So, you’re back in school and so are your kids. And unlike a normal school year, your children might be at home for some part of the week, learning alongside you as you attempt to focus on school and work, both of which you might be doing from home, too. How can you navigate the changes in school delivery for yourself while helping your children do the same? Here are several suggestions for you as a student-parent of a K-12 student.

Set up a workspace.

If you have been working from home in any capacity, you probably have some sort of setup, but now that you and your children are back in school, it’s critical that you have a designated room or place for you and your children to spread out and work. Set up a small table in your living room, a desk or table in your child’s room, or transform that rarely used guest room into your “school room” for now. If you have a home office and younger children who need more supervision, perhaps there’s room to add a table where your children can work on their at-home days.

Set expectations.

Talk with your children about your responsibilities, their responsibilities, and how you can work as a team to make sure everyone is successful. When you need to focus on school or work and your children are in school, perhaps you can set up certain times of the day for them to come to you with questions and help.

Reduce the distractions.

In setting up your home school space, be mindful of the things that could prove distracting for your children. You might not have much choice, but if your children will do school in the living room, maybe a partition wall could help separate the space visually and keep your children on task during school hours. If you have desks in the bedrooms, could you temporarily move toys and games to a closet to avoid temptation during school hours?

Become a pro at scheduling your time.

You have a lot on your plate: your own school schedule, homework, your job, helping your children figure out remote school, and helping them with homework. Time management is a must. Your school/online school and work schedule are probably pretty set, so block out time for everything else to make the most of your days. Maybe that looks something like this:

Wakeup/workout/eat                                                        6:00-7:30

Work                                                                                      7:30-2:30

Help child with homework on remote days                   2:30-3:30

School work/asynchronous class                                     3:30-5:00

Real-time online class                                                        5:00-6:00                                                  

Dinner/family time                                                             6:00-7:30

Homework (20-min break to get kids to bed)               7:30-9:30

Wind down/bed                                                                   9:30-10:30

Clearly, having a schedule each day is essential for you, but it’s good for your children too. Here are just a few of the benefits of teaching your children good time management:

  • Your children will feel less stress and anxiety.
  • Good time management is associated with higher academic achievement.
  • Your children will be better able to prepare for and succeed on tests.
  • Your children will have more free time for the fun things!

Embrace tools that help.

This might include timers, checklists, posted schedules around the house, or a planner app (or hard-copy planner). And of course, don’t forget about apps that help your children with everything from self-study to spelling, from staying focused to memorizing those math facts. We live in the digital age, which means there’s an app for just about everything. Ask your child’s teacher for ideas or visit the school website to see what tools they recommend that will help this year go a little more smoothly.

“We’re all in this together” is the mantra of 2020, and it’s true. While that doesn’t make life easier right now, the challenges you and your family are facing are indeed shared by many. If you’re overwhelmed by school, communicate with your instructors. They are there to help. If your children are struggling, reach out to their teachers to get them back on track as quickly as possible. Breathe in, breathe out, and just do your best!

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