For parents who are suddenly thrown into homeschooling (or remote learning), knowing how to support your kids with their distance learning while also being able to get your own work done can be baffling for those brand new to this. Use these tips to help!
The times, they are a-changing. When coronavirus hit, I think most people thought this whole thing wouldn’t last long – that we would be in quarantine for maybe a month (two at the most) and then get back to normal life.
Kids would be back at school….parents would be back at work…everything would be as it should be.
After 2 months of parents suddenly making the switch (literally almost overnight) to homeschooling their kids, families everywhere hoped that August would come around and have schools open as normal. I know I sure did.
However, that has certainly not been the case. The schools that are trying to open as normal are having to shut down almost as quickly due to COVID outbreaks.
Now more and more kids are learning from home in one way or another – all while their parents are trying to work and navigate a sudden new role of also being (at least part) teacher.
How to Juggle Homeschooling While Working At Home
Homeschooling – what was once seen as a slightly unusual choice for kids has now not only become much more common in the last few months (with homeschooling curriculums and supplies being on backorder!), but just one of several different styles of distance learning (aka remote learning or virtual learning).
Many parents have chosen to pull their kids from public schools and begin homeschooling. Also, most school districts are offering at least the option (if not a mandated policy) of remote learning at home.
Virtual learning is brand new for most teachers, students, and parents. Some families are making it work well, while others are struggling to get everything done.
After working hard to navigate these waters myself for the past few months (as well as struggling over the decision of whether to send my kids or the in-person option), here are 10 things I've learned that turned the corner from merely surviving to thriving – and get your work done too!
1. Get Up Early
It can be so tempting to sleep in when you’re doing everything from home. But if you can make yourself get up early, before everyone else, you can take advantage of some time to get yourself organized for the day or even get a few work things accomplished so you aren’t feeling behind as the day is just starting.
2. Create a Schedule
This doesn’t have to be some hard, set-in-stone thing. However, when things shut down, we completely abandoned our schedule and were flying by the seat of our pants and that just didn’t work at all.
Once I sat down and came up with a schedule, it helped tremendously because everyone knew what was coming next – and could then better focus on what was in front of them.
Grab My Must-Have Productivity Secrets for Ultra-Busy Moms!
3. Make The Schedule Work For You Too
Yes, it’s important to have a schedule to keep you on track, but if your schedule is solely focused on your kids and doesn’t build in time for you to work or make dinner, etc, it will never work for you.
Have you tried time-blocking? Essentially, time-blocking is a scheduling method where you break your day into blocks of time. Each block is dedicated to a task and there's a built-in brain break in between blocks.
It's a GREAT system for helping you stay focused and on task!
4. Create Designated Workspaces
Last spring we tried doing our distance learning work at the dining table which morphed into sitting on the couch or lying on the floor and it was a DISASTER.
When I took a little time to set up a dedicated workspace by moving tables and a desk around, remote learning started going MUCH better. The kids were able to focus more easily, the background and distracting noise was reduced, and everyone was happier.
5. Set Boundaries
Kids can have a tough time knowing not to treat being around their parents as a free for all. If you have phone calls you need to be on or even just need some time to focus on work, make that clear for your kids.
Set clear boundaries and communicate your expectations. This is another area where creating a schedule will make a huge difference. Set aside times where if your kids need you, they can check in with you and tell them when those times are.
6. Go Easy on Yourself (and Everyone Else)
Listen, nothing about this remote learning way of life is easy. Working with kids around is hard and distracting. Keeping up with the kids’ learning and assignments while also trying to tackle emails and phone calls and other work tasks is a juggling act to say the very least.
The best thing you can do is to remember that distance learning isn’t going to be perfect – and it doesn’t need to be perfect. Don’t expect to have all the answers. Don’t expect that you can teach or support your kids the way a teacher can. Let go of the expectation that the teachers know how to go from teaching in person to doing an equally amazing job teaching online.
Instead, know that everyone is trying their best as they work through something that has never happened before – and it's the same all around the world.
7. Take Brain Breaks
Exercise is essential for producing the protein in the brain necessary to store and transmit information. By exercise I’m talking about getting outside in nature, taking a walk, doing jumping jacks, riding a bike for a few minutes, blowing bubbles, kicking around a soccer ball, etc.
Related Post: 14 Games to Play When Bored (Beyond Belief) at Home
Anything to get the blood pumping a little bit and take a break from screens and concentration.
