Becoming the Teacher: A Parent’s Guide to Balancing Your Kid’s Curriculum With Your Own

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The COVID-19 pandemic has changed more than most of us anticipated. Not only are we washing our hands like mad men, but we’re turning our homes into offices, gyms, and with the cancellation of schools, classrooms. With the sudden addition of homeschooling to parents’ schedules, juggling work and home responsibilities on top of being the teacher can seem like an impossible task. But with a few adjustments, you can make slipping into the teacher role a natural part of your schedule while still maintaining your sanity and productivity.


Set a Schedule. Chances are you’re juggling a lot, especially if you’re now working from home. Make a daily/weekly to-do list of your own. This may include everything from cooking and running errands to completing work tasks and designating down-time for yourself. Once you have a list of all you need to do, talk with your child and/or school and find out what’s on tap for your at-home curriculum. Plan learning sessions with your child—make them feel included. Try asking about their favorite/least favorite subjects and let them know that you’re learning too.


Make it a Focused Learning Experience:


Reinforce the Learning Schedule. Try drawing it up together. Have fun with it—make it something they’ll want to look at! Then leave the schedule in a place they will see it often— try the fridge or their bedroom mirror. Remind them to take a look at it every morning.


Find a Good Learning Environment and Stick to It. Designate a single spot away from technology and distractions to learn. You want to create a space that they’ll associate with focusing and learning, set apart from the couch, bedroom, or play-room. Designating a space just for school will encourage them to flip off the down-time switch and enter learning mode. You should also designate a space for you to work from home. This means you should set clear boundaries with your child regarding when you need time to work or hop on a conference call, and when you can help out with school.


Separate School Time from Down Time. Remember that their world has changed too, and it’ll likely be difficult to adjust to learning at home. Make sure to include breaks during learning sessions and make them clear on the schedule. Setting boundaries between work and play will likely take some adjustment.


Be Kind to Yourself:


Practice Turning Off Teacher Mode. When the learning day is done, it’s done. It can be hard to compartmentalize when you’re sleeping under the same roof that you’re working and teaching in, but treat a day of classes like a day at work—leave it at the door before coming home. The act of coming home may have changed, but its meaning doesn’t have to. It’s also important to relax with your child—make time to play or just snuggle. Remind them you’re still their parent at the end of the day.


Practice Self-Care. After a day of learning, take a bath, read a book, watch some TV— find ways to remind yourself that you are taking on yet another role and deserve to relax accordingly, which means dropping the pencil and calculator and coming home to yourself.


Reflect Positively On Your Day. Treat the incorporation of teaching into your schedule the way you would a new job. At the end of the day, reflect on how you thought things went and come up with one realistic way to improve your child’s learning experience as well as a way you can improve how you get your own work done. Regular reflection and conscious efforts to improve upon your instructing methods and abilities will open the door to teaching becoming an enjoyable, rewarding experience for both you and your child. In addition to pinpointing ways to improve, reflection should include recognition of what you are doing well. Remind yourself that this is all new and give yourself a break for not being perfect.


Most importantly, remind yourself that this situation is new to everyone and there’s no right path towards conquering it. We’re all exploring this new world together, and it’s somewhere none of us have ever been—so be patient and kind to yourself and your kids, and everything will fall into place.


-Tess Howat



Photo Credit: pockethifi IMG_9841 via photopin (license) 

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