Homeschool 101 Series – Episode 6, 7

Homeschooling can be very stressful for parents, especially during this time, with all the added external pressures. It is paramount that parents focus on their own mental well-being.

How can parents manage their anxiety and fear, and shield their adoring young children from the pressures of the world?

In episode #6 of Homeschool 101, Child EQ Coach Susanna Nicol (Founder of EQ for kidz) offers her advice on how to cope with the emotional rollercoaster of homeschooling.

  1. With schools closed, parents/carers now have a huge role to play at home, building a healthy, happy learning environment for their children to thrive in. How do you think parents can make the most of this opportunity? 

    The key word here is OPPORTUNITY! Parents can shift their mindset to view this as a special time that they will remember forever. Even if it feels challenging right now, your kids will benefit in the long run from this precious extra time spent at home with their loved ones.

    My biggest suggestion is to take this opportunity to create new and fun memories as a family: learn a new skill together, invent new games to play, get messy, build a fort inside, spend time outdoors in nature, have a “yes” day, or simply follow your child’s lead!n (I have a free resource of quarantine activityideas I can send – if you’d like it, send me an email at: eqforkidz@gmail.com !)

  2. What steps can parents take when they’re feeling under pressure at home, yet can’t show it to their children?

    Under pressure, overwhelmed, anxious, frustrated, needing space? First of all, realize that all of your emotions are normal and valid. Take a few long, deep breaths to regulate your nervous system. Then, you can put one hand on your heart and tell yourself “I am a good parent. I am just having a tough moment.” or “I am feeling _____ right now.

    It’s okay to feel this way. I am safe.” and watch as the feeling changes.

    There is no need to hide your feelings from your children. In fact, by “modelling” aloud the coping tools that you use to calm yourself in the moment, you are helping your children learn how to self-regulate as well. You might find them taking a few deep breaths and using positive self-talk, too!

  3. When a child has an emotional meltdown, are there any ‘calming strategies’ you could recommend for parents?

    In moments of high emotions, a child’s thinking brain is taken over by their emotional brain. Keeping this fact in mind, remind yourself to “connect over correct”. In other words, seek to connect with your child’s underlying emotions, rather than correct their behaviour.

    Get on their level, show that you care how they feel, giving them words for how they might be feeling: “Wow, you must be feeling really angry to throw your toy like that.” Get curious, asking questions like “I wonder what happened before? I’m curious what’s going on for you? What do you need to feel better? How can I help?” Often, they just need to be heard, feel safe, and be soothed to regulate and return to calm. Once you have fully listened and validated their emotions, only then can you problem-solve together. This process is called “Emotion Coaching”.

    If you would like to learn more about the 5 steps to Emotion Coaching, feel free to reach out!

    • A regular gratitude practice
      • Journaling about your thoughts and feelings
      • 5-minute daily meditations
      • Daily feeling check-ins

        Are there any daily activities/routines you can recommend for parents to enjoy with their children at home, which promote mental well-being?

        We know time spent in nature or time spent exercising benefits our physical health, but it’s just as important to do things that benefit our mental health. Below are some examples. (eg. use a visual tool, like a mood meter, an emotional thermometer, or simple colours)(eg. every time you catch a negative thought, say 3 things you’re grateful for)

    • Write down and hang up positive affirmations (eg. I am loved and loving. I have enough, I do enough, I am enough.)
    • Write a letter or make a present to send to someone you miss.

K. Susanna Nicol
Child EQ Coach
Founder, EQ for kidz

 

The brain of a pre-school child is rapidly acquiring new knowledge every second, but they still can’t understand or control their feelings. They still feel overwhelmed by strong emotions like anger, sadness, fear, and anxiety.

In episode #7 of Homeschool 101, we discussed with K. Daisy (RIE Parenting and Educator) about how she incorporates the RIE method to raise her son. K Daisy shares her experience and explains how she approaches the emotions of an early years child.

  1. What is RIE Parenting?

    Pronounced “rye”, RIE Parenting derives from Magda Gerber’s Resources for Infant Educarers philosophy. It is based on respect, trust and acceptance of the child so that they can reach their full potential.

