Tips for Balancing Distance Learning with Working From Home
Without a doubt, 2020 has been a year of change. Nearly every aspect of our daily lives have changed is ways both large and small due to COVID-19. Many of us had never heard of Zoom a year ago. And it was virtually impossible to buy a cloth mask at the corner store. Finally, most of us dreamed of being able to work from home…until we HAD to do it.
Now nearly 9 months into the global pandemic, we’re having to deal with one of the most challenging changes to our daily lives: BACK TO SCHOOL – the prospect of our children experiencing distance learning from home, perhaps for the entire school year.
From kindergarten to post-graduate, we’re realizing that distance learning simply is not the same as in-person, classroom instruction. But thanks to technology, a bit of planning and some common sense, you can make the best of a less than ideal situation.
Thankfully, the keys to success for learning from home are nearly identical to those for working from home!
Establish Structure and Routine
We all need structure and a routine. Avoid getting side-tracked by everything in your home that normally would grab your attention when you’re not at work or the kids aren’t at school. Finally, you have a good excuse to skip those household chores for a bit. And make sure the TV stays OFF.
And since you’re having to balance work with your children’s school, you and your significant other may need to coordinate who is in-charge of the children and when. The key to this working is the flexibility and willingness to change on short notice.
Kids need structure and establishing a routine can give it to them and help you manage the day for both you and your children. A major benefit of establishing routines is that you will cut down on stress for yourself. Seeing you less stressed can help reduce anxiety in the children and help them focus on their own tasks. It is often challenging to get our children to actively and fully engage with distance learning, but if they see you diligently and successfully working from home they are more likely to follow your lead.
Time management is a major component of developing a successful routine.
Start the day each morning at the same time (note: I’ve found I can do much of my work during odd hours, like an hour or two before the kids wake up in the morning or a couple of hours after the kids go to bed.)
Consider the following times that may need scheduling:
- Waking up
- Recess / Play time
- Nap time for the young
- Establish when kids can interrupt you
- Schedule personal break-time for yourself
- Schedule break-time for you to spend time with the kids
- Time to return phone calls and emails
- Establish set office and classroom hours
You’ve likely already set up a designated “office” space in your home – even if you do not have what would traditionally be called a home office. Do the same for your children with a designated “classroom” in your home, complete with everything they will need when they are “in class”.
Make it clear to everyone in your family that when you are in your “office” or your children are in their “class”, interruptions should be minimized. When it’s time to work, get to work. But when it’s time for a break, make the most of it.
Take a Deep Breath and Remain Patient
If you think all of these changes and challenges are frustrating and stressful for you, just imagine how tough it can be on your children who may not fully comprehend everything that is going on in the world. Structure and routine are critical, but if things are quickly getting away from you due take a break and let off some steam. Get creative and have some fun.
At the end of the day, it is truly a gift that we get to spend so much more time with our families despite everything else. Savor the time. Things will get back to normal eventually and we can go back to complaining about having to spend late nights at the office and missing the school play.