Showing posts with label home schooling. Show all posts
Showing posts with label home schooling. Show all posts

5 Tips From a Play Therapist to Help Kids Express Themselves and Unwind

Fantasy play, painting, playing made-up games and building with blocks are a few examples of free play.

Professor of Play Therapy, University of South Carolina - August 12, 2021

This article was originally published in The Conversation

As many children go back to school after 18 months of global pandemic, social isolation and on-and-off remote learning, they too are feeling the additional stress and uncertainty of these times.

Children need play to decompress and communicate in ways that are meaningful to them. Play is how they express themselves, process their day and solve problems. It’s essential for their social, emotional, creative and cognitive well-being. Play helps teach them self-regulation, boundary setting and decision-making.

As a licensed clinical mental health counselor and registered play therapist and supervisor, I spend a lot of my time helping people understand children. I show adults how to see the world through kids’ eyes and how to engage them on their level.

After so much isolation and increased demands on parents and families during the COVID-19 pandemic, I believe now is an important time for parents and caregivers to increase their understanding of, communication with and connection to their children – through play.

Structured play helps children learn to manage their emotions, take turns, follow rules and deal with feelings of frustration as well as feelings of success.

Structured vs. Unstructured Play

There are two main types of play that provide cognitive and emotional benefits for kids – structured play and unstructured play, or free play.

Structured play – such as board games, puzzles and individual or team sports – involves instructions and follows a set of rules. An objective or purpose of the play is established. Structured play helps children learn to manage their emotions, take turns, follow rules and deal with feelings of frustration as well as feelings of success.

Unstructured play, also called free play, encourages children to do what interests them without adult direction. It doesn’t require an outcome or product. Unstructured play allows the child’s brain to recover from a highly structured school day and provides a sense of freedom. It fosters problem-solving, resilience and creativity, and gives kids time and space to make sense of their experiences. Examples of unstructured or free play include fantasy play, painting, playing made-up games with others and building with blocks.

This time is special because the parent is engaging with the child in a very different way than other interactions throughout the day.

Free Play Tips

Although free play is child-led, parents can engage with their child during this time. Here are five tips based on Sue Bratton and Garly Landreth’s child-parent relationship therapy, which uses play to build stronger and healthier parent-child attachment.

1. Get on their level

Create a space on the floor with some of their toys or join them in their play area. Sit on the ground with them. Let them know that this is their “special play time.” This time is special because the parent is engaging with the child in a very different way than other interactions throughout the day.

2. Allow the child to lead

Allow the child to direct the play. If asked what to play, try responding, “You get to decide what we play today.”

3. Show interest

Parents can do this by providing feedback. State what you see your child is doing without any notion of acceptance or approval: “You’re playing with the doll” or “You’re coloring that red.” Repeat back what your child says: “Cars go fast” or “Yellow is your sister’s favorite color.” Reflect the feelings that your child is expressing: “You feel happy when your car wins” or “You’re mad when you lose the race.” This type of responding illustrates the parent’s engagement without taking over the play.

4. Set limits and boundaries

Play that is child-led does not mean the child can break toys or hurt themselves or others. Sometimes the parent may need to step in and set a limit if the child’s behavior becomes destructive or harmful. Be sure to validate the feeling the child is exhibiting and provide another option for that behavior. For example: “You are mad right now, but people aren’t for hitting. You can hit the stuffed animal instead.”

5. Be consistent

Children thrive on stability and consistency. Try to implement the “special play time” each week for about 30 minutes and use a timer to ensure the amount of play time is consistent and your child is prepared for the ending. This special play time should take place regardless of behavior and should not be used as a punishment or reward.

This article was originally published by  The Conversation

The Conversation is a nonprofit organization working for the public good through fact- and research-based journalism.The Conversation

The Conversation

Thinking of Switching to Homeschooling Permanently After Lockdown? Here Are 5 Things to Consider


This article was originally published by  The Conversation

Homeschooling registrations for children in Victoria in 2020 grew by almost four times the rate of the previous year, recent reports show.

Some families who had children learning from home during lockdown discovered they enjoyed spending more time together and some children found they learnt better at home. Parents may have recognised academic or social challenges for their child at school and decided to continue with homeschooling.

But even before COVID-19, homeschooling was on the rise. If you’re considering homeschooling because your child seems to do better at home, but are unsure if it’s the right thing to do, here are five things to take into account.

1. Homeschooling is different to remote learning

Homeschooling is different from remote learning. Remote learning is the experience of teachers delivering the school curriculum to children at home, as was done during the recent school closures. This is more like distance education, which some families do if they live remotely, for instance.

