Half a year into the pandemic, we’re still sheltering at home and socializing at home. Many of us are even working and learning from home. But now the fall semester is looming, and school districts across the country are debating whether or not to reopen for in-person classes. In the face of what appears to be a second surge, though, more than 80% of parents are worried about sending their kids back to school in the fall. And, because of that, a lot of parents are choosing to keep their kids at home, no matter what the districts decide.
Take a Moment to Breathe
There’s no doubt about it: we’re all suffering from quarantine fatigue. And, chances are, your kids are feeling as weary, frustrated, crabby, and just plain done as you are. The prospect of having to start up the new school year online probably feels like too much for either you or your kids to deal with right now. And that’s okay.
The first order of business is to take it easy on yourself and the kids. Give yourselves a break. You are, after all, trying to cope with the worst global pandemic in more than a century. If you and the kids weren’t both freaked out and fed up, that’d mean you were either not paying attention or living very different lives from the rest of the world.
So, take a breath. Give yourself and your kids permission to feel what you feel, and celebrate all you’ve made it through this spring and summer already. Above all, take a couple of days for a little at-home stay-cation with the family before you start planning in earnest for the new semester. Take a break away from work and social media. Set aside several consecutive days that are just for family fun.
Let the kids have Skype or Zoom playdates with friends and family. Have a family game night one night, a movie night the next. Pig out on everyone’s favorite foods. Decompress. Blow off steam. Enjoy one another. And then get to work.
Make a Plan
The best way to make the new online semester less stressful and more successful for both you and the kids is to get your house in order, literally and figuratively, before the term begins. That starts with setting a daily schedule that includes not only your children’s schooling but your work. Set up a plan for everyone to get up, eat, get dressed, and get to work for the day.
It also means planning for periods throughout the day when everyone works independently. Asking the kids to work on their own in half-hour and hour chunks will give you uninterrupted work time yourself. Let the kids write down their questions as they work independently so that you can work on them together during your collaborative study time. That’s going to help your children develop a sense of autonomy, self-sufficiency, and responsibility for their own learning.
Above all, it’s going to reduce everyone’s frustrations because you’re not going to be constantly bombarded by questions or pleas for help and they’re not going to go ballistic if answers don’t come immediately. Best of all, this will tacitly encourage them to work a little harder to figure things out on their own, and they’ll feel really proud of themselves when they do!
Once you have your schedule in place, it’s time to start thinking about work and study spaces. If you and your kids just decide to work wherever you happen to land, the kitchen table, the couch, the bed, you’re not going to be as productive as you need to be.
Having a dedicated workspace that’s free of clutter, well lit, and equipped with everything you and your kids might need to do your work will signal to your brain that when you’re in that space, it’s time to focus. It’s also going to signal to others that you’re working and not to be disturbed.
Take Advantage of Tech
When you’re working or learning from home, one of the most important keys to efficiency is to ensure you and your little scholars have the technology you need. There are tons of free and low-cost apps to help you as you telecommute.
For you, tools such as Asana and Slack can help you keep in real-time contact with your coworkers. That means you’re not going to be wasting time tracking down your colleagues to ask a question or get a status update. And when you’re trying not only to work from home but also to teach from home, anything that saves you time and frustration is worth a king’s ransom!
Technology isn’t just going to help with your telecommuting, though. It’s also going to enable you to up your homeschooling game. For instance, you could invest in a compact teleprojector for presenting lessons to your kids in a way that feels more like “real school.” Learning the alphabet or the times tables on a big screen is going to be a lot more fun than staring at a piece of paper, a musty book, or even a digital screen.
Not to say that there’s no room for the small screen in a homeschooling environment. In fact, from gamification to collaboration, with today’s technology, you have more resources than ever to make your kids’ education interactive, personalized, and fun.
As important as technology is going to be to your kids’ remote learning, though, there has to be a limit. Too much screen time can be harmful, especially to young children. So if your kids are spending the better part of their day studying online, it’s imperative to get your kids away from the screens and back with you and your family in the “real world” when the school day is done.
Infographic by Custom-Writing.Org
A summer unlike anything most of us have ever experienced is drawing to a close and the new school year is soon to arrive. The question for many parents across the US now, however, is how to face another semester of homeschooling the kids while also working from home. The good news is, it can be done. It just takes some planning, some preparation, and a whole lot of patience.