So try to mix it up on specific days and those simple tweaks may keep them engaged and give them something to look forward to. Interestingly enough, you may find this as a solution for parents tired or frustrated with the same rut as well.
I hope that this information is helpful and “hits home” in a way that is meaningful during this time. In my next few blogs I will dig deeper into the foundations of learning and specific exercises you can do with your children at home to promote a solid foundation for learning, and most importantly, a happy educated member of the family. Our All Covered Education team’s passion lies in being able to help as many students nationally as possible. We approach every school with students in mind day in and day out. It is with this foundation that we are confident we can help you find what your school needs to inspire the future generation and provide them with modern classroom technology and equitable access.