Ask The Experts – Homeschooling

With the current lockdown falling in the darkest days of winter, there’s no denying that it is carrying a high emotional toll for so many. Over the coming weeks, we’ll be calling on our in-house experts to focus on the challenges that employees are facing, helping to arm you with practical solutions and advice.

In this, the first of our series, Tracey Paxton, Managing Director of The Employee Resilience Company, a partner of BHSF, shares her top tips for success at being a parent, teacher and an employee all at once.

“Parental stress, depression, and anxiety have again increased since new national restrictions have been introduced according to the latest report from the Oxford University-led COVID-19 Supporting Parents, Adolescents, and Children in Epidemics (Co-SPACE) study”.

This fact won’t come as a surprise to many working parents who are already feeling the strain of juggling their work lives with the responsibilities of home-schooling. We’re no different here at BHSF with our own employees wondering how they will cope with the stress and competing priorities of home-schooling in lockdown 3.0.

So what can help?

Routine is Important

Keep a proper timetable to help your child feel safe and secure.  Schoolwork must start at the same time every day and follow a structure. Do not let children play around when it is time to work but give them sufficient breaks. Keep to regular times for going to bed, waking up, eating meals, and participating in hobbies where possible. However, keep weekends as free as possible.

Fun Time

Make sure you do fun and enjoyable things together like baking or playing board games. There should be time for work and time for play.  Despite the national struggles of lockdown, there are a few positives to be gleaned from the crisis. As work life, home life and school life blur into one, the situation can unite a family and bring them closer together.

It is also important to make sure that everyone in the family has some time for themselves. Everybody needs some “me time”.

Keeping in Touch and Staying Connected

Keep in touch with friends and family. Create a WhatsApp or Zoom with friends to share stories, pick-up tips on how others are coping and more importantly just to catch up with your friends – laughing brings a bit of normality!

Stay Active

Make sure everyone gets some physical exercise, whether it is playing with a ball, taking a jog around the block, or walking the dog. Too many hours locked up inside is not good for anyone’s mental health or relationships.

Update your IT Skills

Learn how to use different online learning platforms.  Its difficult juggling your own work and trying to help your child access the many different windows and documents they need during the school day.  Your child will feel more confident and be more receptive to lessons if they can navigate their way around a computer.

Supporting your Child

Ensure you spend time talking to your child and more importantly listen to their concerns.  Reassure them and let them know its normal for them to feel a little scared, worried and isolated.  They have been used to being with their schoolfriends, having teacher support throughout their day and talking through their concerns will help them feel a little calmer.

If your child asks questions about the pandemic, try to answer their queries in an age-appropriate manner and reassure them that you are there for them and you will get through this together.

“You are not alone, parents across the world are facing the same challenge due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Parenting can be challenging and stressful at the best of times and the current circumstances are inevitably making parenting even more stressful.

With schools and nurseries closing, many families are now together 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, balancing working from home with childcare and home schooling. Social distancing has made it difficult for people to pursue leisure activities or meeting friends and family, therefore impacting on that all too important ‘time out’. This may impact on our normal coping mechanisms in dealing with stress.”

Do not be too critical on yourself or your children – this is an abnormal situation, and everyone is doing the best they can. It’s no easy task being a parent, temporary teacher, employer/employee and maybe a carer all at once, so do not be too hard on yourself.  Give yourself a break.  It’s important to look after your own health and wellbeing to care and support the others around you.

Access Expert Advice and Support
The pandemic has presented us with issues we may never had encountered before. Therefore, access to personalised on demand advice and support from qualified mental and physical health practitioners, specialist carer support as well as access to financial and legal experts enables you to overcome the struggles you may be facing during these unprecedented times.

BHSF RISE provides a tailored service that will meet your individual needs and gives you access to your own dedicated Case Manager who will personally assist you.

Contact our enquiry team on 0121 454 3601 or email [email protected] 

Tracey Paxton has 30 years’ experience of working within the NHS as a practicing clinician and a senior hospital manager. Tracey is an Advanced Nurse Practitioner/Non-Medical Prescriber and Registered Nurse in Learning Disabilities and Mental Health and has an MSc in Cognitive Behavioral Psychotherapy.