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Her “No, I don’t want to!” Me “Well, I’ll just have to call Mrs P.”

Is anyone else finding it hard to engage their children in homeschooling? Some days are better than others and once we get into the swing of things it’s generally okay, but getting started has been hard. I had found myself resorting to threats and bribes to coerce my daughter in to doing her work. That made me feel bad. It made her feel bad. I don't want her to think that learning is about getting a treat at the end of a task. I want her to want to learn, and to enjoy it.

I had to do something about it and thought back to some CPD training I had a few years ago about how to help children with social, emotional and mental health difficulties. Using some of the tools that I was introduced to as inspiration, I made a couple of activities to do with my daughter each morning to start off our home schooling day.

Firstly there’s the ‘My day’ activity, where she can find the day of the week, with a reminder that today is a brand new day and we don’t need to worry about yesterday or tomorrow. Secondly we talk about what she feels like and choose a picture that best represents her mood. The SEMH training taught me that a successful way to ‘check in‘ with a child and get them to open up about their feelings is to use metaphor. I choose a picture too (this morning I was a jelly) and tell her how I am feeling. She then chooses a positive motto card. I really believe in the power of positive affirmations and use them personally a lot to ‘reframe’ negative aspects of myself and my life.

The second activity aims to give my daughter more of a feeling of control over her day, to motivate her in her homeschooling and to help alleviate some of the anxiety. I give her the pictures of subjects we will be doing that day, and then she chooses what order to put them in and sticks them on the timetable as a visual reminder of ‘now and next’. It also helps me, because like children, I too thrive on routine and need help with self-discipline. When she says “I don’t want to” instead of grappling for a threat or bribe, I say “I know darling, homeschooling can be hard, let’s see what’s next on your timetable.” or “You do need to do these things today, and you’ve chosen to do handwriting first. let’s get that out the way, and then you’ve chosen to do arts and crafts next.” She loves having ‘her own’ timetable and likes being able to use blutack to stick the pictures on. We refer to the timetable throughout the day, and I remind her of her positive motto if things get a bit tough. It takes the pressure off me being the ‘bad guy’, and she enjoys having that feeling of control and predictability, without realising that she’s actually just doing what I want her to do 😂 I might make a visual timetable for my husband next 😏😉

Here are the activities if you’d like to download and use them. The pictures and mottos are specifically for my 6 year old daughter, so you may want to add some of your own more relevant to your child.

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