    This approach believes that parents/caretakers must have respect for the child and trust that they are natural inventors, explorers, and self learners as the main goal of RIE is to create an authentic child who feels secure, autonomous, competent and connected to the world around them. By respecting, believing and recognising that children are highly capable, encourage them to explore, and engage in their space creatively, and confidently, learning independently on their own and along with others.

    As parents/caretakers, we can encourage this through:

    — Respectful communication both verbally and nonverbally.
    — Safe, cognitively challenging and emotionally nurturing environment for independent, uninterrupted play and self-directed exploration at their own pace and interest.
    — Openly, accepting and acknowledging expression of emotions.
    — Setting clear and consistent boundaries without distracting, shaming, punishing or time outs.
    — Modeling and recognizing that they are learning from us every day. We have to be it to teach it.

  2. How do you help your child when they express strong emotions?

    First and foremost, we have to understand that releasing or expressing emotions is a healthy development. When our child has tantrums and meltdowns it means that they are developmentally on track.

    So ideally we want to welcome the emotions. Strong emotions are considered communication; therefore, all emotions are acceptable, and acknowledged, However, unsafe behavior is not acceptable and not allowed.

    It is imperative to lay the groundwork for emotional awareness and emotional intelligence in our children. These long term coping skills of expressing their needs and desires in a healthy and effective way will pay off over time.

    My method is to help my child identify and understand his feelings through acceptance, validation and acknowledgement. Whether that’s through a feelings poster, a colour chart or a sensory activity, or even during our nightly bedtime conversations about the day.

    For example, I will ask how he felt in a certain situation that day, or how he should handle these feelings for next time. We work on finding and using healthy coping mechanisms to problem solve and work through it together.

    I find that these open lines of communication between my son and I strengthens our bond and relationship even more. And through my modeling of my emotional ownership and accountability, I am showing him that his regulation, our co-regulation, as well as emotional growth takes time, practice, patience and empathy for one another.

     

  3. When tantrums occur, how do you handle your child’s emotional meltdown?

    I approach it by holding space, acting as a safe container to allow for all emotions, and expressions in a nonjudgmental way, with sincere understanding and acceptance. When a tantrum or meltdown occurs, I welcome it by reframing my mindset, stepping up my presence to fully support my child safely through it.

    I breathe, I slow down, I don’t try to fix it, I don’t rush through it. I know and understand that is not a reflection of my parenting. It is natural, it is healthy, it is part of the constructive process of self-regulation.

    I let the feelings be, yet helping to identify the emotions and sportscasting what I see. I believe that crying is the cure; therefore, I co-regulate with him and support him emotionally the best I can. It is not the time to teach, or to reason with him, it is the time to model compassion, appreciate him authentically and love him unconditionally.

    This quote by Janet Lansbury sums it up perfectly and beautifully:

    “One of the most ironically counterintuitive twists of parenting is this: the more we welcome our children’s displeasure, the happier everyone in our household will be, there is no greater gift to our children and ourselves than complete acceptance of their negative feelings.”

  4. How do you set up/manage time to balance INDEPENDENT PLAY, MOMMY TIME, LEARNING TIME, ETC.

    Honestly, it’s all about having a rhythm or routine, which makes children feel secure and safe because true happiness comes when children feel that the adults are calming and confidently leading and guiding them.

    Since RIE focuses deeply on strengthening relationships, building trust, and communicating unconditional love, the method is put in practice through consistency, awareness of the child and defined boundaries.

    For instance, to foster independent play, seeking connection first helps the child feel seen, which naturally invites cooperation instead of push-back. While the idea of self care or Mommy Time is normalized and rooted in our clear, consistent boundaries day to day. Children feel valued and truly loved, making it easier to accept our limits because boundaries are the highest form of love.

 

K. Daisy Soongswang
RIE Parenting and Educator
Bangkok, Thailand

 

Homeschool 101 gives you perspectives from parents and educators, from various walks of life, who are willing to share their experiences about homeschooling. We hope that these voices can give you comfort, community and perhaps some valuable homeschooling insights. There is no right or wrong way.

