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How to Stay Sane While School is Out

You are not a teacher and you know it. Helpful tips to stay sane until April 20.
By Katrina Rozga CCC MC (Psych)
Schools are going to be closed for yet another month and parents around Hong Kong have let out a collective scream.
While the need for these closures is understood, it doesn’t help parents who may struggling to juggle telecommuting with assisting their children with school work all day. Here are a few tips to minimise the stress and stay motivated while home schooling is in effect.
1. Start the day right
Sleeping in a little later is always tempting, especially if you are facing a difficult day. However, waking up a little early and calmly preparing yourself will make for a smoother path ahead. Get up, get dressed, have a healthy breakfast, and prioritise your tasks. Putting yourself in the right mindset with a plan is more valuable than an extra 30 minutes of sleep.
Feel free to add other beneficial activities to this time. Work out, meditate, or just sit in peace and quiet and plan how you would like the day ahead to go.
2. Stick to a routine
Consistency is key when setting a routine. Have children wake up at the same time every morning, wash up, get dressed and eat breakfast. Treat the day the same way you would if school was in session to create structure at home. This will have the additional benefit of creating the unspoken expectation that it is business as usual, even though the situation is unusual.
Kids behave best when routines are clear and explicit, so be sure to articulate these expectations. If necessary, there are helpful checklists available on line to help kids keep sticking a regular morning routine. 
3. Everybody needs a break
Build routine into study time, too. This includes regular breaks. Make sure children have the opportunity to engage in free play during these rests so they can decompress and process their thoughts and feelings. Home schooling isn’t easy for kids either! Try to make break times screen-free to give their eyes a rest from close-up viewing.
Whenever possible, take them outside to run and play. Fresh air, sunshine, and exercise will help sweep away those feelings of cabin fever. Time spent in natural settings, like parks and hiking trails, is well known to reduce stress. Take advantage of Hong Kong’s parks, beaches, and paths to let go of the day’s frustrations and focus on the bigger picture.
4. Cultivate independence
Staying on task can be difficult for students whether they are at home or at school. Help them to maintain their focus by keeping their home work space free of distractions. Turn off the TV, put phones aside, and keep their workspace free of clutter that might pull their attention away from school work.
Don’t let kids use you as a distraction either, peppering you with questions and requests for help. Encourage them to do as much work as they can on their own. If they are stuck on a question, tell them to work ahead, and then come back to it. If they run across a few difficult questions, have them create a list, and ask for help at the end of the exercise.
Depending on how your child’s school is operating, you can also encourage your child to plan for question time with their teacher during online instruction periods.
5. A clear end to the day
Evening routines are important to signal the end of the home school day. When school is at home, there is no clear separation between work and rest. Have a chime, a song, or some other way to signal that the school day is done. Then, put school materials away and reward them for their work with a game, story time, or a playdate with friends.
6. Do your best
You aren’t a teacher and you know it. You have other responsibilities so you can only do your best. If your kids only made it through half the school work today because it was impossible to do more, don’t beat yourself up about it.
Most parents are not equipped to replace their children’s teacher, much less the entire school experience. Without school, kids not only lose out on their teachers teaching, but also on social interactions with friends and all the stimulation the school environment offers, including PE, art, access to a library and so much more.
Doing so would be a full-time job – but then Hong Kong parents already know that!
Do you need help with home schooling? Consider our Home School Supervision Sessions. Click HERE for more information.