You don't have to teach your child perfectly right now

You thought you were busy before, with all your jobs as parent, cook, chauffeur, medical manager, feeder, interpreter, advocate, clothing changer, and emotional support. But now, you get to add another job to the list: Special Education Teacher.

As if you didn’t have enough to do already. But I know you’re capable of facing this new occupation and making life more relaxing and enjoyable along the way. Let’s talk about the issue for a second and then I’ll show you how.

It’s difficult to teach kids with disabilities at home.

For so many kids with disabilities, being around their peers and teachers is such a vital part of their education. It’s not as easy as walking them through some worksheets and then pouring yourself a martini to celebrate some work well done. That human interaction doesn’t translate into a worksheet.

Combine that with factors such as:

  • your child doesn’t work for you as well as they do for their teacher

  • the usual accommodations your child needs aren’t available

  • they’re upset that their routine has changed

and what you’re left with is a homeschooling disaster.

What makes this harder?

Your child’s school may not have to help you.

Schools are struggling to provide for their kids with disabilities right now. With the new coronavirus aid package, we’re waiting to see if Betsy Devos, The U.S. Secretary of Education, will ask Congress to no longer require certain schools to provide a free and appropriate education as protected in the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).

So where does this leave you?

All of a sudden, you’re now responsible for your child’s education.

Who qualified you to become a special education teacher? No one did. Yet, you’re still the one in charge of everything your child learns right now. You’re the one who is trying to do something, anything, with your child to further their education while simultaneously working from home, teaching your non-disabled kids, working your essential job while everyone else stays home, or freaking out about how you’re going to pay your bills.

Sound like a great time to start your teaching career? Probably not. So here’s what will help:

Expect less of yourself.

Yup, I said it. Expect less.

However I didn’t say, “become complacent,” or “don’t try.” I simply said, “expect less,” and here’s why:

When you don’t live up to your own expectations, you tend to get in your head and say things like, “I suck at this. Why am I even trying? This is useless! I’m just a horrible parent who can’t teach their own child.” You’re basically attacking yourself with words, and your brain goes into survival mode. In this state, your brain can’t think about anything except running away or fighting, so it certainly can’t figure out complex problems like how to juggle everything, what to prioritize, or strategies to teach your child.

Allowing yourself to not be great at teaching takes your brain out of survival mode.

If you simply allow yourself the space to not be great at teaching your child, then your brain suddenly has room to breathe and grow and be creative. You can replace those negative thoughts from before with thoughts like:

  • “Oops! That didn’t work so well. I wonder what would happen if I tried...”

  • “I’m feeling overwhelmed. I wonder what I can take out of my schedule to make things more manageable.”

  • “I’m frustrated that I can’t get through to my child. Taking a break might help my mind calm down and think.”

If you change those negative thoughts, your brain will stop bombarding your body with stress hormones and you can calm down enough to focus on what really matters.

Another benefit?

When you calm down, everyone calms down.

We always have a profound effect on the people around us, and with most of us spending way more time at home, this is especially true. If you’re easily frustrated teaching your child, it’s likely your child will become easily frustrated working on their schoolwork too.

If you don’t expect yourself to be great at teaching your child, then you (and your family) can relax, making this a much more calm and enjoyable time for all of you.

I’d love to know, how is teaching your child going for you right now?

Leave a comment letting me know so I can support you and cheer you on!

Also, if you know any parent who needs to hear this message right now, use any of the social buttons below to share it with them!

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