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5 tips to work from home and homeschool at the same time

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I’m taking a short break from the blogging niche topic to bring something that is very topical and important right now. I won’t do this often, I promise, but I need to share tips on how to work from home and homeschool at the same time.

More and more parents are having to work from home and homeschool at the same time. In Ontario, we started it as soon as we came back from Christmas break, but some have been doing it for longer because of the rising number of cases in various areas.

When the kids came home in March 2020, I didn’t do much homeschooling. The schoolwork was set to allow the children to work when they could and how they could. One of mine just got on with it on her own. The other was too young and ended up just spending time playing, building, and doing crafts.

This time, we’re doing it properly. I’m having to work from home and homeschool at the same time.

It’s not easy. Not at all.

But it is doable.

Just.

Thankfully, one of my girls is old enough to do most of her work herself. She has Zoom classes where she can ask the questions she needs so she’s not pestering me.

The problem is my JKer. She needs constant attention. I’m finding the school is setting more work that requires a parent to help, not appreciating the fact that we’re trying to work at the same time.

So, I’m finding a way around it all. Here are my five top tips to work from home and homeschool at the same time.

Don’t worry too much when you work from home and homeschool

First of all, don’t put too much pressure on yourself. Depending on the age of your children, homeschooling doesn’t require a lot of work.

My JKer needs me for about two hours during the day split up in different sections. For most of that time, she’s on a Zoom class with her teachers. She just needs me to help with unmuting and muting her mic, encouraging her to speak up, and deal with any teach problems. The rest of the time is getting her to navigate between different lessons and videos.

My Gr. 3 girl doesn’t need me at all really, especially with not how her school has things set up. She just gets on with her work. But if she does need my help, it’s for a quick question about how to spell something or there’s a tech problem.

Outside of those times they need me, I can still work from home.

The first couple of days I got very stressed. How was I supposed to manage it all? Then I decided not to worry too much about it. I’d catch up on the work when I could or the girls will catch up on their schooling when they can.

This is a stressful time for all, so try not to add more to your plate. Your kids will catch up next year. After all, all the kids will be in similar positions.

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Set times where work doesn’t matter

You’ll want to set some times of the day where it’s all about your children and their schooling. This is the best way I’ve found to make it possible to work from home and homeschool at the same time.

My hours where I don’t work are the ones when my JKer is in her Zoom classes. She needs me the most then to help understand what the teacher is asking (usually because somebody has forgotten to turn their mic off and it’s hard to hear) or because there’s a tech problem. I also struggle with the distraction of the lesson and making sure my JKer keeps her butt on her chair.

During these times, I’ll do a little bit of work, but I won’t worry too much if the rest of my diary is left undone. The focus is on the schoolwork during these hours of the day.

These hours are also when I’ll try to do some of the work that my JKer needs me for—the work that says “ask a parent to help.” I do wish there was less of this, but at least JK isn’t graded in the way that everything else is. It’s not even compulsory here.

Know when you can work the best

Likewise, I’ll have times of the day when my work becomes my priority. For me, it’s around 2 p.m. This is when all Zoom classes are over and I can encourage my JKer to build with her blocks or draw—yes, that’s part of the learning for this age.

My Gr. 3 girl comes into the office with me at this point to finish off her school work, but she’s quiet enough so I can get on with work.

Then I’ll do work at the end of the day. I’ve always worked best at night, so I still find it useful now. I use this time to catch up on anything I couldn’t get done in the day or to get ahead for the next day.

This part of my routine has become extremely useful.

The only day I don’t work late is Friday. I’ll get as much as I can done before 6 p.m. and that’s it for the weekend.

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Find videos and read-along sites

There’s nothing wrong with finding websites to do it all for you. Especially for Kindergarten and other younger children.

When I work from home and homeschool, I rely a lot on videos and read-along books. Her teachers have provided websites and links to go to for this sort of teaching. She sits with her headphones and clicks through the books and the links.

I’ve even made sure she figures out how to navigate the links her teacher gives her and the books she can read. This gives me a little time to just focus on work while she’s waiting for her next Zoom class.

Oh, and I encourage a lot of drawing. It’s become my thing when I need to keep her quiet for 10 minutes.

This isn’t as good for older children, but there are a few options available. My Gr. 3 girl likes to do a lot of drawing, so we’ve found sites that will help her with that. It keeps her quiet if I need it for a little bit to keep working.

Work from Home and Homeschool at the Same Time

Set regular breaks from it all just for playtime and fun

Breaks are important. You need breaks just when you’re working from home in general. You definitely need breaks to work from home and homeschool.

Set the breaks for both you and your children. My kids get more breaks than I do to follow their school timetable.

You want to do something fun during these breaks. Arrange to go for a walk or play outside for a bit. Grab something to each. Play some games in the house.

We have no screen time during these breaks.

The trick is to step away from the computer completely. You want to try to move around and get the blood flowing again. You’ll be ready to go back to work after your break.

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Your children will adapt so you can work from home and homeschool at the same time. Most will find a way to make it possible for you to do both. It’s all about a routine that works for all of you.

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