As uncertainty about fall looms, we’re left wondering if schools will open, what that will look like, and how many people will once again be working from home. Many families who never planned to homeschool are now considering homeschooling and working from home as an option. So, how can parents effectively work and homeschool their kids a the same time?
I’ve been fortunate to be able to work from home and homeschool for the last five years. I won’t kid you, it’s tough, even for those of us experienced at doing it. But, it is possible and well worth it! The most important tips I can give you: get organized and communicate.
ORGANIZE YOUR DAY AND SPACE
Establish workspaces for you and your children. The key is to have a place where you work. When you’re there, it’s work time. Some families are fortunate to have an office/classroom at home. Many other families use their kitchen or dining tables. If you do that, remind everyone that unless food is on the table, the table means it’s time to work.
Minimize distractions as much as you can. Children shouldn’t have phones or computers on (unless it’s for the work being done). You might play music, but don’t let it become distracting. Use the TV or an Echo device that kids won’t play with.
Organize your time with a schedule, too. Plan when everyone will get up, work and relax. Take breaks when needed. Homeschooling rarely works well with a super strict schedule. Be flexible. Schedule time out of the house, too. There are many homeschooling resources in our community, including co-ops and community homeschool classes (including tennis, robotics and more!)
COMMUNICATE WITH YOUR KIDS
Communication is tough when working from home and homeschooling. You have a work call. Your child need helps with math. The dog needs out. Everyone suddenly needs you right now. Without clear communication, someone is bound to get upset.
If you have young children, separate school and work times. Be clear with children when you need alone time for work. Older children may be able to work independently at the same time as you.
One trap that many new homeschooling families fall prey to is teaching too much. Don’t feel like you have to make everything educational. Interactions with your children as you do school, live your life, and as they see you working and interacting with others will teach them, too. Remember, this is still your home and your family.
One way to communicate your availability is with a simple signal. Print a copy of a traffic light and tape it to your door. Use a clothes pin to tell children if they can interrupt you or not. Revise this tool as children get older to keep it appropriate.
Red light: Don’t come in unless it’s an emergency
Yellow light: Come in and wait patiently for Mom or Dad
Green light: Come on in and talk