So none of us wanted this, we were thrust into this craziness that surrounds us. While it has turned our lives upside down, we can’t even begin to imagine how it has affected our children. I am actually lucky enough (if you can call it lucky) to have a job where I work from home unless I need to be out on a job site or meeting with clients. Of course the meeting with clients is pretty much non-existent for the time being and the job sites has slowed down a bit. However, I still touch base with clients and network the best I can from my phone and email all while trying to keep my two boys focused and helping them learn the best they can from home.
Don’t mistake what we are doing as home schooling. Most of us are not trained to be teachers, and we don’t home school our kids for a reason. This is CRISIS LEARNING, and make no mistake about it. So, being able to manage work while teaching your children (of different ages, grades, and needs) at the same time is a monumental task. It can be overwhelming, frustrating, and down right painstaking. So can you imagine the impact it’s having on your child? Now add to it that one of your children has AHDH and Anxiety disorder.
My kids are amazing, they are both smart, both loving, both energetic, and both make me pull my hair out on a daily basis. I try my best to be patient with them, and put my self in their shoes trying to understand their frustrations as well. While our world has been turned upside down, we as an adult can at least comprehend what is going on around us. However, our children can’t. They may understand some, but they really can’t grasp the big picture of what is happening now and what the future may look like.
In order to balance both work and distance-learning here are some strategies that I have found to be successful.
Get a Head Start
In a previous life my career consisted of me getting up before the roosters and heading into work. After 30+ years of that my body has become accustomed to waking early, no matter what time I go to bed. I am usually up between 5-5:30 a.m. starting my day. While I am enjoying my first cup of coffee and listening the the news I am mapping out my day and even sending out work emails. I am able to get in about an hour and a half of work before the daily school schedules are posted online. Once they are posted I go in, look them over and print out anything that needs to be printed. I then jot down how we are going to move through today’s lessons.
Set a Schedule
Just like when in the classroom the teachers have schedules for what activities they are doing. I do the same thing. Now granted the schedules aren’t set in stone but they should be a guideline and you should try your best to stay on course or as close to it as possible. I still wake them up at the same time they would if they were going to the classroom. They get up, eat breakfast, get dressed, and brush their teeth just as they would normally. I do give them a pajama day at least once every two weeks, usually on Friday’s. Schoolwork starts between 8:30 a.m. and 8:45 a.m each morning and they go for 45 minute to an hour in the first session. After that first session, I make them go outside and play for at least 15 minutes. They fight me as they would rather watch the tablet, but I still make them go outside for a little while. Once they come back in we start another session. We usually do this rinse and repeat 2-3 times daily.
Keep in mind that while your child may be at school from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. (or what ever time) they are not doing school work that entire time. They are completing about 2-3 hours of actual schoolwork daily in elementary school, 3-4 hours in middle school, and 4-5 hours in high school. My two are in elementary school and there is one teacher and one aide to help with 20 or so students. Mine get one on one help all the time. Our goal is to try and have classwork completed by 1 p.m. Most days we beat that, but there are others days that are the tough ones that we have to go to an alternative route, but we still get it completed.
Give Them Choices
When we are in our sessions, I usually let them decide what subject they want to work on. One may choose math while the other chooses reading. I feel like this gives them a sense of power on how they want to structure their day. I know it’s not much, but I am looking for anything that can help ease their frustrations. Some days are better than others and they can just blow right through their work for the day. However, there are those days that I must nudge them through everything. Those are the tough days, but we still manage through it.
As I mentioned earlier I try to get up daily and get some work in before we start class lessons. I am lucky enough my job doesn’t have a set schedule, but I know that many of you working from home have to work a set schedule. If your schedule isn’t a set one, that’s great. I would recommend getting as much of the school done as possible early. This will give you the afternoon to concentrate on work. However, if you have to work during a set period of time, look at your schedule and see where you can fit a lesson or two in during that time.
You are not going to be as productive when you are also trying to make sure the kids are learning. Get your mind set to that now. Our kids will always come first and this is an unprecedented time we are living. Most companies are being flexible, so determine what your optimal working hours will be. Discuss with your boss options of how you can best get your work completed and be there for your children as well. More times than not they will be receptive to non-conventional work hours.
A Screen Can Be Your Friend
I know, I get it. We all swore we wouldn’t let the TV be a babysitter, I did too. But again, this is an unprecedented time we are living in right now. There are going to come times during your work day that you MUST get something completed and it’s during your normal schooling hours. Don’t feel like you are caving in, but let the screen be your friend. It’s not making you less of a parent, but allowing you to provide for your children, which is what we are all trying to do.
In these times let them find something on Netflix that will keep them occupied for an hour. My kids love science information. I’ll find shows on NAT GEO or even find videos on YouTube they can watch. They are actually learning from them while I am working. I’m killing two birds with one stone. They are occupied and learning while I am getting critical work completed. This was tough for me at first, but I realized this is something out of necessity and if used correctly can be a good thing.
The walls are closing in and that can be a danger. Here in Florida it’s been gorgeous outside. Although at times my kids fight it, get them outside. Make them play, make them be kids. Bring your laptop outside and work while they are playing. The sunshine is a great healer both mentally and physically. They recently opened our neighborhood pool back up, with limited access and you have to sign up for hours slots. I get them in the pool daily. It’s a great hour break and gives us all a much need dose of water and sun.
We Will Get Through This Together
Understand that you are all in the same situation. All of our world’s have been turned upside down. Understand your children are just as frustrated if not more so than you. They can’t truly comprehend what is going on. Be patient, I know first hand that can be EXTREMELY tough at times, but in the end it will be worth it. If you take nothing else from these ramblings please take this. Talk to your kids, try to understand them and know where their thoughts are. This will help ease much of the frustrations and help knock down the barriers that will help you succeed working from home and being a good distance-learning teacher.