As exhausted as I may be from just one day of home-based learning (HBL) last week, I am glad that home-based learning is mandatory – what is a month, or even a year, of schooling in exchange for Joy not having to fight for her life.
To manage home-based learning, and me starting full-time work from home as well, I preferred to work out a schedule or, at least, run through what-to-expect in general while we await any specific timetable from the school. Since many were interested after I posted it on instagram stories, here’s a breakdown of what Joy and I typically go through during a serious discussion, where some commitment to actions are needed.
Talk about the feelings first
As Joy is a highly sensitive child, I prefer to start with asking her how she feels and understands about whats happening, so that she knows that I care a lot about how it impacts her. This helps her feel that our discussion comes from a place of understanding and she is usually more cooperative after that.
This time for example, she indicated anxiousness from uncertainty as one of her fears and I committed to taking that into consideration for all the plans we will make.
Priorities and Expectations
We came up items which we felt were most important for the month-long period. 2 each, because ideals are unlimited but, realistically, time isn’t:
- Joy: Enough time to play and relax + Complete all HBL requirements
- Me: Being able to WFH effectively + Getting us fed, rested and healthy
These are expectations we have of each other. I find that it sort of creates a sense of safety for Joy to know that her stress and worries are known to me.
- Joy: For mummy to understand that she is still a child. While she is willing to try, she needs time to learn independence. (She is willing + she can’t promise perfection)
- Me: For Joy to be aware that she is capable of helping with the situation at home, even if she doesn’t do it perfectly to schedule. ( She is capable + I don’t expect perfection)
List of activities
If I moved on to the learning portions next, it would turn the discussion heavy, so, I invite her to write down what she would enjoy doing at home. It has to all come from her because she knows best what she likes. Here’s her list:
Particularly, these are activities she can do independently while I work but with the understanding that I will join her if I can.
Sneak in housework
I always believe that crisis give rise to opportunities. It’s a great time to reinforce the idea that she is capable of helping out at home, and I want it to gradually become her habits at home so, I asked Joy to come up with a list of the things she can do help us with the day-to-day:
Pick out ingredients to defrost, beat eggs, simple cutting, simple stir fry
Air-frying processed food, simple sandwiches, packet snacks
If she does even some of the above on a daily basis, it would already relieve my workload, so the plan is to keep praising her when she does any at all, rather than point my finger if she doesn’t or forgets.
Sell the idea of more playtime when you finish your work
Joy is very distracted by her need to play and very restless, so her concentration span tends to wonder off when working on school work but, I use play as a motivation. I told her that if at any point in the schedule, she finishes what she’s supposed to do, she can use the remaining time as play time. She quickly understood that it means so much more play time theoretically.
The heavy stuffs
Now that she is motivated by play, I took the chance to move into the heavy stuffs – work. It includes:
- Home-based learning
- Work on subject of the day
I am not going to fuss about extra education work each day (but she must not know) because its a time slot I factor in for left over work and work that may take more time for any particular day. Breathing space is important for Joy and that’s what I intend to provide but on efficient days, we might really do some revision work.
Learning the planning process
For children like Joy, who has some anxiety from not knowing what to expect, I find it necessary to involve and show her how she can plan for herself. Although I’m a work-first-play-later kind of person, in our schedule, there is a block between 3pm to 5pm where I told her she can decide to do the housework first or play first, it’s entirely up to her control.
I’m pretty sure there will be days where she chooses play first and does not have enough time to do housework but to me, that is an opportunity to show her time management and I’m actually looking forward to it.
The tentative time-table
This is the time table white board that we have in our study, that is exclusively for Joy’s use. (If you’re curious, you can read about our habits here)
Although we are waiting for any specific HBL timetable or requirements from the school, I transferred all of our discussion into a tentative time table so that Joy can understand it visually. This removes any uncertainty or anxiety about how she can cope if I have to work and she needs to be independent.
At the end of the day, every family’s HBL learning schedule (if any) will look different. I’m reluctant to say that our methods will work for everyone but hopefully, this helps in some way if you have a sensitive child like mine who may benefit from knowing what to expect, or if you will be able to head into HBL + WFH better with a schedule like this. Good luck!
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