If you wish to contribute to this community of like-minded parents, please reach out to us – we would love to hear your voice.

Homeschool 101 Series – Episode 4, 5

We believe that the current generation of kids could save the world. As parents, it’s up to us to raise our children to be environmentally aware.

What role do parents have to play in this?

In episode #4 of Homeschool 101, we meet a passionate environmentalist, who is currently homeschooling his son.

  1. How do you approach sustainability in your parenting, and with your son?
    At home, we try to live our daily lives in the most sustainable way possible such as traveling by bicycle or public transport. We only use a private car if we really need it.

    We try hard to reduce various plastic waste that is difficult to decompose. We have our own bottle with us everywhere we go. We carry our own bags when we do shopping at the market, and we have our own lunch box with us.

    These are just examples, and may seem easy, but in reality – you need to be very disciplined. I believe that to teach a child be responsible, parents have to model disciplinary to their child first.

    We try to do outdoor activities in order to be closer to nature. Riding a bicycle, taking a paddle/boat on the Bang Pakong River. Trekking in small forests and national parks. Our home uses environmental media such as books, movies, documentaries. Exploring biodiversity. We take a boat to pick up trash on the weekend. We visit environmental exhibitions and environmental-related campaigns/rallies. We invite each other to discuss about environmental awareness by raising issues to make our son think and ask questions.

  2. As a homeschooling dad and environmentalist, how do you include/ design your lessons/ activities on the topic of the environment?
    I encourage the habits (mentioned above) every single day. That is part of my lesson plan. Now the global crisis situation creates more variance and violence in various forms. My son’s generation will be greatly affected.We talked with our son, 9 years old, about having a course that we helped each other design. We named it “ให้ได้แก่ตายเถอะ” (Hai-Dai-Kae-Tai-Ter). It is a Metaphor meaning let our children grow old, live and die in their own natural way – not as a result of the bad environment. “Hai-Dai-Kae-Tai-Ter” is a problem-based project that will help our son realise and truly understand the environmental crisis we are facing. We focus on the question: “How can you help manage problems in a better way?”.


    Our project is based on his interests.

    We help him to understand problems →
    We let him come up with a project and try it out →
    We track the result and discuss (if it doesn’t work out we try new ways).

    Talk to your children at a very young age. Don’t see them as a baby. They can learn so deeply about our earth. For young children, they can start with a simple project and then gradually develop/ change to more advance topics according to his age/interests/abilities.

  3. What role do you think our children can play in the future of our planet earth, and the environment?

    There is a saying that “children are the creators of the world. Let’s build the world through the creations of children.” The paradigms and ways of children in this era will define our world in the future. When the time is right, children grow up and are mature enough to analyse information about environmental issues.

    They will be thirsty for change, for example the climate change movement lead by Greta Thunberg, which has inspired millions around the world.

  4. What are the challenges of homeschooling for you, and how have you dealt with these obstacles?

    Although homeschooling allows us to design a much more ecological environment for our family’s living and learning, there are so many uncontrollable factors around us (both internal and external). These factors affect our children, especially the influence of close friends and relatives, even neighbours.

    How others buy food, eat fast food, buy toys with plastic packages, take plane trips, the choices they watch on TV, play games, etc.

    These factors will influence our children’s lifestyle and the person they become. Dealing with these environmental factors, we create a safe zone to speak and start to question. We never stop them doing what they want, instead we ask questions like “what will be the consequences of your action?”. This will help children to reflect upon their choices and decisions.

K. Gunn Tattiyakul – Homeschooling Parent
Environmentalist – Friends of Bangpakong
Chachoengsao, Thailand

 

Inspiring creativity is both exciting, and daunting for parents. Creativity doesn’t always come easy for us especially with older children, who demand more challenging activities.

In episode #5 of Homeschool 101, we talked to a passionate Creative Coach (MD of Inlight Consulting) and LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® Facilitator, K. Chompoonuch.