In homeschooling, parents have elected to meet their child’s educational needs themselves, rather than using government or other school options.

Homeschooling is legal in all states and territories in Australia but there are differing registration and monitoring requirements.

2. It takes a lot of time and effort

Some parents put together a school structure at home with lesson plans and routine break times. They may employ a tutor to help with their child’s education or do this themselves.

Others choose to use an unstructured or “unschooling” learning method. This is an informal way of learning that advocates student-chosen activities rather than teacher-directed lessons.

Even if parents decide to teach children in an informal way, they will need to put in significant time and effort.

The process of developing a homeschooling routine takes time, effort and patience. Parents may be required to submit a plan to their state education department, which, in most cases, should show an alignment between their child’s learning and the national curriculum.

Parents may have to develop or implement a full school curriculum at home without the resources available in schools.

Even if parents decide to teach children in an informal way, they will need to put in significant time and effort. For example, a parent may use a trip to the shops to cover geography (the child navigating), mathematics (the child calculating the cost of items), or economics (supply and demand factors), but this may add hours to a routine shop.

So, parents will need to consider their ability and desire to take on this leading role in their child’s education. For some parents it can also take an emotional toll and feel isolating if there isn’t a plan or enough support.

3. Consider social and other difficulties at school

Some families homeschool on religious or ideological grounds; others are motivated by practical limitations to school access — such as if the school is too far from home or their child has a disability.

Many individual children can face difficulties going to school, such as the separation of leaving their carer or parent. Other children may be bullied at school.

Some young people who have died by suicide were found to have done so after persistent bullying.

There is very little research into the effects on children who are experiencing difficulties at traditional schools and change to homeschooling.

But parents should know schools have a legal obligation to provide a safe environment for children. They must address bullying behaviour and provide support for both the victim and the perpetrator. When there are difficult interactions parents, teachers, the school and children (where appropriate) should collaborate to improve the situation.

Children often need support from teachers and parents to navigate exposure to bullying. But if the behaviour is allowed to continue with options exhausted, students will be more likely to experience negative psychological health from ongoing bullying.

Data from 2016 show around 70% of children aged 12–13 experienced at least one bullying-like behaviour within a year. All forms of bullying have the potential to create long-term and disastrous psychological as well as physical effects. Some young people who have died by suicide were found to have done so after persistent bullying.

Evidence suggests bullying constitutes a traumatic experience for students who are bullied. How teachers and schools respond to bullying and the frequency of bullying can also result in mental distress for students.

Not all schools can and do adequately manage bullying and other unsafe situations children may be in. In these instances, parents may decide to remove their child from school and homeschool their child.

Parents can consider whether their child is showing ongoing signs of psychological distress such as changes in behaviour, withdrawal from others, irritability or problems concentrating.

Specialist support from a psychologist may help parents and students to understand the benefits and limitations of changing schools and homeschooling. If there are underlying social or separation anxieties involved, these issues should be addressed as they are likely to linger at home too.

4. Children can thrive academically

Children’s academic outcomes need to be considered in the context of the parents’ motivation for choosing homeschooling. For example, if a parent’s primary concern is religious education their focus may not be on their child gaining the highest year 12 results possible.

Research shows academic results of children who are home educated are mixed. This is partly because there are diverse parental motivations which may or may not prioritise academic pursuits.

In Australia, some studies have focused on NAPLAN results. These suggest home-educated students score higher than state averages across every measure. The effect continues even if the child returns to school.

Children who are homeschooled may be doing well because they receive one-on-one attention. Or it could be because the child’s learning is personalised and the child has agency over their learning.

5. Children can be socialised in both environments

Socialisation is again influenced by parental motivations and the education methods employed.

Homeschooled young people can have a diverse range of social interactions with people of different ages, including adults.

An Australian survey of homeschooling families showed nearly 50% of children participated in at least one club activity. This included 24 different sports — from AFL to aerial silks and yoga — and clubs including lego and chess. Around 40% attended at least one regular learning group. Classes included new languages, gardening, Shakespeare and archaeology.

The majority of research participants regularly had “play dates” with homeschooling and/or non-homeschooling families. Children actively participated in their community through the arts, including community theatre, bands, choirs, dance and visual arts classes.

Parents should consider the reasons behind their choice to homeschool and seek advice to ensure the best outcomes for their child socially, emotionally and academically.

This article was originally published by
  The Conversation
The Conversation is a nonprofit organization working for the public good through fact- and research-based journalism.The Conversation

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