Life amid crisis: How to thrive in school at home

Written by

Courtney Williams


October 21, 2020

With more than half the year spent dealing with a global pandemic, it’s safe to say:

The year 2020 is a wash.

No matter where you are in the world, your life has been affected by COVID-19. Ultimately, we’re left with only two options if we are to thrive for the remainder of the year. We can moan and groan, waiting for things to return to normal – or we can adapt and learn to dance in the rain.

And if we were to give an award for the Best Dance of the year, it would go to (drumroll please!):

All the parents who must now ‘two-step’ between a virtual office and a virtual school.

The transition to homeschool or online classes has forced parents to take on added responsibilities. In addition to life’s daily dance, parents now play the role of homeroom teachers, IT and AV techs, the lunch lady, and the list goes on. It’s not easy. Emotions can range from “We got this!” to “We can’t do this anymore!”

If you find yourself shuffling through this storm, take note of a few tips from experienced home/virtual school parents and professionals:

  1. Try morning meditation. A few minutes of morning mindfulness (whatever that looks like in your household) can set the tone for a positive and productive day. From breathing techniques to guided exercises, starting the day calm and focused can work wonders for all in the family.
  2. Eat lunch together. Lunchtime may be the only real break your kids get in the day, so make it special. Try to leave work and school at their respective desks and keep the conversation upbuilding and light-hearted. If time allows, take a quick walk, or do another outdoor activity your child enjoys. Many parents have found that a little mid-day Vitamin D makes a considerable difference in the household vibe.
  3. Have daily ‘team’ meetings. At the end of the school day, try rounding up your family for a daily debrief. Ask your child thought-provoking questions like: What did you do today to make your teacher’s job easier? What can you do better tomorrow? Allow your child an opportunity to speak openly about the things they’re proud of and make suggestions on how they can continually improve. Dialogue like this can encourage open communication in the family and help your child feel more accountable for their behavior.
  4. Address the bad. Some parents are shocked as they witness first-hand their child’s lack of focus and disruptive behavior during school. Instead of getting frustrated, consider this time together as an opportunity to course-correct and set your child up for future success.
  5. Reward the good: Acknowledging positive behavior is especially important if you find yourself constantly addressing the bad. Make a reward chart with each task assigned a different point value. When your child signs into class early, stays on task, follows directions, turns in homework early, etc., give him a ticket for the prize box. The prize box can be filled with things your kids love (think toys and trinkets, tickets to redeem for family outings, or an extra 30 minutes of TV time on the weekends). Leave the prize box in plain sight, so they have extra motivation to stay focused. Pro Tip: Don’t forget to also treat yourself! A self-care routine will help you remain calm and give you something to look forward to on the tough days.
  6. Don’t go at it alone. As much as your kids think so, you’re not superhuman. These are challenging times; consider calling in the troops. Make sure your children know what’s expected of them throughout the week and hold them accountable for pulling their weight in the household. Many parents find it helpful to invest in additional support – from tutors and house cleaners to delivery services for groceries, laundry, and prepared meals. The extra help can take a little off your overloaded plate.

Although daunting, you may never again have the opportunity to spend this much quality time with your children, so use it wisely.  It’s not an easy time for anyone in the family, but with a little effort, your family can learn a new dance together.