In the 5 months since COVID disrupted our lives, virtual learning has gone from something we were frantically trying to pull together to the new normal in our children’s education. However no matter how used to the situation parents and students are now, it does nothing to alleviate the stress and frustration virtual learning causes in the home. After all, most of us were not trained as teachers and didn’t plan on taking on a second profession. Not to mention jobs in areas such as Multifamily Housing that can’t afford for their employees to work from home.
Fortunately, there are some ways to make homeschooling a bit easier. Below we discuss 3 ways working parents are tackling virtual learning.
1. Schedule Your Work Calls during Their Most Engaged Time
Assuming you are working from home, you will have to take Zoom and phone calls that require your full attention for your job. Inevitably during this important time your child, or children, will need something from you and this simple scenario could reap a big amount of stress. One way to help avoid this common situation is to schedule your calls during their most engaging school time. Perhaps this is when they are doing an art project if they are younger, or when they are in a live-streamed virtual classroom if they are older. It may not be clear initially when they will be most engaged, however after a month of instruction you will begin to see patterns of when the best time to schedule your work calls are. While you are going through this learning phase, let your supervisor or clients know what is going on so they can support you with flexibility during this impermanent time.
2. Plan on Doing Weekend Work Time
This tip isnt going to be the most popular one with working parents, but desperate times call for desperate measures. Saturday and Sunday may become the only two days a week where you can schedule some undivided attention for your job because your child will not have to ask you for help with their classwork. You would be surprised what 1 or 2 hours of uninterrupted time can accomplish for you in terms of work done. This means that you may be able to knock out a lot of activities on the weekends so you can destress your Monday-Friday daily routine.
3. Engage Your Community with a “Learning Pod”
We decided to end on a high note, especially after tip #2. The “Learning Pod” may be the absolute best life hack for virtual learning, especially if you work in a field that does not enable you to work from home such as the Multifamily Housing Industry.
The learning pod concept can be molded to fit almost any age group of kids ranging from two to eighteen years old.
Essentially you connect with 2-5 of your children’s virtual classmates that live in your area and create a “pod”. You would coordinate with the parents of those students to host the pod on certain days of the week. For example, if you are able to link up 5 students together you would only have to host your child’s pod 1 day a week and they would be out of the house the other days of the week at the other parent’s homes. You would drive them to the home and pick them up just like if they were attending school in-person.
In addition to freeing the parents to work, these groups will help hold each other accountable for classwork given by the school, handing in homework assignments, and completing assessments, as well as possible additional help as needed (including enrichment through a book club, science experiments, executive functioning games, chess, etc.).
The group may hire an educator (ranging anywhere from roughly $10 – $50 per hour, per child) or work independently if the students are older.
Of course, any group meeting in person should exercise diligence and caution to limit exposure to infection, including at least daily temperature checks, 6-foot distancing wherever possible, mask wearing, and frequent hand washing and/or sanitizing.
While all of these tips are helpful in navigating the new educational system we are all facing there is one tip that reigns supreme, which is self-forgiveness and understanding. No one is expecting virtual learning to be held to the same standard as in-person class. When you feel yourself getting overwhelmed and stressed, or you see your child getting overwhelmed and stressed, make sure to stop and take a moment to forgive yourself for falling short and to congratulate yourself and your child for navigating a historic time in the world. Just by showing up for virtual learning and working from home you are already achieving something not many humans have had to accomplish.