It's been 8 weeks since Philadelphia schools closed amid the COVID-19 pandemic, leaving parents and caregivers pivoting back and forth between work schedules and full-time childcare, amongst other concerns.
Last week was the first official week of online learning, and homeschooling may be feeling like this excerpt from Dave Eggers' recent New York Times article...
Author: Do you have kids?
A: Well, make sure they keep up with school. Keep up with their worksheets and Zoom, and check their work, and keep them off screens, and go outside, and don’t worry about school. It’s a pandemic, after all.
P: Um. Many of the things you just said sound contradictory.
A: Not at all. I’ll rephrase: Your kids are living through a crisis. It’s all right if they feel anxious, or if you can’t maintain routines or keep up with regular school schedules. Just make sure they don’t fall behind, and remember that kids thrive on routine. So stick to a schedule, but give them space, and stay inside, and go outside, and use technology to connect with teachers and friends, and limit screen time.
P: Wait. So …
For those lucky enough to still currently be employed and privileged to be able to work from home, there have been adjustments to new schedules and communications between both coworkers and children.
For students, there is sure to be uncertainty and even anxiety as to how to navigate being at home but also still trying to complete schoolwork online, let alone not being able to see their teachers and friends.
Here are some general tips and suggestions to try and help parents and children cope:
Create a Routine
- Wake up at the same time on work and school days.
- Get dressed as if you were leaving the house and going to work or school.
- Eat breakfast so you have plenty of fuel to kickstart your day.
- Use an online calendar like Google or Trello to post your daily work and school schedules, or write out schedules on a dry erase board or paper and post in a shared room where everyone can access and reference them.
- Get a good night's sleep!
Make a Dedicated Work Area
- Depending on how much room you have available, try to set up a work area separate from your bedroom or living room.
- Work in a room that has plenty of electrical outlets to keep computers, laptops, tablets, smartphones, and any other digital tools charged and ready to use at any given time throughout the day.
- Make sure your work area is as comfortable yet ergonomic as possible. That being said, don't sit all day—get up and move around when you need to and stretch to alleviate any strains or pains you may be experiencing.
- Try and keep distractions to a minimum, like turning off the television and video games, and set time limits while surfing the internet.
- Good lighting is key and helps with eye strain. If possible, try to open up windows for direct sunlight to also help brighten moods.
Communication is Key
- Speak with your boss, supervisor, and / or coworkers and let them know that you are also homeschooling a child while working your job from home.
- Tag team with your partner, another family member, or another responsible person in your household for assistance throughout the day to avoid homeschooling fatigue.
- Caregivers and students, make sure if you do have any questions or concerns about access to school lessons and deadlines for homework, that you speak to teachers frequently.
- Also understand that teachers have been thrust into unfamiliar teaching territory with remote instruction, so be patient and understanding towards them as well.
- Set boundaries between work and school and personal and family time. When your workday or school day is finished, log out and don't log back in until the next day. Give yourself time to refresh and relax your mind, body, and soul.
- Take breaks throughout your day: stand up, walk around, stretch out, or even just close your eyes for five minutes and relax.
- With children not being able to have recess with their friends, try PlayWorks so they can let off some steam.
- Grab a snack and stay hydrated!
- Call or text a friend or family member to chat about non-work or school-related topics.
- Read a book—for enjoyment!
- Understand that you can only juggle and multitask so much at any given time.
- Realize that there is just no way you are going to be able to provide the same level of education that your child would be getting through a normal schooling scenario.
- If your child does not finish all their assigned work, students will not be penalized for it during their final grading period, per the School District of Philadelphia.
- Some days you may feel overwhelmed and not feeling up to doing anything. You're allowed to have bad days. You can always try again tomorrow!
- Burn out and stress are real concerns. Learn how to read your own body, adjust your schedule accordingly when you can, and practice self-care.
We understand people all have unique situations for both work and schooling schedules currently, as well as different home lives and family dynamics, but we do hope you have found some of these tips and suggestions useful and helpful.
And hey, here's something else to put on your calendar to look forward to: Philadelphia Public School's let out on June 12, so that's less than 5 more weeks of homeschooling!
We'll be back with more tips and suggestions for parents, caregivers, and children for "summer vacation"...