“I know firsthand how difficult it has been helping my daughter with her work and also trying to work from home,” said After-School and Summer Arts Camp Director, Omar Amores. “Adjusting to remote learning has been a tough transition for many of us as parents as well as for our children.” Here are some tips for making it easier for everyone at home:
1. Get Homework Help From a Trusted Resource
Omar says, “As a dad, I thought it would be great if my daughter had someone she knew, other than her parents, that’s readily available to help her through her work and provide reassurance that she will not fall behind in school because of this crisis,” Omar said. “So, we came up with the idea of offering virtual Homework Help with the teachers from our program.”
Greenwich House After-School is offering assistance with any school-related questions that your children may have via Zoom, and you don’t already have to be a part of the program. “You will have unlimited access to help for two windows between 10:00 a.m. -12:00 p.m. and 2:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m. on Monday through Friday. All you have to do is shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and we can set up the Zoom with a teacher right away.”
2. You don’t need to replicate a typical school day.
Keep in mind that the routine and environment inside a school is built around managing a lot of children at one time. Sticking to that same structure likely won’t be necessary when you’re only concerned about your own kid(s). Take the opportunity to create a learning environment that’s ideal for your child’s particular needs, and don’t worry if that ends up not looking anything like a standard school day.
3. Maintain a schedule, and include breaks.
Even if you’re working with a unique environment, it’s still important to have structure that your kids can rely on. Create a schedule that extends beyond the school day, and remember to include breaks. “Include a Recess after lunch where they’re encouraged to ride their bike, walk the dog, have a dance party or whatever activities they enjoy to get them moving,” says Omar. “It’s important that they recharge and expend some energy so they can focus when it’s time to concentrate on schooling.”
Ask for their input on creating the schedule so they take ownership over their responsibilities. You may want to give them some more agency by breaking the day up into a few time slots that each have a few options for school, chores, other duties and play, and they can choose which task they’ll do for each slot. As long as they complete all of the important tasks by the end of the day, they’ll benefit from practicing how to plan their days.
4. Use devices for good.
Limiting screen time is necessary for avoiding distraction but there are also a lot of tools and apps at our disposal for helping to keep your kids focused and organized, just like in your own life. Common Sense Media suggests 17 apps that can help you manage remote learning and there are a ton of digital resources for supplemental materials. The New York Times Learning Network, PBS Learning Media and TedED are just a few places to start. Plus, devices are the key for helping your kids keep up a social life. Schedule video play dates with friends and game nights with family so they’ll stay connected.
5. Set boundaries to help you balance working from home.
If your child isn’t used to you working at home, it might be difficult to adjust to understanding that you can’t be as accessible as you might be on the weekends, especially if they’re younger. Find rules that work for you on how to express those boundaries to your kids. If you’re in a home with two caregivers, you might want to split the day into two “shifts” where one person serves as the go-to adult for questions about school, help with fixing a snack or entertainment in the morning and the other takes over in the afternoon. If you’re the only caregiver, the rule might be that if the door is closed or if you’ve put a certain vase on the table where you’re working that means you can’t be interrupted unless it’s an urgent need. Ask a family member or friend if they also wouldn’t mind being on-call during a certain time of day where your kids can reach them on the phone with quick questions.