Virtual learning: Five tips for working parents

Working, parenting and teaching

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As a parent, you’ve always tried to stay engaged with your child’s education and school life. You ask how his or her day went. You help with homework. You keep an eye on your child’s grades.  

What may be new to you, however, is the level of engagement required to keep your child’s education on track during the COVID-19 pandemic, which seems to come with extra responsibility if your child is participating in virtual learning.  

Every parent’s situation is different, and how you manage your child’s online education while still getting all your own work can vary.  

Here are a few tips that may help: 

Keep a structured routine 

Your child is used to having a routine when it comes to school. Even though it may seem like virtual learning lends to adding some flexibility, a set schedule and structure will help your child and yourself on track.  

When planning your day, schedule designated times for: 

  • Waking up and eating breakfast 
  • Logging in 
  • Breaking for lunch 
  • Working on offline work 
  • Resting, relaxing or playtime 
  • Completing homework 
  • Family time check in  

Make sure your child knows the routine and what is expected. Depending on their age, write it down or use photo images as visual cues. 

Preparation is key, but interruptions will happen 

When it comes to you and your children being home all day, interruptions are bound to happen. Your child might need help or they might fall off task. 

It’s OK to be frustrated by interruption but try to limit showing your frustrations. You may need to find that taking long, deep breaths will help you shift your mindset to be able to help your child. 

Leverage your support system, if you can 

If you’re parenting in a two-parent house and you’re both working, it might be helpful to divvy up either the workday or days of the week. For some that may look like who is “on call” to help kids in the morning and your partner takes over at lunch. Or it could be that one person is responsible for certain days of the week and the other for the other days.  

If you live in a multi-generational house or have an older family member who is willing to help, let them. Their help could assist with virtual learning, making snacks or lunch or helping with household chores so that’s one less thing you have to do.  

Be upfront with your manager 

Many people are facing similar challenges even though we are months into the pandemic. Explain the challenges and discuss a plan of action in managing your workload in addition to the responsibilities many parents are facing with virtual learning.  

Every parent’s situation will be different, so don’t assume your boss knows and understands your specific situation. Being upfront about your concerns and maintaining an open dialogue can help set realistic expectations and reduce stress.  

Take care of you, too 

Your child’s education and stress levels are huge priorities, but so is your own mental health and wellness.  

Set aside time to relax, reward yourself for handling things and make sure to find quality time to spend with your family that’s not just about school.  

Parenting is a tough job and COVID-19 hasn’t made it any easier.  

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