The academic and emotional needs of my children are very different. How do I make sure everyone’s needs are met?
Even the most experienced teachers sometimes find this to be a challenge. Maybe one child has difficulty staying focused for more than a few minutes, while another stays focused but needs more academic support. One child is at a first grade reading level, another is at a sixth grade reading level. One child can’t sit still and is constantly getting distracted, so you spend all of your time refocusing them instead of supporting your other child who needs academic help. It’s not easy.
There is a reason teachers go to school for 4-6 years before they enter a classroom. The work they do is incredibly nuanced and requires a good deal of expertise.
As a parent or guardian, you should instruct each child separately if you can. Either way, identify the emotional or academic area for which you have the most pressing concerns, and speak to them about it. During this conversation:
- Set goals. “I need you to work independently while I am working with Jack.”
- Set timers. “When this timer goes off you should be done with the first page.”
- Be clear and patient about expectations. “I know it’s hard to stay focused when you would rather be doing other things. When you’re done with this question, how about taking a three minute snack break?”
I work from home and I feel pulled between being successful at my job, being a patient and loving parent, and giving my children the academic support they need. How do I balance it all?
To be honest, no one can. And trying to take it all on is most often a recipe for disaster. That said, these three strategies can at least tip the scale in your favor:
Decide what you expect
Sometimes you don’t know what you want your children to do until they aren’t doing it. For example, one child is using their tablet, with full volume, right next to their sibling, who is trying to complete their school assignment. You snap at your child for using their tablet and being inconsiderate when you never set that expectation in the first place. If remote learning is going to work, the adults need to set expectations for behavior. Think about where they will physically be, how they should act, what your role is, and even what constitutes quality work. Once the expectations are clear to everyone, there will likely be less conflicts.
Go easy on yourself
Remember that unless you are an experienced teacher, nobody is expecting you to be an excellent teacher overnight. It takes years, and you have many other responsibilities. We come across very few, if any, parents who feel successful at balancing remote learning, parenting and work. Again, teachers attend school for 4-6 years or more to acquire the knowledge they need to do their job. And even if you are a teacher, we know all too well that teaching your own children is an entirely different ballgame.
Look into hiring an expert
There are a variety of structures becoming available to parents who need support with distance learning. Whether it’s remote, in-home, or a hybrid of the two; individual, single household, or for a learning pod; part-time, full-time, or for a few hours here and there — most everyone with school aged children is trying to figure out how to make the Fall more successful than the Spring. If cost is an issue, some of the options are more affordable than you may think.
If we decide to hire an in-home teacher, should we use the school’s remote curriculum, or ask the teacher to design their own?
This is entirely up to you and the teacher you have hired. There are pros and cons to each, and you should weigh the benefits of both scenarios. If you decide to use the school’s remote curriculum, your child will remain closely entwined with the school’s culture and academic expectations. This is a good option if you intend for your child to return to the school for regular in-classroom instruction when this option becomes available. In other words, you will ensure that upon your child’s return, they still meet the academic expectations according to the school’s standards. It is also generally less preparation for the teacher, and thus, may be more appealing to them — and affordable for you.
However, if a teacher is interested in using their own curriculum, it is likely that they are incredibly passionate about teaching and enjoy the lesson-planning process, so the quality of the curriculum will probably reflect that. In general, if the teacher you are working with is offering a curriculum that you feel is of a superior quality to the school’s, you should use theirs. If this is the case, make sure you and the teacher are clear about what methods of instruction they use, how they assess for student learning, and how engaging it is for your child(ren).
As we quickly approach the start of a new year, families are eager for answers. Leave your questions on twitter @getselectedco, or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.