K. Chompoonuch shared some simple ways parents can get creative in their homeschooling journey.

  1. What is creative parenting to you?
    A creative parent allows themselves to explore new ways of doing things & understand that there are many ways to achieve one goal. A creative parent is flexible and adjustable to the situation. They give freedom to their child to grow without controlling, because they understand that there are many ways to be successful in life.Creativity, for me, is not only innovation, painting or fine art, it’s creating new, alternative ways to succeed in life. If parents can embrace being creative themselves, it will naturally rub off on their children.
  2. How can parents spark their child’s creative thinking at home?

    Creative powerful questions is one of the most impactful tools. When you ask the right type of questions, you will ignite the fire for learning in a child’s brain. I normally use creative thinking tools such as SCAMPER, what if?, or mind mapping together with questions. These are the techniques I teach to fire up the creative mind.

    Questions like :

    • What else can I do to solve this?
    • How can I make this better?
    • What could I use instead?
    • How can I change/adapt this to make it better?

      These questions are triggers, and they open a child’s mind to a new world of possibilities. Once you harvest the creative thinking patterns in your children, they will eventually become a creative-minded person. Another important point is: we should never dismiss a child’s question.

      For example:
      Kid : Why can’t we run around outside?
      Parent : Because if you do, the police will come and arrest you.

      My suggest is, parents should answer the question in a logical, creative and positive way. Don’t kill the child’s curiosity. Curiosity is the foundation of creativity.

  3. Are there any tools/ frameworks to help parents become more creative with their activities at home?

    Firstly, observe what your child likes to do or let them explore in open-ended activities. For example, playing with lego, playing musical instruments, singing, cooking and dedicate your time to be with them so that you can understand your child’s preferences. Then, support them on their choices.

    Secondly, create psychological safety for them. Embed the concept of “when I fail, I learn”. Whatever children do, focus on the process, not the outcome.

    Ask questions like

    • What have you learned from this?
    • What have you done well?
    • What could be improved next time?

    Lastly, encourage your child with creative powerful questions and use the tools I mentioned before.

     

     

  4. Every family probably has a giant pile of LEGO bricks in their house. Can we adapt it as a tool for homeschooling purposes?

    Lego is a powerful tool to unlock creativity and help unleash potential, for any age.
    The principle of Lego is hand-knowledge, which means when you build the bricks with your hands, it will stimulate your brain to create new shapes and forms. That’s where the creativity happens.

    Here are some suggestions :

    Have your child tell the story behind what they build. Let them play and facilitate their growth by asking these questions.

    • What is it?
    • What does this mean/represent?
    • Who are these people and what do they do?
    • What does this colour stand for?

    This metaphor technique (ideal for kids 4+), sparks creativity, removes boundaries and creates psychological safety for your child to think.

    Play challenge games with your children. For example “Let’s build a new future town. Let’s invent the future washing machine.” etc.

    Try to ask questions that allow them to think in the bigger picture. Encourage them to imagine far beyond the here and now. That’s how they exercise their imagination and creativity.


K. Chompoonuch
MD of Inlight Consulting, Creative Coach,
and LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® Facilitator

Homeschool 101 gives you perspectives from parents and educators, from various walks of life, who are willing to share their experiences about homeschooling. We hope that these voices can give you comfort, community and perhaps some valuable homeschooling insights. There is no right or wrong way.

If you wish to contribute to this community of like-minded parents, please reach out to us – we would love to hear your voice.

Homeschool 101 Series – Episode 1, 2, 3

In episode #1 Mommy @palmthirada opens up about her and her husband’s decision to homeschool their 3-year-old boy and 1-year-old girl.

  1. Why did you choose to homeschool your children?
    Actually, I’ve been discussing homeschooling with my husband for a while now. We decided that we don’t want our children to go to school or nursery. We feel that it’s too risky to allow our 2-3-year-old children under the care of others. Since making this decision, we have researched more about homeschooling. During early years, every single day is crucial. From observing our children, we realised that they need someone to guide them to solve problems. We believe that no one can do this better than their own parents.
  2. What has been your biggest struggle so far in homeschooling?
    My son is 3 years, 5 months and my daughter is 1 year, 8 months. The biggest struggle for me is when both of my children need my attention at the same time. I’m still learning how to manage one-on-one time with them. Even though they are siblings, they are different human beings. Alone time with mom is as important as the time they share together.
  3. How did you overcome the challenges of homeschooling your two children?

