Articles

Working from home while homeschooling the kids

Dr Anamika Devi

It's a tough gig, but expert advice suggests that it is possible to maintain the wellbeing of workers and their kids in that unprecedented 2020 phenomenon, the home / school / office.

Pandemic-related school closures increase the pressure on working parents and can be hard on kids too, as they play second fiddle to zoom meetings and project deadlines. Below, we share advice from Dr Anamika Devi about ways to maintain parent and child wellbeing whilst home-schooling and home-working. It's a worthwhile read for working parents who find themselves once again pushed into the role of substitute teacher, and also for managers of people in this situation (Return to Work Matters Editor).

Maintain a routine for young children and yourself

Setting up a routine for daily activities can regulate your body clock, minimise frustration and keep you organised.

In this unpredictable situation, planning our time in such a way means we can focus on children’s activities as well as fulfil our work commitments. 

Following a set routine can minimise stress and anxiety for parents and their children, while promoting organisation and enjoyment of learning moments at home. Children should have a clear picture of what the day may look like and what activities they are going to finish – just like they would in the classroom.”

It’s okay to play

Playing is a fun but vital activity, which helps children reduce distress while learning new things from their surroundings.

Children perceive real experiences by engaging in imaginative worlds. For example, by pretending to be a doctor and a patient, they try to understand these real-life roles through their imaginations. Playing with puzzles, blocks, musical instruments and using recycled items for building any construction could be appropriate for young children.

For older kids, try creating longer projects that teach a lesson while giving a sense of accomplishment.

The classic papier-mâché volcano is great for this; it keeps children active and creative while teaching them about our world. These projects also support children’s holistic development and improve their self-learning capabilities.

Make wellbeing of your children and yourself the top priority

It’s important to realise we can’t achieve everything; managing expectations can reduce our stress and tension.

Don’t feel guilty if you can’t give your children enough of your time or activities. Rather, communicate with teachers and other parents to learn about alternative techniques and arrangements. This will assist with being flexible with children’s routines and thinking realistically of a way of managing workloads during this unexpected time.

If both parents are working from home, then having a mutual understanding among all family members is vital. It is impossible to juggle everything; rather, we should think about cutting out some of the extra workload for the wellbeing of all family members.

Create a space for family time

Creating a family space by sharing time, even just to enjoy a movie together, can boost our mood and give us the energy to finish work commitments.

In our free time, we should enjoy moments with children without the pressure of achievement or learning goals. But it’s also important for parents to talk to their children about the coronavirus, by creating a safe family space where concerns can be shared.

Young children can experience anxiety and stress more than adults as they are seeing news on TV or hearing updates from other people but with perhaps less understanding about the practical situation. We need to allow them to express their feelings and welcome them to open a discussion.

Having a conversation and relating the current situation in a positive way to children could minimise their anxiety and stress, even ours as well. If we view the situation positively, plan accordingly, follow the routine, maintain a flexible attitude and focus on our wellbeing, we’ll be in a better mindset to enjoy this time spent with children at home during this pandemic and even once it’s over.
 
Dr Anamika Devi is a Lecturer in Early Childhood Education in the School of Education at RMIT University. She has more than eight years’ teaching and industry experience in early childhood education. Devi is a member of Early Childhood Australia.