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This post is in partnership with Sylvan Learning.

It’s been 330 days since life has been “normal” where I live, can you believe it? And we, you and me, made it! 

Yes, nearly a full year of mostly remote/hybrid learning or schooling at home has meant more time at home, more messes, bored kids, confused and overwhelmed spouses, kids, families, financial instability and fear. 

And yet, here you are, surviving, maybe even thriving in these uncertain times. What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, right? I posted this photo on my Instagram @arielctyson right after the schools closed back in March 2020 for the first time:

And it still is very much a jungle, but we’ve navigated, learned and grown! I want to share a few tips that have helped me get through this past year and some helpful tools I discovered through Sylvan Learning HERE which complement our homeschool curriculum. 

The combination of our curriculum and supplemental resources have helped us to further enhance both the boys’ educational journey and build confidence in learning new things. And let’s be real, it has helped in my journey as a homeschool mama. My confidence in teaching them is often like a roller coaster ride, especially with 6 very active boys, who often learn best hanging from the aerial hammock, bouncing on the exercise ball or running through the yard.

If you are feeling anything like this, first give yourself a hug, you are amazing and raising beautiful children. Hopefully, my five tips for surviving, and hopefully THRIVING, in the remote/hybrid or all-at-home learning experience, will help!

Tip #1: Don’t be rigid. Every child is different and every child’s strengths and weaknesses are unique. Be fluid with their education. Make goals for your day and try to reach them, but don’t focus on the negatives. One of the focuses of SYLVAN LEARNING is to enable parents and kids to regain confidence in themselves and their education, and this is one of the ways that I do that. Not every child fits into the same box so I use different tools for each of my boys, based on their needs.

Tip #2: Use outside resources. This is one of the ways Sylvan has come in to play in our daily learning. Did you know that, along with their personalized online and in-person tutoring, they also offer academic coaching, test prep and advancement, STEM programs, homework and study skills and homeschool support? My boys have even been using their learning assets, like their Elementary Math Games and Puzzles:

And I can use these resources to dig deeper into concepts they don’t understand or easily grasp. It’s so important to take time to go over what they don’t understand. We then move quickly through anything they easily grasp so they don’t get bored. I focus on growing their strengths, like robotics, art, history, handwriting or music, with my school-aged boys, and support them in that. I then look for extra support for the areas they struggle in, like reading and spelling for my two boys who deal with dyslexia, which is where personalized tutoring support comes in handy. I also utilize apps, games, puzzles and videos:

Tip #3: Take breaks. This, my friends, is for both the kids and the mamas or dads! We take both planned and unplanned breaks throughout the day. And, especially if there’s any frustration, we take a break, get some energy out, and come back to it later. What they do on a break looks different for each child. Encourage your kids to find what works for them! I have one who needs to flip on a trampoline, one who wants to build with his Lego blocks, one who wants to ride his bike, one who wants to check out the STEM class with SYLVAN LEARNING and another who would prefer to paint.

As a parent, what is something that would fill your cup during a break? For me, that’s often a quick walk outside, a latte or some reading. Be sure you’re meeting those needs for yourself so you can function with a clear mind!

Tip #4: Teach organizational and time-management skills. Kids aren’t born with these skills and many adults don’t have them because they never learned them as kids. It takes practice and I was so excited to discover this past week that SYLVAN LEARNING offers training to turn a procrastinator into a time-management master, as you can see in the sample here:

I want to set my kids up to not only do well in school in the years to come, but for when they enter the work world. With so much at-home learning going on, it can often be easy to neglect the development of time-management skills, and while I am fluid in how I teach them, I do want them to have set times, goals and deadlines for getting tasks accomplished, so I loved finding this helpful tool. I also use timers, alarms and my calendar on my phone to keep them on track, and they’ll use the same tactics on their kindle devices for themselves.

Tip #5: Foster independence. I’m often asked how I manage to take care of all of the things in my home, homeschool and work from home. Well, the truth is, my boys handle a good bit of their own responsibilities. They’ve been taught to be independent and enjoy the independence given to them. 

Now, will I expect my three-year-old to perfectly clean our toilets? Ha! Definitely not! But I do expect him to put his own clothes away and clean up his spills. I’ve worked on fostering independence by not only showing my kids how to do it when they ask, but by training them how to do it by themselves every single time. And guess what, they THRIVE off of the independence. Are they perfect every time? Absolutely not! Do they need to be regularly reminded? Most every day (especially for the younger ones who seem blind to any of their stuff being left around the house!), but as they grow, my older boys now do so much on their own. 

For example, my older three were trained early on how to log on to their online program for school and maneuver around their curriculum portal, only asking me questions when needed. This has helped them become more confident because they understand how to do so many things for themselves, and it helps me when caring for all of my responsibilities.

Do you already implement any of these strategies or methods? If not, will you give them a try and share your experience with me? I hope these five tips for any type of at-home learning have been helpful to you! Do you have any methods or strategies that differ from these? I would love to hear about them! Please remember, if you have any questions for Sylvan Learning, head to sylvanlearning.com Have a great week!

Your crazy boy mom friend,

Ariel