Being with your child at home a lot, especially due to the pandemic, has probably meant you have been on top of each other a lot. With your child learning and you working, you are both trying to learn simultaneously. This can be overwhelming at times and you may often realize the balance is not quite right or fair. Your child’s learning is as important to focus on like yours, as they need to learn basic skills in order to take the next step in their education. Equally, you do also need to focus on your own work to get tasks done and stay focused.
If you struggle with balancing your and your child’s at-home learning, here are some tips.
Start Your Day Earlier.
If you can wake before your children, then you should. Being up an hour earlier will allow you to get a head start on your own work, or even preparing for their school day or something you want to teach them. Even if you only manage to get something small done, you have still achieved something before your days collide.
Focus on the basics first.
If at-home learning is fairly new to you and has hit suddenly due to the pandemic, you may have not been quite ready to teach your children. You may be insufficient in the skills they need. But, starting with the basics will help you understand their skills and then you can understand what they need to work on or where their strong areas are.
For example, you may have an infant who is in pre-school or in the nursery who is currently attempting to learn the alphabet. For parents, it is crucial to understand the importance of letter recognition as it is the first step for your child to sound out syllables, understand words, and all other foundations to do with reading, writing, and speaking. Thus, you could work on them each day with certain letters and take them one step at a time. The most basic learning skills will enhance your child’s learning and get you off on the right foot.
Sometimes it can be difficult to get your children to sit down and focus on their work or homework, which puts the adult off of their work. To stop this, you can offer rewards for good behavior and completion of work. This will help you get time to focus for the time you set in order for your child to reap their reward.
Setting goals for your children will keep them occupied. If they successfully meet the target, offer them a reward. Whether it’s 30 minutes at the park, popcorn and a movie, or pizza night at the local parlor they absolutely adore, they will have a goal to focus on and more than likely be sensible and let you have time to work. All whilst getting their own work and learning done.
Learn with each other.
If your child is at an age that they can understand your work in simple terms, you could get them to learn with you. Even if it is for 20 minutes, they will enhance their skills in the industry that you work in which is something they wouldn’t learn from the school curriculum. For example, you may work in the finance industry and therefore can teach your child about money, trends, and how to deal with finances. All of which, they will benefit from in their future. Who knows, they might even take an interest in it and pursue it further at school or in their future.
Similarly, you can learn with them. Helping them with homework will help them better understand difficult tasks as you can break them down for them. When your child does homework, you do homework. Show your child that the skills they are learning now are related to things you do later on as an adult. If your child is reading, you read too; if your child is doing math, balance your checkbook.
Have a designated work area.
You definitely don’t want to completely isolate yourself from the children if no one else is around to tend to them, but the kitchen table won’t serve as the optimal workspace, either. Search for a well-lit area in your home, preferably a spare room with a door, that will enable you to organize your files, stay on task, and minimize interruptions.
You will both benefit from designated work areas, so offer your child one too. Whether they work in the kitchen and you at your desk, or the other way around, it will help you both focus.
Create to-do lists for you both.
Make to-do lists a daily ritual for you both, for your workday and their day of learning. If your children are at school for a portion of the day, but you still have a few additional tasks to complete when they arrive home from school, ask them to join you at your desk to read their favorite book or do their homework. That should buy you 30 minutes to wrap up your work for the day. Or, if you are both working and learning from home, you should create separate to-do lists and ensure that the list will help you both complete each day’s tasks before the end of the day. This will create structure, help you focus, and get done what you need to. Yours may be longer than theirs, so you could add chores or games for them to keep them occupied, which will allow you to continue to focus.
As tempting as it may be to unwind for an hour or so midway through the workday, stay on track. You’ll more than likely be surprised at how much you can accomplish in an interruption-free zone.