It’s Teacher Appreciation Week! Yay! A week where parents and students can express their appreciation for educators. Me, personally, I love Teacher Appreciation Week. One of my favorite things to do, is put together gift baskets, boxes, bags with a few cool, fun (and useful) items that I think someone will enjoy. Teacher Appreciation Week is no different. It’s so rewarding to gift our educators with tokens of gratitude because they work so hard throughout the school year. However, this year is a little different…
COVID-19 has caused both teachers and business professionals to be more innovative than ever. Parents have become in-home office managers, IT professionals, and impromptu instructors. This transition has been challenging, causing parents to re-learn, better yet, learn new material and practices. My husband and I, have experienced several “doh!” moments where we feel insecure about our own knowledge and understanding of certain subjects. I don’t think I’ve ever Googled so much in my life! However, I know we’re not the only ones dealing with a learning curve. We’re doing the best we can. As a small business owner and Mom who is (still) trying to navigate this new normal, here are a few of my tips for balancing work and parenting from home:
Create A Schedule: This is crucial. If you have a partner, be sure to consider their schedule as well. My husband and I try to sync schedules to ensure one of us is free to tend to our children while the other is tied up on a call or video meeting. Trust me, there have been times where we both have important meetings at the same time, and we make it work. However, we try to avoid it as much as possible. I don’t know about you, but my kids have so much to ask/tell me when I’m on a call, and it can’t possibly wait until I’m finished.
Communicate With Your Child’s Teachers: This is the time to be overly communicative. Be open and honest with your child’s teachers about their assignments. Let them know if you’re having trouble understanding the material, and don’t hesitate to ask for additional resources and guidance. I find it much easier to go to the source. Many times I’ve realized I’ve misinterpreted an assignment and made it a lot harder than it is. This will also help when you’re trying to review an assignment with your child. You can’t explain or provide direction for an assignment that you don’t understand.
Remain Calm, Don’t Get Frustrated: Easier said than done, right! Keep in mind; your child is probably just as frustrated and confused as you are. They, too, are annoyed at the expectation of promptly adjusting to this new learning experience. We are not qualified teachers. Take moments to speak to your child about what may be bothering them and let them know your honest feelings as well. Children must understand that they are not in this alone. During this time, communication is essential!
Be Consistent and Present: Consistency is key! The most important part of all of this is trying. If your child knows you are pushing and learning just as much as they are, they’ll want to work harder. Going back to my first tip, try to stay on schedule. My kids wake up, eat breakfast, enjoy a little free time to get their brain working, and then jump into their school work. They have small breaks throughout the day, but we try to stay on track. Over time, your child will fully comprehend your expectations and won’t become resentful of the circumstances. Although, they’ll still push here and there because they’re kids. That’s what kids do. You never know, they may begin to cherish these moments as you develop a closer relationship over learning.
Take a Physical/Mental Break: Taking a physical break is vital. Do a virtual exercise class, bake cookies, take a walk around your neighborhood while practicing social distancing, read a chapter in a book. Be sure to find a way to disconnect from technology for a moment. Let your eyes see, and your mind relax.
Use Alternative Resources: There are tons of free educational resources that have become available online. Use resources that are engaging for your child so they can become interested in learning the material. Make sure they’re having fun! Some of the recommended or provided learning materials from teachers can be, simply put, boring. However, educational resources such as Khan Academy, PBS, YouTube, and more are providing alternative learning avenues free of charge for your learning/educating convenience.
Partner With Other Parents: At this moment, other parents are your learning partners. They are your crutches. Build a community with other parents as they may be experiencing the same feelings as you.
Be Prepared: Be sure to schedule some time in the evening to prepare yourself for the next day’s materials. Have an outline of what you will be doing according to your schedule and have all tools necessary available. Be sure to have all sign-in information, papers printed, books ready, and apps updated, to make the learning experience is as seamless as possible. Also, be sure to have your space clean, organized, and prepared. I can’t work in a cluttered space. It makes my mind feel cluttered. Not sure if that makes sense, but that’s how I roll. Clear space, clear mind.
Have Fun: While there is no solace in knowing that stay at home orders have been extended, schools have closed for the remainder of the school year, your child’s prom, school dance/graduation have all been canceled. Just know there are other ways to enjoy these celebrations and educating moments daily. Children are obsessed with technology, so take some time and come out of your comfort zone by creating a Tik Tok video. Encourage your child to have a virtual dance with their friends. Create a song about a subject. Look at a movie that is reminiscent of the topic your child may be learning and apply critical thinking. Ask questions, get creative, and makeup games. Instead of funneling angry energy into sedentary work, find a way to fuel your energies into physical fun activities. This is a stressful time for all of us, kiddo’s included. Make the best of it.
Teach Home and Life Responsibilities: This is crucial. While you’re at home, teach how to live at home. Many children grow up not knowing family and general life responsibilities. This lack of knowledge is ultimately what creates class and social divides. Teach your kids how to wash dishes, put away laundry, use the vacuum cleaner. In my house we (supposedly) have the I cook, you clean rule. Problem is, I’m Type A personality. I can’t stand to see dishes piled in the sink, so I typically cook AND wash the dishes/load the dishwasher. Luckily, my youngest loves to help me cook and bake. My oldest, doesn’t mind unloading the dishwasher or putting away folded clothes. These small things are teaching them responsibility and before you know it, it will become a habit. They’ll start to do it without asking. Well, one can dream, right?
We’re all in this together. None of us have a sure-fire way to navigate this new normal. We’re learning every day, that’s all we can do. In the meantime, when the days seem long, and you’re completely overwhelmed and frustrated, know you’re not alone.
I encourage all parents to join the PTO at their school, and if there isn’t already an established organization, start one. These organizations are so impactful to the learning experience of not only your children but the entire school and community. If you need further assistance or additional tips, please feel free to send a message to firstname.lastname@example.org to connect and talk. Although I’m not a professional educator, we’re all partners in this crusade. Always remember to stay safe.