COVID-19 has shaken up daily life not just for us and our work, but for our children and their schooling as well. For many of us, working from home and simultaneously managing home education for our children means navigating uncharted territory. It can feel overwhelming trying to do it all, but these five ways to navigate work, parenting, and home education during COVID-19 will help you feel more in control of your situation and point everyone towards success.
1. Set Up Optimal Environments.
All of us, our children included, need a functional work/learning space. To decide if a space is functional, consider: Can I relax, focus, study, learn and accomplish in this space? You may consider creating a workspace for yourself that is separate from your child’s learning space. You’ll need to claim that space and help your children understand it’s your space and that when you’re in that space, you’re working. Ideally, you should set your workspace as far from your children’s space as possible to minimize distraction and interruption.
If you have more than one child learning at home while you are working from home, it may be beneficial you to allow your children’s learning spaces to be close together as they can often help and support one another. This creates a great lesson in leadership and cooperation for your children.
Think outside the box to create great functional spaces to suit each person’s unique needs. Your children will eventually find their favorite spaces, but you’ll want to verify those spaces are allowing your child to relax, focus, study, learn and accomplish. If not, they’ll need to change spaces.
Remember, you’ll find yourself and your children bouncing around a lot throughout the day and that’s a good thing! Movement is good for everyone. After all, your children do not sit for long periods of time in traditional school, so they shouldn’t at home, either.
2. Define Routines and Schedules.
One of the most difficult adjustments of the “new normal” may be a feeling of a loss of routine. Re-establishing a routine will help everyone stay grounded amid all the chaos. You can create a routine that loosely mimics your previous weekday routine (regular wake-up/bedtimes, regular mealtimes, similar subject order for learning) or you can create a new routine that works for the new at-home arrangement. Either way, be sure to work in plenty of breaks as they are essential to help maintain focus.
If you have younger children who require a bit more hands-on supervision, you might try the “Power Packed Schedule”. With this schedule, you would try to start your day one to two hours before you child’s day. Then, spend time managing their morning routine and early learning day until lunchtime. At this point, you can allow your children to have lunch and some break time, which you can use to get in another hour or two working from home. You’ll also want to enforce an earlier bedtime to allow yourself another couple of hours in the evening to get caught up with work. You can even consider condensing your child’s school week down into a four-day week to open up a “free day” if you have a particular workday that requires more consistent attention.
You should also develop a ‘Plan B’ for the unpredictable when you are not able to adhere to the standard school day. You could plan a themed day around a particular holiday, year, historical event, etc. and allow the kids to dress up, show a relevant movie, have a history lesson, learn about the dance styles of the era or even look at the economics and technology from that time. You could also try ‘Fun Flexible Fridays’ when you use technology such as sciencefun.org, explore.org/livecams, the Stack the States app, the travel channel, etc. for a fun change in learning.
3. Reduce Disruptions During Your Workday.
Some of your workdays will be busier than others and you’ll need to direct the bulk of your focus on the job even though you are working from home. It is especially important to reduce disruptions on these days. You have several options to help. Of course, use of the Power Packed Schedule will be ideal. You could also call a friend or family member through a video calling app and ask if they can help keep the kids occupied for a period of time. Try role playing to practice with the kids when and how to approach times when they need something while you are working. Another helpful tool is a timer/reward system. Let your children know if they can occupy themselves until the timer rings, they will get a special prize!
4. Move Beyond the Books – Teach What You Know.
Take time to teach your children about things that are important to you and that you know well. This can include many ideas outside of the standard academic curriculum. What skill sets do you have? What life skills can you teach? You can teach small home repairs, how to do laundry or cook, how to balance a bank account, gardening, changing a tire…the possibilities are numerous!
5. Stimulate with Great Conversation.
The current situation has given us the opportunity to have great conversations with family. Try a subject wheel with a topic in the middle and related topics around. Give everyone a turn to think of ways the main topic correlates with the related topics for a great lesson on perspective. Other fun ideas include ‘Glow and Grow’ – what was great about the day (glow) and what could have been better (grow) or ‘The Thorn, The Rose and The Turkey’ – what was your “thorn” (difficulty) in the day, what was your “rose” (highlight) of the day and what was your funny “turkey” of the day. This is also a great time to talk about your next family vacation and start the planning and researching together.
Remember, current events demand flexibility and when ‘Plan A’ doesn’t work, have a ‘Plan B’ ready. Using these five ways to navigate work, parenting, and home education during COVID-19 will keep you on target and give you many options for success.
Vice President of Training and Development
Edge2Learn / Ellis Partners in Management Solutions
Maria began her career in 1990 as a Leasing Professional. Her years of leasing and managing a variety of product types gave her a deep understanding of the industry. Maria spent most of her career with Lincoln Property Company holding positions such as New Construction Marketing Director, National Training and Marketing Director, and eventually Vice President of Training and Marketing. Her extensive research on and passion for generational differences and other topics that impact employee performance and customer experience has positioned her as an industry trainer who can truly relate to the day-to-day onsite issues employees face.
Edge2Learn is an eLearning company whose focus is the Property Management Industry and specializes in property management training and multifamily education. With over 30 years of experience and a commitment to increase industry excellence, we are passionate about engaging learners to maximize benefits for both companies and employees. Aligned with a well-respected industry leader, Ellis, Partners in Management Solutions, the Edge2Learn platform provides a turnkey solution for clearly identified needs and opportunities. We prepare learners to deliver a superior customer experience and also reduce corporate liability risks and overall employee turnover.