Working from home comes with its own set of challenges; adding school into the mix means some handy tips and tricks are in order to help you make the most of your time. Using a little creativity and simple strategies can help make the work-school arrangement easier on everyone.
One of the hidden benefits of working from home and schooling your kids from home is that you aren’t usually restricted to a specific schedule for schoolwork. That means you can maximize the times when your kids are most alert and ready to learn. For some kids, this may be first thing in the morning, while others have their peak midday. Give them more challenging tasks and assignments when they are at their best, and save the easier ones for other times. Being in a routine also means making sure they are doing the simple things, like not staying in their pajamas. Even if they don’t have to wear a school uniform, being in regular clothes will help them be mentally ready. Items like cute tees and kids’ leggings make good options for home learning.
Suddenly working and helping your kids with schoolwork from home means that you may need to adjust your current setup. Even if you already had a home office, it may not necessarily be conducive to accommodating both learning and work. Get items that make the space both fun and functional for parents and kids. This might mean getting some colorful clipboards or lap desks for kids to do assignments on, getting comfy office chairs (or using alternative seating like beanbags or exercise balls from time to time), and designating areas of the home for work, school, and play. Let kids decorate or add special touches to their areas to create a fun mood, too. Things like a personalized throw blanket or fun floral throw pillows will make it feel brighter.
Not having the right materials at the ready makes it harder to get work done, so make sure you and your child have everything necessary to complete lessons. Along with essentials like a functional laptop and tablet, items like pencils and sharpeners, lined paper, calculators, art supplies, pens, highlighters, sharpies, Post-it notes, legal pads or notebooks, and folders should be organized and ready to use. Use cute canvas storage bins or pretty seagrass baskets to keep items neat and tidy.
With time at a premium, it can be helpful for working parents to take care of interrupted quiet time before the school day begins. Set the alarm a little earlier and use the time before the kids get up to work on important projects or tasks that need your undivided attention. Even though kids may ask to stay up late without having to worry about catching the bus in the morning, keep them on a regular bedtime schedule. You can use that time to catch up on end-of-the-day tasks like emails or make notes of items to take care of the next day.
There are lots of online tools and resources (many of them free) that you can utilize to help keep lessons and work tasks running smoothly. Time trackers can help you monitor how long your child spends on a certain subject, and project and idea boards can help you keep work tasks streamlined. Use free educational videos to supplement learning and give you a break from teaching. Look for educational games at your child’s learning level to help them complete independent tasks when you need to make phone calls or attend virtual meetings.
Help kids learn to take responsibility and encourage them to get their assignments done in a timely manner by setting up a simple reward system. Use stars or stickers on a chart for younger kids; older kids can check off or write down completed tasks for your approval. At the end of each week, give kids a reward for completing their charts, such as watching a movie they want to stream or having a special dessert after dinner.
While technology is essential for virtual learning and working, it’s also good to keep things balanced. Make certain times throughout the day “tech-free” periods where everyone takes a break from screens — no phones, tablets, or computers. This can help kids and parents alike get back at it with a renewed mind and fresh eyes.
Working and overseeing kids’ schoolwork puts a lot on your plate, so it’s important to take time to take care of yourself mentally and physically as well. Make time throughout the workday to recharge. Consider taking a virtual yoga class, or listen to your favorite music in a quiet place during lunch. Take a break every few hours to walk around the neighborhood or take a cup of tea out on the deck or patio to rejuvenate your spirit. Taking time for those small moments will go a long way in helping you manage your responsibilities.
Being able to work and help kids continue to do schooling from home can be successful. With a positive attitude and some helpful tips and tricks, you can make each day productive and less stressful.