You may never have imagined that your child would ever be learning from home. Or that you would be working remotely and helping said child learn at home at the same time — but here we are!
When the pandemic descended on the world in 2020, school doors shut and millions of parents who had never even thought about homeschooling suddenly found themselves with a child at home who needed to learn.
Let’s be real. For a lot of the past year, we’ve been operating in survival mode. From the initial fear as the pandemic spread to the many levels of social isolation burnout, we’ve all experienced, this was a HARD year. But we did what we always do, and we got through it. We figured it out. And now that we’re coming out the other side (fingers (and toes) crossed) we need to find a way to move past the figuring it out stage and settle into this “new normal” everyone is talking about.
As a working parent, you already know that balancing work and teaching (and everything else) can be challenging – to say the least. But if you’re a working parent who is suddenly also responsible for your child’s education, don’t panic! It IS possible to find balance and sanity amidst the complex new world of remote work plus home or distance learning.
Here are a few tips to help you find balance and sanity while both working and teaching from home:
- First off – Breath: It may be the new normal but working from home while also teaching your child or helping your child learn at home…it’s not easy. Remember to practice your own calming techniques, whether that’s yoga, meditation, deep breathing or a simple walk outside. Any stress you feel, your child will feel, so remember to breathe. You’re doing your best, and you can do this!
- Remember that learning doesn’t only happen on worksheets: Anything can be a learning opportunity: cooking and baking, doing laundry, washing the dishes, watching (certain) YouTube videos, playing outside, going for a nature walk, building with Lego, and more. Even a casual conversation can be educational. Be open to having conversations with your child as you simply live and play, and you’ll be surprised how much learning can happen off the page or computer.
- A lot of learning can happen in just 1 or 2 hours: Your child doesn’t need to be “learning” from 8:30-2 pm. There is nothing about that schedule that inherently fosters education. Learning at home is not the same as learning within a classroom or school environment, so you can tailor the schedule to what works for you and your kid. Make sure to create designated focus time but aside from that, don’t feel pressured to stick to the school’s schedule.
- Screen time does not equal failure: If you’re a working parent and teaching your child at home, it’s easy to feel guilty about allowing your child to spend maybe a bit more time than usual watching a TV show or playing games. We’re here to tell you: it’s okay. If you want, you can even look for ways to learn about what they are watching by having them write about it in a journal or get them to practice resilience by playing tough games and working through challenges!
- Create a dedicated space for work and learning: Even if you have a small living space, it’s possible to create a dedicated space for work or school. Something as simple as lighting a candle or listening to specific music while learning or working can help create a signal for the brain that it’s now time to work. Other ideas include bringing out a dedicated tablecloth, placemat or chair for work time. Creating a dedicated setup or space for work and learning can also help you to more easily disconnect when it’s time to stop.
- Take Real Breaks: It’s very easy to work too much when you are working from home. Without that daily commute to help you unwind or provide needed separation between your job and home life, it can be challenging to create space – but it’s so important! If you regularly work overtime, check emails after hours, or allow too much work into your home life, the only result will be burnout. This goes for your home learner too. It’s important to allow space to relax so you don’t feel ON all the time. To help you turn off and relax, try to put the work laptop away, turn off notifications, move schoolbooks and notebooks out of sight. You can look at them tomorrow!
- Don’t be afraid to accept support: If you’re not a teacher, it can be stressful figuring out how to teach your child and what to teach! Don’t be afraid to get help. There are numerous home learning groups and communities online full of parents who can share advice (or commiseration) with you. Most things are easier to do with community support, or even just someone to vent to! Chalkboard is here to help too. Our easy-to-use, engaging Canadian curriculum resources make meeting curriculum requirements easy. Keep reading for a chance to get FREE lesson plans by email!
Let’s be honest, there will be days that are challenging, and days when you will feel like giving up. But there will also be days where you will help your child learn something new, celebrate their successes, and experience their growth in a way you never could have when they were in school and you were at work. With both of you at home, you have an opportunity for a new kind of connection with your child’s growth, and they have an opportunity to see you work, balance, and ultimately learn to manage stresses and shift your priorities when necessary.
Take a moment to breathe and remember that you are capable. Notice the small wonderful “aha moments” because over time they will become big, beautiful learning leaps and you will get to be part of it!
The amazing thing is that when you teach, both of you will learn… together.
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