    The main challenge is outdoor play. We normally have 1-2 days during the week when we go out for a run or even try to visit a waterfall. Now with the current situation, everything must be adjusted to be inside a square room. What we have been doing instead is: we go for a drive and talk about places we see in the car. For now, it’s enough to make the children happy.

Mommy Palm – Homeschooling parent mom of 2 children
Chiangmai, Thailand

In episode #2 of Homeschool 101, Renika shares tips for online learning, preparing for goodbyes, and working with schools to give our children the resources they need at home.

Check out the ‘SPREAD YOUR WINGS – HOME LEARNING BOX‘ she designed.

  1. For pre-schoolers, what is the right amount of time for online learning?
    There is no one-size-fits-all with children and the most important thing is to observe and adapt. At Little Treehouse Nursery, we have seen that pre-recorded videos from teachers are more effective than live sessions. Live sessions should not exceed 40 minutes per session for all age groups, but 15-20 minutes would be plenty for early years’ learners, three times per week.
  2. How important is the parent/school relationship during this time?

    What parents have been expected to do during these lockdowns is an enormous feat! As a school administrator, I believe that schools can ease the burden by providing quality online learning programs, easy-to-find resources + easy-to-follow instructions, and reasonable payment plan options.

    Many parents have opted out of school during the lockdown, but we still touch base with them regularly. We should all try to maintain the bond (between home and school) so children will feel confident upon returning.

  3. For post-Lockdown, do you have tips for parents to support children returning to school?

    Depending on the size of your child’s school, it is likely that parents will have limited access on-campus upon reopening. Emotions will be heightened, and goodbyes can be harder than before. It is important for parents to be well-prepared for this moment. Speak to your child, with confidence and positivity and re-establish routines at least a week before the first day.

    Help your child visualize the drop-off routine with their key person and familiarise themselves with friends in their study bubble. Don’t forget that children are resilient! They will bounce back into happy learners right away!

Renika Phanichkrivalkosil
Co-Founder, Director of Little Treehouse Nursery
Bangkok, Thailand

K Geme is a mommy entrepreneur @petitepresuares , and has been homeschooling her two sons since the first COVID outbreak.

In episode #3 of Homeschool 101, she candidly shares her perspective and reflections of her journey so far.

  1. How did you arrive at the decision to homeschool your children?
    We always knew we wanted to homeschool, and that we don’t want our children growing up to be robots. The school system is not designed for every unique child. The values in most Thai schools do not meet values of the world that my sons are going to live in – teaching children to be global citizens, thinking critically and creatively, and being responsible to the earth.My older son used to be in school, until the second lockdown in Thailand. The situation seemed to be getting worse. So, I talked to my son about the idea of homeschooling. He told me that, although he will miss his friends, he would prefer to learn at home, with his parents and not wake up so early.
  2. How do you manage your time to homeschool two childrenwith different ages?
    I just follow their rhythm. For me, I just set up some fun activities for both of them to play together. When I want to focus on my older child’s literature, math, or deep information about the topic, I just teach him while my younger child is taking a nap.We also have a schedule of activities planned according to our rhythm. Most importantly, everything can change to adapt to our sons.
  3. How long have you been homeschooling and what are your reflections on this journey so far?

    We’ve been homeschooling since the first outbreak of Covid-19. We are happy with it so far. The good things about homeschooling are that we get to spend more time together, grow up together, and explore new things together. Homeschooling for me is not just how I educate my sons, but also how they teach me to be a better teacher and a better learner myself.

    This is going to be a long journey for our family. I don’t know when it’s going to end. If my sons wished to return to the system I would allow them.

K. Geme – Homeschooling Parents
Mommy Entrepreneur – Petite Pleasures
Bangkok, Thailand

Homeschool 101 gives you perspectives from parents and educators, from various walks of life, who are willing to share their experiences about homeschooling. We hope that these voices can give you comfort, community and perhaps some valuable homeschooling insights. There is no right or wrong way.

