Saturday, April 25, 2020 4:00 AM
With Noblesville Schools students in eLearning three days a week and my daughter home 24 hours a day with no place that we have to be, it’s been really nice.
We’re relaxed around the house. We fix breakfast, lunch and dinner when we’re hungry rather than by the clock. And we often stay in our PJs or sweatpants all day.
And that’s OK with us.
But I know that some families are finding this time more stressful with everybody home and with kids doing eLearning.
This week, I tuned into the City of Noblesville’s Mental Health Mondays Facebook live featuring Mayor Chris Jensen and licensed Noblesville therapist Kristen Dale Boice, small business owner of Pathways to Healing Counseling. Each week, they talk about mental health and what individuals and families can be doing to take care of their health at home during the COVID-19 (Coronavirus Disease) pandemic. (The virtual program was given a mention recently by The White House Office of Intergovernmental Affairs.)
The Mental Health Mondays goes live with Jensen and Boice at 11 a.m. Mondays. This week, the program was particularly interesting and useful for school families doing eLearning at home due to the Governor’s stay-at-home order.
Boice, who has two middle school-age daughters, said breathing techniques, by inhaling through your nose and exhaling through your mouth, offer “a strategy to help children calm that nervous system down. If you’re (the parent is) calm, they’re going to be calm . . . If we are not calm, our child is not going to be calm and be able to learn well.”
Other advice for families participating in eLearning?
“Acknowledge that this is different,” she said. Families are “trying to get into a new routine. Using the computer, there (are) going to be technical frustrations . . . when we get kicked off a Zoom (video-conferencing) call or the technology doesn’t work . . . Because technology isn’t always reliable, a child “can get very frustrated . . . ” Boice said, “It’s OK to get frustrated.”
But the first thing to do is “breathe.”
She encourages parents to set boundaries of what’s OK and what’s not OK.
“Explanation and communication is really important, not preach and teach, where we go into lecture mode and we go into fix it-mode,” Boice said. She advises parents “to talk through eLearning before eLearning starts. Let’s talk through some of the frustrations. Let’s talk through the calendar. Let’s talk through what you like and what you don’t like so we can have a conversation in order to have a connection.”
One of the focuses she is working on with parents is “connection via communication.” Boice said, “If you’re not connected to your emotions, you’re not going to have connection with your kids.”
Let your kids talk about missing their friends and their frustrations. At the same time, parents need to watch their own expectations. Are parents’ expectations realistic? Are parents in a perfectionist mindset?
Boice said, “Flexibility is critical with eLearning . . . Communicate with your child proactively . . . and also with the teachers. We’re in this together . . . Communication is vital. If we don’t communicate, we’re going to have meltdowns.”
Make sense of frustrations. Take breaks. And create an organized space for doing eLearning.
“The space is really important to teens and kids,” said Boice, thinking about her own household. Ask yourself: “Do you have a dedicated space for teens to do their eLearning?” “Do you have it set up so it’s comfortable?” Let teens set up their own space.
Let them have “fiddle things,” such as a stress ball or something they can fiddle with while eLearning. “It helps your brain.”
Have pictures of your friends up. Have a space that you feel comfortable in, and it’s conducive to your kids being able to focus and learn.
Boice recommended individual spaces for every child doing eLearning. She said, “Coming up with their own space is really important right now in order for them to feel like ‘I’m ready, I can do this.”
-Contact Betsy Reason at email@example.com.
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