For many of us, working from home poses a bunch of new challenges. From setting up a comfortable and ergonomically sound workspace to using new tools to stay in touch with colleagues and clients, working from home isn’t as easy as it sounds. But throw in the challenge of home-schooling children and things get very challenging. My household is having to make the adjustment with two adults and two primary schools students working from home. We’re still getting the hang of things just a few days in but there are a few things we’ve done that are making things a little easier.
Create a dedicated space
Just as it’s important for you to have a workspace, the same applies to your kids while they’re doing school from home.
If your kids have a desk in their room that’s pretty easy but many don’t. However, there are alternatives.
We have a trestle table we use when we have parties so we put that in our lounge room, grabbed some old magazine holders for school books and set up a powerboard. As they use iPads for school, we had to dig out a couple of chargers and cables but they now have a place where they can work, keep their devices charged and focus on school work.
Have a schedule and be creative
As much as possible, we are trying to replicate the kids’ school schedule. That includes start times, fruit breaks, playtime and other activities.
Create a schedule for each day that covers the learning they’d usually do. For example, today we have some reading time in the morning and writing time after that – they’re working on scripts for a play they want to perform with the family as the actors.
Next is sport. So they’re doing a 7-minute workout, playing some down-ball and shooting some hoops in the backyard.
Maths and Inquiry follow. For Inquiry, they’re watching a documentary each from Netflix, Disney+ or YouTube on a topic of interest and they get to discuss that later with us and write about it.
We’re also not calling it school. Just for laughs – we’re calling it “Pyjama School” – so every day is comfortable dress day.
Designate a “teacher”
With two of us working from home, there’s a need to balance things a little. Today, I’ve moved my workspace from my home office to a table that’s a little closer to the kids so they can easily ask me for help. It also means I can help mediate any disputes or arguments.
But we work out who’s the teacher based on workload, conference calls and online meetings and other commitments.
Everyone in the household needs to be patient. It’s a strange situation for everyone and you and your kids will all handle it differently.
When in confined quarters, it’s important to take a breath before reacting to blow-ups of arguments.
Allow for alone time
Kids have plenty of opportunity to work solo at school. If there’s reading time in the schedule, let them do that outside if the weather permits or in their rooms.
We have a few bean bags so we let them take them to the cubby house at the back, to their rooms or anywhere else in the house where they’re comfortable. We also let them wear headphones and listen to music while working so they can more easily ignore ambient noise and other potential distractions.