Disclaimer: This post is geared towards working adult students with children who have been allowed to telecommute. If you are in limbo right now at work or don’t have technological access at home, please check with your adviser, professors, and local cable and internet networks about ways that they are handling the situation. Also, check with your child’s school district on ways that they are meeting the needs of families without internet access or computers.
If you’re like me, you just received word that your child’s school will be closed for a few weeks. By now, many colleges have also gone online. If yours is the latest to go online, let’s get you taken care of first. Make sure that you have access to a computer and laptop. Laptops usually can be checked out from your college. If you have not heard of this before, check your campus library or IT department and ask about their policies, especially during a pandemic. Next, internet access. Some colleges are working on arrangements to make sure that their students can continue to work online. If yours is not, contact your local cable or internet provider service and see if they are offering special fees or access for students. There are a good deal of companies making gracious exceptions for students. You may also try checking with your local school district to see if they are providing internet access and computer access for families during this time.
Now, you also have a child or children at home. The first thing to do is take a deep breath and remember that you will be alright, as long as you plan. My best student success stories were the ones who religiously planned every week. So get ready to make a schedule. Here’s the thing: a schedule is not to ensure that the entire day runs smoothly. A schedule is simply a roadmap that helps you stay on track. Disruptions will occur, but when they do, you can take a look at your planned day and find a way to still make it work. So, you have professional work to do, school work to complete, and your child has work to complete as well. Using a simple 168 hour week calendar, plan out a general week.
In this case, I’ll argue that you should plan your child’s day and then work your day around it. I have tried to plan my family’s days multiple ways and starting with the children’s activities first makes it easier to get things done.
- When should they read?
- What lessons does their teacher have assigned for them?
- What can your child do without your help every minute?
- Are there any topics or skills you want your child to learn during this time?
- Breakfast time? Lunch time? Snack?
- When is it time to play outside?
Plan it all!
Next, add in your work, home, and school schedule. Are there any household duties that you can complete while your child is doing his or her work? Are there homework assignments or professional assignments that you can complete with your child? My kids love it when I sit at the kitchen table with them and do my work while they do their homework. Be sure to decide on the best time for you to complete certain projects. For example, if you normally take on-campus classes in the evening, then you may want to save that work until evening time or after your children go to bed. If you’re normally at your job from 9am-5pm, then it may make sense for you to do that type of work between those hours. Remember that this new schedule is only for a time period, so you don’t want to veer off from it too much. That way, when we all get back to school and work, we won’t have a lot to adjust to.
For my family, the weekly plan looks like this:
5:50am: Dog starts barking
6am: Feed dog and let her out back; make much needed coffee
7:30: Kids make up beds/clean room (this would have been travel time to school and work).
8am: Kids get dressed and have free time
9am: Math time
9:30am: Science and science experiment
10:30-11: Reading and writing exercises
11-11:30 Additional online work that teachers sent home, and a break for all.
12 noon: Lunchtime
1pm-5:30pm: This will be a mix of movies, additional work that my husband and I want the kids to learn, music time, art, and playtime.
5:30-6:30pm: Cook dinner, eat, clean kitchen
6:30-7pm: Family game time (kids choice)
7pm: Kids’ baths, re-clean their rooms
8pm: Kids in bed
*I don’t schedule snack time, as that changes daily. We’ll play it by ear. Also, learning occurs in many forms (sitting at a table, computer, outside, while cooking, playing a game, etc.). Therefore, playtime really means that the kids can do what they want for that period of time.
Right now, my children are eight and six, so for most of their work, I can take 10 minutes to get them started, and while they finish I can work on my job related assignments. They’ll interrupt me to ask questions or to help them figure out a problem, but I’ve gotten pretty good at being able to do this while working on my own projects. This schedule will readjust once I know my husband’s work plans. Any other work will take place after the children go to bed.
For you, figure out what you can do while your kids are working. Again, this schedule is the game plan to help our family stay on track, however, I know that we will be thrown off many times (and that’s okay). Other sites, like Khan Academy, have sample schedules for all grades as well.
As I’m wrapping this piece up, my son just asked me to draw with him. The schedule will change again, but at least we have a plan.
Be safe, sane, and keep moving forward,