It is no exaggeration how challenging times are right now. Most everyone is feeling overwhelmed in some way or another – worries over job security, the economy, the health and safety of loved ones are only a few of the concerns that we are dealing with. For parents these concerns can be compounded if their children are struggling with learning from home. When children are experiencing frustration or sadness due to the lockdown, it complicates their learning. So, what can parents do to help their children stay positive and interested in learning through this unparalleled time?
As Martha Heineman Pieper, Ph.D. and William J. Pieper M.D. explain in Smart Love “The long-term goal is to help your child develop the ongoing capacity to make good choices and pursue them in an unconflicted and competent manner. Children learn to govern themselves effectively only by identifying with your kindness and helpfulness towards them. Genuine self-discipline is generated by a love that is abundant and available.”
High-quality programs understand the importance of these formative years and strive to ensure their preschoolers learn that school is a positive place.
As noted in Smart Love Solutions in Early Childhood, “The purpose of preschool is not to teach your child any particular content, such as color or numbers, but to introduce her to the school setting and show her that it can be enjoyable.”**
If your child’s preschool is offering at-home learning activities they should be voluntary to ensure a positive association with school. If your toddler isn’t happy during an activity, there is no reason to continue as this will only cause conflict and unhappiness in your home. Instead we suggest finding activities that your toddler enjoys and insert some cognitive elements into their play. For example, if your child loves wheels, maybe you can count the wheels of the cars in front of your house. If your toddler loves animals, maybe you can explore if their giraffe is taller than the lion, the polar bear, the monkey, and then fox. Or you can play “I-Spy Something Blue” and have a scavenger hunt to find all the blue toys in your child’s room and have fun counting the blue treasures together! You can find more activities for your toddler and learn how to incorporate learning organically in Smart Love Preschool’s Magic Basket here.
“If you are able to remain available to his needs and his timetable, he will associate the school experience with feeling loved, cared for and in control. This will set the tone for the many years of school to follow.”**
For children in grade school, this time may be more challenging as their schoolwork is likely a requirement and may not offer much flexibility, which adds more stress and pressure to an already stressful situation. Parents may be noticing that when it comes to their schoolwork, their child may be easily frustrated, fatigued, lacking motivation, irritated, or sad. These are appropriate responses as it is very hard to learn when you are missing your friends, irritated from not being able to get help from teachers, or frustrated that you can’t participate in your favorite group activities. So how can parents help their child through these difficulties? By avoiding power struggles, and helping to alleviate their child’s stress, frustrations, or other unpleasant emotions, children will become more available to learn but need their parent’s help to do so.