Brooksville, FL: We may not like it, and it is not much fun, but we are all experiencing a new and not-so-exciting way of living right now. There are ways to decrease the anxiety and stress that can cause families to break down in times like this. It is important to remember, we all need physical distancing, but socially, we need each other more than ever. We are not stuck at home; we are safe at home.
Parents, you do not have to be super-heroes. Take a deep breath and prioritize. Celebrate the successes and keep your list short each day. It is okay not to be an expert at everything, and I know some of you are trying to do just that. Having to hold school from home is one of the most stressful adjustments.
Teachers are working to provide both instructions and work for all students. Parents are not expected to become teachers overnight. Teaching is a career, one that requires passion, training, and a college degree. All children across this nation are facing challenges and they are not expected to excel or be able to concentrate for long periods. They, too, are coping during this crisis, so have extra patience with them and do not push for ‘in your seat concentration’ right now.
School can be adjusted to different hours of the day. More importantly, your child does not have to be ‘in school’ for six hours. Do what is best for you and your family, especially if you have multiple children and you are (trying) to work from home. As for instruction time, several youth development experts suggest 1-2 hours for elementary ages, 2-3 hours for middle school ages, and 3-4 for those in high school (Poole-Boykin, 2020). Remember, break those hours up and allow for physical activity in between.
Other activities have always been educational, as well. Cooking involves a great deal of math and some science. Doing chores is physical exercise as well as responsibility taking. Coloring or crafts is not only fun and relaxing but can be equated to an art class. Outdoors is a great place to learn. Nature and environment scavenger hunts are readily available or make up your own. Do you have an elderly or compromised neighbor you and your children can help by doing yard work? Children also learn from what they see and hear, so model patience and understanding, ask questions when you don’t know, and reach out for help.
Some other ways for you to decrease your anxiety and help your family (UF, 2020):
1. Take in the news a little at a time. Check the news once or twice a day, and don’t obsess over numbers. The news reports 24/7, but you can take it in much less often.
2. Keep moving, exercise, take walks. Dancing in your living room, holding a dance party for the family, or just walking together around the neighborhood can be calming and good for the heart. Exercise releases endorphins, boosting your mindset and calming the nerves.
3. Be kind and help someone. Doing for others decreases feelings of helplessness and empowers you to feel hopeful. It can be small and benefit only one person and still be impactful. Even buying a meal from a local restaurant can help their employees and feed your family. Children are often social beings and they are missing school mates, friends, events, and more. Be mindful of their emotions and behaviors as they struggle to understand the same things we are as adults. Consider digital platforms for visits.
UF/IFAS Extension 4-H is the hands-on youth development program of the University of Florida whose mission is to use a learn-by-doing approach and caring adults to help youth gain the knowledge and life skills they need to be productive, responsible citizens. To achieve its mission, 4-H accesses the expertise and resources of the University of Florida and a nationwide network of Cooperative Extension Service faculty and staff. Nationally, 4-H is the largest youth development organization, serving families for nearly 115 years. UF/IFAS Extension programs are open to all persons without regard to race, color, sex, age, disability, religion, or national origin.
For more information about 4-H in Hernando County, contact 4-H Agent Nancy A. Moores at [email protected] or by calling 352/754-4433 ext. 2.
Poole-Boykin. March 25, 2020. Homeschooling during COVID-19: Why all kids many not need eight hours of instruction a day at home. Retrieved from https://www.goodmorningamerica.com/family/story/parents-teachers-tips-homeschooling-covid-19-kids-hours-69774140
UF’s Center for OCD, Anxiety and Related Disorders at the University of Florida. April 1, 2020. Self-care tips to support a sense of normalcy and calm. Gainesville, FL.