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Working Parent’s Guide to Online Learning During the Pandemic

May 6, 2020

a kid with a laptop and mom

For over a month now, school-aged children around the country have been out of school. For much of that time, many parents have been grappling with how to navigate the uncharted waters of online learning, while still working remotely from home. For others, especially those who are classified as essential workers such as doctors, nurses, alongside groceries clerks and more, are still reporting to work while their children are in alternative care settings. 

Regardless, the fact remains that successful online learning is tough to achieve when parents must continue their own work to support their families. For those workers who have no other choice than to keep doing their jobs while simultaneously trying to meet their children’s academic needs, this article is tailored towards finding solutions to keep families afloat during this turbulent time. 

While it might seem like the ultimate impossible task to homeschool children while still going to work whether remotely or otherwise, there are some things to keep in mind, and a few workarounds depending on your personal situation. Keep reading to find a parent’s guide to online learning and discover several tips for making the next few weeks and months sailing as smoothly as possible!

Mental Tricks and Tips

kids are drawing at home


As parents, we all want our children to have the best possible education. However, we are living through an unprecedented pandemic, so it’s necessary to take a step back and redefine our expectations and limits. Keep in mind the following before going any further in your homeschooling journey:


Keep your expectations in check

When at school, children spend many hours a day learning subjects from across the curriculum, as well as special extracurricular subjects such as music, art, and PE. They see multiple adults per day, and cycle through their lessons and practice time under the tutelage of professionals specifically trained to work with students at that specific grade level and skillset. School also offers children the opportunity for social and emotional growth and learning, thanks to interactions with friends and in student clubs.

That said, it is unreasonable to believe any parent can mimic the usual school day, especially in the midst of a national crisis. It’s important to remember that expectations should be lowered substantially regarding what parents can do as teachers, the amount time spent working on homework, and the progress that can reasonably made in such an environment. It’s natural to be afraid that kids will fall behind, but when parents stress themselves out by holding themselves to unrealistic expectations, children and their parents, struggle even more. Keep in mind that it will naturally take kids longer to do assignments, that not as much will be done at home as in the classroom, and that teachers are planning to remediate for learning gaps when school does start again.

Accept that screens will be on more often than off

We all know what the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends when it comes to screen time for young children. Unfortunately, the AAP didn’t create their guidelines during the time of Covid-19. Something important to remember is that the virtual learning your child is engaging in is unavoidable. And so is the need for parents to get their own work done, oftentimes at home. If your child sneaks in a few TV shows or video games while taking a break from classwork and while you’re on a conference call, it’s okay. 

If possible, do try to create a reliable schedule where the kids can get outside to run and play in between classwork, or whenever meets your own personal work routine. Take laptops outside to supervise, or schedule around your working hours. Regardless, don’t worry if children are spending more time on screens, because once school starts up again, the kids will be engaged with friends and teachers in real time once more!

Teaching is a challenge, and so is distance learning

In recent years there’s been a lot of talk in the media about the long, hard working hours that teachers put into their profession.  To laypeople, it may seem like an easy gig because all adults have already been through schooling themselves. However, educators go through years of training in college and beyond to prepare to teach specific subjects and grade levels. For school staff, teaching was hard even before the pandemic struck, and that was before the widespread implementation of virtual learning. 

As a parent, remember that teaching is tough. It’s even tougher for the parent who isn’t accustomed to it, let alone when navigating all new apps. Allow yourself a little extra grace knowing that you’re out of your element and comfort zone.

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Tricks of the Trade

Now that expectations have been adjusted, it’s time to talk about tips for harried parents in the midst of online teaching alongside working full time. Utilize the following advice to maximize your days: 

Don’t do it alone - take full advantage of online resources

As a working parent, the only way to catch a break to get something done is when the kids are otherwise occupied! The following apps and websites offer resources that are all great ways to ensure that your child is learning:

  • NASA: NASA created a website filled with resources specifically designed for online learning during the crisis. Click the link to find family activities, curriculums, and learning resources straight from NASA.
  • Virtual Museum Tours: Many museums, such as the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History, are offering free virtual tours while school is out of session. Check your local museums to see what they offer, too! 

Finally, don’t forget that Kids Academy is a virtual learning platform that offers interactive worksheets, videos, and much more! Take advantage of our free printable worksheets to rub up your kids' knowledge of science and social studies. Take a journey across famous national parks, get to know remarkable American inventors, and much more, with engaging educational videos on our YouTube channel

Talented and Gifted app offers an interactive and independent learning experience to maximize your time. Due to the pandemic, we’re offering 50% off on all membership plans.

Use reminder and calendar apps to the fullest extent

If you’re working from home, it can be hard to keep track of the days, and especially the various Zoom meetings for both yourself and your children! Desk calendars and paper planners are great to use, but the one thing you likely have access to all the time is your phone. There are a plethora of notepad and reminder apps, along with your phone’s own calendar. If you’re new to the virtual world of planning, look into the such apps as Evernote, Todoist, and Remember the Milk.

Feel free to check out your phone’s own freeware to see if it meets your need before downloading anything new. Once you find the software you like the best, go ahead and start scheduling! Be sure to schedule in each known teleconference or assignment due date on Sunday before the work week, if possible.

Don’t give up… but know your limits

There have been many articles circulating in the news and on social media about frustrated parents giving up on their children’s’ virtual learning. We get it: homeschooling while working full time can take multitasking of epic proportions, that are sometimes not even possible! But take heart; the end of the school year is near, and students will hopefully be back in the classroom in the fall.

With that said, try your best to keep going, as anything worth doing is difficult. But also know your own limits, and that of your kids. If something just isn’t working out, leave it for another day. Take things one day at a time and accomplish what you can.

No matter your situation, the most important thing is to come to terms with what you can and cannot do within a scope of a day, and plan for how it affects your family. Until the pandemic is brought under control, it seems that for now, we must adjust to a new normal when it comes to work and school. Try the tips and tricks above to see how they can help your family navigate this uncertain time!

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