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PBIS at Home

This is a crazy time with updates from school, posts of learning ideas for home, with days organized and planned to the second. But you have permission to be a parent, and not a teacher.
Your children may be more nervous and anxious about these changing times than they show. Chances are they are more nervous than you because they are too young to have any control over any of the things happening around them. Our kids not only can hear everything that is going on around them, but they feel our constant tension and anxiety. Although the idea of being off of school for 4 weeks sounds awesome, they are probably picturing a fun time like summer break, not the reality of being trapped at home and not seeing their friends.
Over the coming weeks, you will see an increase in behavior issues with your kids. Whether it’s anxiety, or anger, or protest that they can’t do things normally - it will happen. You’ll see more meltdowns, tantrums, and oppositional behavior in the coming weeks. This is normal and expected under these circumstances. Try to be patient!
What kids need right now is to feel comforted and loved. To feel like it’s all going to be ok. And that might mean that you relax your schedule and love on your kids a bit more. Play outside and go on walks. Bake cookies and paint pictures. Play board games. Chances are there is math in that game. Do a science experiment together or find virtual field trips of the zoo. Start a book and read together as a family. Watch a funny TV show together. Chances are your family will have a more authentic conversation about the characters in the comedy than some scripted test question. Make something together. Your kitchen is the best makerspace of them all. Follow a recipe, or don’t. Either way you’ll be creating something new together and it will be great, or it won’t. That is the best kind of learning. Or, just snuggle under warm blankets and do nothing.
Yes, school is important. Also, this gift of time with your children is important. The way that you handle this time will be etched in your children’s memory and hearts. Take this gift of time to be a parent, and take this permission to not be a teacher.  When we look back decades from now, will our children remember the color coded schedule spreadsheets and fighting as teacher/student? Or will they remember this time as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to spend special time with a parent?
Some tips for making learning at home a pleasant experience:
  • Make their learning environment in a room away from distractions such as television.
  • Take learning in small bits of information. Most kids need a gear change after 7-10 minutes.
  • A clear schedule with breaks and free time included. First we do this, then we can do this.
  • Use a point system for breaks, stickers or whatever motivates your children.
  • Teach them hands-on things like cooking, baking, gardening, crafts to break the monotony.
  •  Provide Brain breaks
  • Start schoolwork in the morning when kids are sharp. Set small goals (complete 2 assignments, take a break.)
  • When the student isn’t “into it” anymore, rather than argue, create a distraction like: take a walk around the block, walk the dog, etc.
  • Have your kids shower, eat breakfast, and get dressed into clothes, not pajamas!
  • Be flexible. Recess can be longer than 20 minutes!! Enjoy your time together.



What daily routines need improvement in your home? Are you struggling getting everyone ready for school on time? Is homework a nightmare? Do you have clearly defined expectations for use of electronics? Step number one in creating a positive home environment is to have well defined routines with 3-5 clearly defined behavior expectations for each of the routines. 


The first step in teaching behavior expectations is to model the behavior. Give your children clear directions, one step at a time. Show children what the expectation looks like and what it does not look like and then give positive feedback.


Practicing the behavior will improve confidence. Reteach and review the behavior expectation often.


Make sure you are acknowledging and reinforcing the behaviors immediately and often, especially at first. Recognize effort and be specific about the behavior. Try to stay away from "Good Boy!" or "Good Job." Instead say specifically what the behavior was that you liked. "You did a great job cleaning your room and putting everything in its place!" 


If your child forgets to use the positive behavior that you are expecting, you should interrupt the undesired behavior and remind them to return to the expected behavior. If you are having to redirect a lot, then you need to review, practice and increase your reinforcement for a while. 


If behavior errors continue even after redirecting and re-teaching, you will need to have consistent consequences that are age appropriate. Make sure your child knows that it is the behavior you disapprove of and avoid saying things like, "You are a bad girl!" Appropriate alternatives to spanking.


If you want a behavior teach it.

If you like the behavior recognize it.
Teach the new behavior rather than reacting to the unwanted behavior.
Patience is important when teaching a new behavior.