We thought homeschool would just be for one year and it hasn’t been easy. But kids now are also struggling emotionally for another year of homeschool.
We thought homeschool would last just a year. Or at least, until the pandemic ended. But with Ate Rona getting a new upgrade with the two new variants, looks like our kids are going to be stuck at home again for another year. Just like us who are exhausted from juggling house, work, and homeschool, our kids can feel it too. But it’s going to be hard to break it into them that they’re just going to stay at home again.
How can we emotionally prepare our kids for another year of homeschool?
As long as they’re not vaccinated, it’ll be a while before they’re allowed to have some face-to-face classes again. So, we spoke with two psychiatrists from Philippine General Hospital who are working on the National Survey on Mental Health and Well-Being (NSMHW) — Dr. Marissa de Guzman and Dr. Evelyn Gapuz to share their thoughts and suggestions as to how we can help our kids cope with another year of homeschool.
1. Let them know it’s okay for them to ask for help.
If there’s anything that took a big blow during this pandemic, it’s their mental health and there has been a spike of mental illness cases. Some kids especially teenagers looked forward to being with their friends yet the pandemic forced them to go into social isolation. “The social isolation was also very difficult for some students. Many of them enjoyed the company of friends and looked forward to attending school activities (e.g. sports competitions, proms, field trips, clubs, etc) with their classmates,” says Dr. Gapuz. “These kinds of things are really important especially for adolescents.”
And sometimes, even if we help them cope, they’ll need some professional help. “Encourage your children to speak up if they are feeling overly stressed, anxious, or depressed. We need to focus on listening, not on lecturing,” advises Dr. De Guzman. “And remind them that school counselors are there to help.”
2. Create a morning checklist
Creating a routine for homeschool always helps. Not only does it provide structure but it’ll also allow us and the kids to find out immediately what’s wrong. “When requirements and unfinished workload pile up, students feel overwhelmed and anxious. They don’t know where or how to start working on these requirements such that some of them just give up altogether or go into anxiety attacks,” says Dr. Gapuz.
Even if they’re not leaving the home, it’s good to have a daily checklist even if they’re just moving to another room for classes.
3. Set small manageable goals
We’re so used to the saying “go big or go home” but that sometimes we forget that it can’t be applied to the situation or we’re used to the original learning structure. “Keeping papers organized, interacting with peers — then setting specific, manageable goals for the first days back may help. To ease the transition, create micro-goals for the first few days,” adds Dr. De Guzman. “Let them learn who their teachers are first, their schedules, and then, they can focus on making friends.
4. Set digital meet-ups for the kids and their homeschool classmates
While we’re usually on the fence about screen time, having digital meet-ups before homeschool does help. Especially when the time comes that kids will have to go into face-to-face classes again. “Some young people may be excited to see their friends again, but others may feel anxious. Having some digital meet-ups to meet with their friends/ classmates online before classes start may also help some students,” says Dr. Gapuz. We can even become creative on what activities they can do!
5. Be open-minded about new activities
Especially when we’re stuck at home with the kids, all we have left is our imagination. They’ll probably do a lot of things that aren’t socially normal like speaking in a new language, code a video game, make a monkey suit, believe they’re Spider-Man or Batman but that’s their way of coping too! Besides, it’s good that they have a variety of things — both physical and digital — to keep themselves healthy. “It’s important to maintain adequate physical activity, healthy nutrition, good sleep hygiene, and a nurturing social environment,” says Dr. De Guzman. “Have a healthy media use plan that’s specific to each child and make sure you’re consistent with the rules.”
6. Give our kids the unconditional support they need and want
We often tell ourselves we do but sometimes, it gets miscommunicated especially when there’s conflict. All of us grew up sitting in a classroom where there’s a teacher upfront to teach. But our kids are going into something entirely new and we sometimes forget that the system doesn’t always work for everyone. “Some students from public schools felt very anxious because they were given modules to work on,” explains Dr. Gapuz. “They had a hard time learning how to access educational support from the school for subjects and topics that they couldn’t understand. Towards the end of the year, students were very stressed, tired, emotionally drained, anxious, and depressed.”
Although it’s easy for us to say that “things are going to be okay”, sometimes our kids don’t want to hear that because right now they don’t see it will be. Doing this means we’re minimizing and what they need is someone to recognize that they’re not okay. “Acknowledge what they’re feeling,” advises Dr. De Guzman. “It’ll help us also figure out where we can help.”
It’ll be another year of struggling in homeschool for our kids, but we can do it!
Although some kids may love the homeschool experience, some of us and our kids may not, especially when we’re burning out. We sometimes turn green with envy when we see celeb parents pull off homeschool with their kids so well on social media. But we have to remember that social media only shows the victories, not the struggles. It’ll be another long year and it won’t be easy but it doesn’t mean you’ll have to do this alone. We’re with you, mom and dad!