How to Juggle Working from Home and Home-schooling

Yes, those wilderness months were challenging, we made mistakes but, we learned many important things along the way. So, with this in mind, here are a few survival tips – or reminders to help you get into the swing of things at a much quicker pace this time around.

1. Routine, routine, routine
Last time, we found out the hard way that we all need a routine, children and adults alike. Schools typically provide this along with structure and boundaries and recreating this in our own homes can provide security for your child and familiarity, which can help to put them at ease.

Get up at the same time, have breakfast together and have lunches and exercise planned into the day. Ensuring children keep their normal bedtime routine can make life easier too, trying to work and home-school is a challenge in itself, try doing that with a tired and fractious child!

2. Introduce rewards

Praise and recognition for completion of work is important but so can be providing rewards for completion of tasks/goals. It’s important for children to learn social and life skills, so teach your child that if they carry out the tasks and activities they need to do during the day, they then get the opportunity to do the activity they asked for.

Remember, this only works if you deliver on your promise, if they earn the rewards, make sure they receive them and, do not give in to any petitions or pleading if they have not kept their side of the bargain either

Bonus tip: Give everyone five pieces of paper and get them to write down the things they would like to do that day and put them in a hat or box so you can pull out one from each child for the day. Schedule them in between lessons, so the child can see when it is their turn for their activity.

3. Create a plan for the day/week
Having a structure can, not only help maintain school hours and allow an easier adjustment for when they do return, but it provides you all with a plan for the day. Everyone knows what is expected, and when; when breaks are and when activities are. It allows greater focus and can help ensure your child (and you) can keep on top of the work set.

Teachers should provide a study plan which can be helpful and going through this with your child at the start of the day will help. Activities should be segmented into ‘school time’ sections for example, first thing in the morning before break we will complete maths and spelling. This should help you also plan what you need to get done throughout the day, and provide some breathing space to achieve this.

Bonus tip: Be patient, children would not normally be presented with a full daily plan at the start of the day, and this can be a little overwhelming at first. Displaying these somewhere visible, such as a whiteboard, and ticking them off on completion should help.

4. Make time for fun

Ideally if you can incorporate this with exercise, all the better. At school, your children will likely be running around during every break and at lunchtime so getting outside would be recommended. If PE has not been added to your schedule, you should incorporate this yourself. Taking walks, playing football or taking part in PE with Joe all helps.

Adding some creativity and fun times during the day will also keep your child happy. Their reward activity could be painting and colouring, watching TV or even baking. Doing something fun together, outside of school work, redresses the balance and reminds your child that you are parents, not just the stand-in teacher.

Bonus tip: Set up an obstacle course in the garden, or organise outdoor-based activities such as finding how many houses in your neighbourhood have red doors or searching the park for different types of leaves which they can collect and then learn about.

5. Go digital
Most parents might not be familiar with the wide range of apps, platforms, and websites used every day in school. Your children’s teachers should have provided you with some online resources however there are many others, pick the ones that suit you and your children best – and mixing between on and offline can also help keep them motivated.

If you are working from home, there will be times when you just need to get your head down, or attend a meeting where you cannot be disturbed, These are times when you can schedule in TV, computer or PlayStation time or even switch to TV-based learning such as Learn & revise – BBC Bitesize
Schedule it in to balance it with other activities and your work schedule.

6. Do what you can
Juggle work and Home-schooling is not easy at the best of times, add to this that a child’s attention span is two to three minutes per year of their age, so it is important to keep your children engaged.

Though it may seem daunting, concentrate on the basics if you are feeling overwhelmed or really don’t understand the work set. Mix it up with using items around you to make maths fun or get them practising doing it in their head.
Talk to the teachers about what is, and is not, achievable. You might be surprised by their response – and alternative solutions might be provided. Everyone’s situation is different, and schools will understand that there needs to be flexibility.

7. Create space
Everyone needs their own space at times, and it’s important that this is respected and created at different times during the day.

Remove distractions and let everyone have a place of their own – a simple space in which they can have ‘me-time’ and reflect.

8. Maintaining social time
One key aspect our children will be missing is the social interaction they gain at school. It is as important for our children to connect with others so creating virtual opportunities for them to play (safely) can be beneficial.
You can set up virtual play dates on a one-to-one basis, or create virtual playgrounds, where children can come together to chat or play. Platforms like Zoom or Skype are a great, free way to organise this and you’ll be able to free up some personal time for yourself in the meantime.

Bonus tip: This can also be a great way for parents to compare notes and offer support to one another. However, please make sure parental controls are on, and that you remain aware of your child’s internet activity, and also encourage the child to be open with you about any new people trying to make contact.

9. Give yourself a break
The worst thing you can do is compare yourself to others, everyone’s situation is different, we all have out own challenges and we need to do what we can with what we have available to us. Even with plans, structure and the best will in the world, we cannot expect things to run smoothly, not upsets, no tantrums (and not just the children!), no resistance. We are not Teachers, and we should not expect to be. We are parents trying to do the best we can, in a very unusual situation.

Pick your battles. This is not a sprint, it’s a marathon, and you need to keep your sanity and energy the best you can.

Treat the next few months as a learning exercise for the whole family. Make the most of being able to spend quality time with your loved ones and acknowledge your own achievements, however small.

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