It will also make you and your kiddo feel better and be better able to focus! Need ideas? Grab these FREE Brain Break cards to have fun (and never fun out of ideas)!
8. Learn Life Skills When Homeschooling
Remote learning won’t keep your kids busy as long as a normal school day will. Learning goes way beyond books or assignments. Build life learning lessons into your schedule. Things like
- making food
- doing laundry
- cleaning tasks
- taking care of pets
- doing repairs around the house.
Doing these things will help the family accomplish more, build in brain breaks, and make your kiddos more well-rounded in life in general. Win-win!
9. Divide and Conquer
If you and your partner are both working from home, try taking shifts and splitting up the time overseeing kids so that you both have time to focus on your job. Maybe one of you takes the morning shift and the other takes the afternoon shift.
Or maybe it works better for your family to allow one partner to work all day and then take the evening shift while the other partner works (that's how we do it)
For anyone without a partner, I highly recommend the time-blocking schedule with built-in blocks of time to:
- Call or video call family and friends
- Read in their bedroom
- Watch some TV
- Do typing/coding practice
so that you can have time to focus on your own work tasks without worrying whether your kids are on task.
Grab My Must-Have Productivity Secrets for Ultra-Busy Moms!
10. Remember This Too Shall Pass
I know living through a pandemic and remote learning are hard on SO many levels, and probably something you (nor I) ever envisioned happening.
But it’s here and it’s important to ask yourself “how do you want to remember this time?” The priority is to keep life as normal as you can while also focusing on building a sense of continuity and connections with people even when we can’t always get together in person.
Instead of worrying about teaching your kids a ton of academic concepts right now, work on those some but focus on different ways of learning, connecting, and experiencing what’s around us.
That will take the pressure off while also developing a different rich learning experience.
More Helpful Learning Resources For Distance Learning
Here is a list of additional helpful resources that might be useful while you work on virtual learning from home:
- Audible Stories for free
- New York Public Library Ebooks-3,000 Free Resources
- Levar Burton Reads
- Story Corps
- TeenBook Blog
- Georgia O’Keeffe Museum
- Lunch Doodles with Mo Willems
- Virtual Musicals, Plays and Opera from London
- Draw Comics
- Teencraft site
- Periodic Table Digital Escape Room
- Punnett Square Digital Escape Room
- National Parks Virtual Tours
- Volcanic Eruption Video
- Explore the World’s Largest Cave
- Grand Canyon Virtual Tour
- The Highlands West Panama Virtual Tour
- Earth School Quest
- Earth Day Articles
- Middle School Life Science
- Middle School Physical Science
- Middle School Earth and Space Science
- San Diego Zoo Live Cams
- Monteray Bay Aquarium Live Cams
- National Aquarium Virtual
- National Geographic Safari Live
Social Studies Resources
- What everyone should know about Reconstruction 150 years after the 15th Amendment’s Ratification.
- Unheard Perspective in American History
- Empires of the Americas: The Aztecs
- Geography Connections
- The Constitution, Amendments 11-27
- How to Create a Time Capsule
- How to Create a Coat of Arms
- iCivics courses
Cool Virtual Tours
- Gettysburg 360 Virtual Tour
- Antietam Virtual Tour
- Fredericksburg Virtual Tour
- Chancellorsville Virtual Tour
- Major Battles and Engagements of the Civil War Google Tour
- Smithsonian Virtual Tour of the 5 Egyptian Heritage Sites
- NOVA Pyramid Exploration
- The Silk Road Crash Course
- PBS Economics for Kids and Teens
- Explore Ellis Island-Immigration
- Great Wall of China Virtual Video
- Virtual tour of the Vatican-Rome
- Explore the Taj Mahal
- Aztec Ruins Virtual Tour
- Tenochtitlan Virtual Tour
- Mayan Ruins Virtual Tour
- Explore the Mayan World-Google Arts and Culture
- Chichen Itza Virtual Tour-National Geographic
- Experience the Incan Trail: virtual tour
- Machu Picchu Virtual Tour
Final Thoughts On Working From Home While Your Kids Do Distance Learning
Life isn't “normal” right now, but with a few ideas and tweaks, you CAN making homeschooling (or remote learning) work well for your family – even while you're working from home!
Tell us in the comments below: what tips have you picked up that have helped you with distance learning?