Tips and Resources to Help Working Parents to Weather COVID Classroom Closures

The one thing we parents can all agree on is how much we will miss the rumble of the school bus as it whisks our kids away to school each Fall!

With most states relying on local school districts to decide when they feel safe enough to open, parents are bracing for disruption.  Even if your child’s school is in one of the few states like Texas and Arkansas to open in September, you can bet on re-shuttering periodically and some distance learning challenges as COVID infections ebb and flow.  

So, what is a working parent to do to keep some sanity and calm without undermining both a job and a child’s education?  Here are a few tips:

  • Be all in it together.  You and your child are facing the same challenge:  how to carve out time to work while also being available for co-workers or teachers.  Solving these together will allow you an opportunity to collaborate with your child and gain insight into how space and support will help you both be successful.  Working together, you’ll both gain respect for the other’s need to conference with teachers or co-workers or simply have quiet time to get work done.  
  • If you have space  ̶ even a corner of the living room or a spare bedroom  ̶  work with your kids to create a working/learning zone.  This is not a space for sleeping, eating, or playing.  Performance and scholarship require a dedicated environment that screams “work quietly,” so be clear about the rules for the space.  Kids thrive on parental modeling and consistency, so entering a “school/work” zone in your house at the same time each day, dressed and with teeth brushed, will provide the discipline necessary for successful remote learning.  Working together also gives you access to help monitor and aid when questions arise while perhaps getting a bit of work done yourself.
  • However you choose to design a space in which to do work or school, be sure it is comfortable and ergonomic.  A bean bag chair is great for kids to lounge on while chatting with their teachers or listening to a lecture.  Parents will want to make sure they have a printer available and a whiteboard for thinking creatively.  Colorful rugs and an Achievement Board will go a long way toward re-creating the learning environment kids love about their classrooms.
  • Be on the same schedule!  Most schools are using an asynchronous distance learning model.  What this means is that you and your student can choose the timeframe that works best for everyone.  But remember, whether you begin at eight or nine a.m., a consistent routine works best for all of us, especially kids.  Be sure to schedule breaks, including snack time, lunch, and exercise.  Young kids learn best with short bursts of activity between lessons.  Reward successful completion of their school day with an hour of video or free screen time, so you can get some extra work done.
  • Teachers are your best resource, and you should have their numbers on speed dial.  Reach out early and often to learn what you need to do to keep your child from falling behind.  Most teachers have banks of remedial worksheets and online resources for struggling learners, so don’t wait to call if your child is falling behind or is bored by having already forged ahead.  
  • Write down critical phone numbers, email addresses, and passwords for school technology support and distance-learning portals. 
  • Consider starting a “learning pod,” sometimes called a “pandemic pod.”  These are safe, dependable, and collaborative support groups of parents who can help share the load of educating and socializing kids.

Let’s be real.  At no time will this school year will be easy.  Parents and teachers striving valiantly to keep their jobs while ensuring a quality education for kids are simply superheroes.  And that is one title you, whichever role you play, should own – proudly!  

Checklists for Going Back to School.  CDC.gov   These CDC checklists are intended to help parents, guardians, and caregivers, plan and prepare for the upcoming school year.

Map:  Where Are Schools Open?  State-by-state Building Reopening Data.  Edweek.org  

How to Build a Pod (for Learning or Just Socializing) for Your Family.  Realsimple.com  This article supplies some tips about how to build a social or learning “pod” to maximize you and your child’s social and school/work-life while staying safe during the pandemic. 

How Companies Are Supporting Working Parents in The COVID Economy.  Forbes.com   Check out how these iconic companies are keeping top talent with policies that support working families with kids.

At-Home Learning Resources for the COVID-19 Outbreak.  Familyeducation.com   For more terrific tips and tricks read Julie Mason’s article on how to keep your focus on both work and your child’s schoolwork during COVID-19 closures.