As more and more parents find themselves at home during the coronavirus pandemic, juggling work and kids’ education needs can become difficult.
Kristina Rodriguez, a high school teacher in Miami, is also a parent – and understands just how tricky navigating the new learning landscape can be.
“The biggest challenge was to make sure that I had a balance,” she said. “That I was a full-time teacher, but also teaching my kids and making sure they’re getting their work done.”
Here are a few tips Rodriguez has if you’re adjusting to teaching your kids from home – and working from home, too.
Rodriguez says she make sure she wakes up a little earlier than her kids so she can get a jumpstart on her own work for the day.
She sets up drafts for e-mails and looks over any reading assignments from her high school students. She makes sure she’s able to answer all of their questions and thinks about questions they may be having, too.
“I’m just prepared and ready for the day before my kids even get up,” she said.
Rodriguez says she starts the school day for her own kids at around 8 a.m., because that’s the time they would normally start school.
Communication is key when it comes to teaching your kids from home, Rodriguez says.
“Maybe they’re using a program that you’ve never heard of, maybe your kids are familiar with it but you’re not familiar with it,” she said. “E-mail the teacher. We understand what’s going on.”
Rodriguez’s two kids are in different grades – and she knows if they’re together, they won’t be able to focus on their assignments.
So she set up different learning areas in both of their rooms, to keep distractions minimal.
Rodriguez says if you’re in a house where you don’t have separate rooms, you can be creative about how you set up unique learning stations for your kids.
For example, you can use a party table in different areas of a room that’s dedicated to school assignments.
Rodriguez says that her kids will oftentimes come to her for help with any question that they can’t answer.
But she reminds them that she’s not in their classroom every time they have a question they don’t know.
“It’s easy to ask mom. It’s easy to ask dad,” she said. “Have them try to figure it out, because oftentimes they will. They will figure it out.”
Rodriguez says that there are exceptions, and if her kids are especially frustrated and can’t figure out a question, she’ll step aside to help them.
“They are also already feeling the difference in their environment and their schedule, so you want everything to flow.”
Sitting in front of a computer monitor can become tiresome – especially if you’re a kid.
“If they’re younger, they can’t be on the computer for three or four hours straight doing work,” she said. “You need to give your child breaks.”
Rodriguez said you can also model your child’s breaks based on what they’re used to at school.
Rodriguez says she takes five minutes for herself every day. She lights a candle, makes herself a cup of coffee or tea, and steps outside for some fresh air when she can.
“For every problem there’s going to be a solution,” Rodriguez says. “So think positive, take a break, give yourself a mental break as well.”
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