If you wish to contribute to this community of like-minded parents, please reach out to us – we would love to hear your voice.

Multi-Sensory Learning in Early Years

Our role as parents and educators is more critical than ever before. Science has taught us that our children, in their first five years, absorb information primarily through the senses. This information shapes how they perceive the world. They learn through their experiences, both good and bad.

We have also learned that our pre-school brains are highly sensitive and receptive. Our brain activity in pre-school years, and potential for growth, is the highest in our entire lives. As a result, the exposure to multi-sensory activities and experiences determines how fast the brain develops.

 

Brain Development in Early Years

 

BRAIN CONNECTIONS

New scientific research has made one thing crystal clear: pre-school children are capable of learning far more than we ever thought before. The neural connections inside a child’s brain, made in the first five years, will last a lifetime – shaping our memories and behaviour for years to come.

Children at the age of two years old are already laying the foundations for their brain power later in life. This is due to their brain’s “plasticity”, and the number of “synapses in their brains.

“By the age of two, a child’s brain contains twice as many synapses and consumes twice as much energy as the brain of a normal adult” (1997).

Synapses are the special link in the brain, which connect the all-important neurons, allowing the brain to grow. The plasticity of a young human brain means they can learn new concepts very quickly, and very easily. This window of rapid growth starts to close after the age of five years old.

The early years are a huge window of opportunity for US, the parents, to give a child’s brain the information it craves so much. How do we do this? BY EXPOSING OUR CHILDREN TO MULTI-SENSORY EXPERIENCES.

 

Sensory Activities at British Early Years Centre 
(where our daughter goes)

 

WHY SENSORY LEARNING?

Once more – CHILDREN LEARN THROUGH THEIR SENSES in their early years – simple as that. They absorb and retain information via their body and hands-on experience. The brain and the senses work together to create a meaningful world.

The seven senses are a child’s channel of discovery, and must be engaged in order for their brains to receive the information.

Our seven senses are: TOUCH, HEARING, SIGHT, TASTE, SMELL (which everyone knows) and also, which we weren’t taught in school! BALANCE, BODY AWARENESS

“For a small child, discussion and verbal learning have little educative power without actual experience. Learning rather happens through all the sensory channels. Children must live through, explore, and try things out to attach meaning to them” [Hendrick 1990:6].

As research has proven, the more senses engaged, the more connections made in the brain. Multi-sensory learning is the key to unlocking a child’s brain power.

 

HOW DOES IT WORK?

The brain receives information from the senses, processes it, and tells the body how to respond. The brain learns from sensory experience, and stores information. Then the senses, in particular SMELL, can act as a trigger for the brain, forming memories. Yes, through giving your child beautiful sensory experiences, they will form happy memories.

A smell, in particular, can bring positive memories flooding back for years to come. Maybe it’s the smell of perfume reminding you of someone you love, or a rose, which takes you back to your garden when you were young.

Multi-sensory experiences are, therefore, critical for how a child will behave later in their lives. Sensory play helps shape a child’s perception of the world, what they believe to be positive and safe in their brain.

What can we do with pre-school children to ensure their brains are engaged via the senses?

PLAY!

Sensory Playground at The Little Treehouse Nursery

 

The best way to develop and improve your child’s sensory development is through play. Through play, children learn what no one can teach them. For young children, play is the lifeblood of learning. [Hendrick 1990:6]

Children are meant to play, it’s in their nature. Play, in particular, role play, is their way of acting out the world around them. The world which their brains are soaking up like a sponge, in the form of TRILLIONS of neural connections being made. Here are some simple, sensory activities we recommend:

  • Play dough – this is a MUST for your kids. The possibilities are never-ending with play dough, and for the full MULTI SENSORY EXPERIENCE, get the naturally-scented playdough from Little Legend.
  • Scented Crayon – Little Legend have launched a product called the Sensory Crayon, so children can smell natural, therapeutic aromas while they draw, giving them a MULTI-SENSORY EXPERIENCE.