March 25, 2020

Engagement & Wellbeing: Remote Work with Children - Best Practices and Resources for Parents

Work from home with kids tips.

When schools are closed for an extended period of time, parents may be challenged to adjust to working from home with their kids. This might feel like an overwhelming adjustment as you try to set both yourself and your kids up for success.  While this can be stressful, and a few hiccups are inevitable, remember that you are not alone. Millions of other parents are right there with you, so give yourself (and your kids) grace, understanding, and compassion. 

Here are some tips and resources for working from home with kids:

Establish a Routine & Stick with It

Kids operate better when structure is in place. Create and post a schedule that includes Academic/Work Time, Creative Time, Chore Time, Quiet Time/Mindfulness, Movement Time/Fresh Air, etc. to establish a routine with your new little “co-workers”. As you establish your own routine, remember to:

  • Maintain normal bed and wake times. This will be important for the whole household to feel a sense of regularity. It may even help to have them “walk to school” (e.g., around the block) each morning.
  • Establish work zones. Designate areas within your living space for you to do your work and designate places for your children to do their school work or quiet time activities. Have the kids make “Quiet Zone” signage.
  • Manage expectations and boundaries.  Post the daily schedule, including breaks and lunch time. Set boundaries, matching up your work time with their class time and respecting each other’s “zones”. Be sure to honor your end time so you are not working well into the evening hours.
  • Include breaks. It may be useful to use a timer so the kids have a visual cue. Include breaks on your schedule so there is no ambiguity.  If you have younger kids, it might be helpful to leave extra snacks out where the kids can reach them and fill sippy cups with water or juice so they can access without having to interrupt you. 
  • Encourage exploration and creativity. Use this time to let kids research and explore things that really pique their interest.  Do you have a child that likes cooking? Let them look up recipes and let their inner chef come out.  Does your child like building?  Purchase items for them to create something of their choice. For the history and science inclined, many museums are offering free virtual tours for kids—perhaps you can make time for a “virtual field trip” together.

Utilize Free Resources

Countless organizations offer free resources and virtual lessons to keep kids engaged. Click here for an alphabetical list of educational companies that are offering free subscriptions.  Here are a few you might check out:

  • Mystery Science is offering their most popular lessons for free, including fifteen 3-minute mini lessons and 45 – 90 minute full length lessons with hands-on activities.
  • TED-Ed has both animated and live presentation-style video lessons by top educators.
  • Khan Academy has educational videos for children, in addition to parent guides for establishing a schedule and supporting your child’s education during school closures.
  • Mindful Schools is offering live mindfulness classes for kids on Tues, Wed & Thurs 10am PDT/1pm EDT.
  • The Kennedy Space Center has many resources available for educators. They are also holding Facebook Live presentations on Mon, Wed, and Fri at 9:30am EDT for younger children and 1pm for young adults.
  • Sternberg Museum will be hosting a Facebook Live mini-series called, “The Dome from Home”, streaming Mon – Fri at 9am and 1pm EDT. You can see live feeding and care of the animals along with a variety of natural history lessons.

Working at home with children can be a balancing act as well as an opportunity to enrich your lives together.  Also keep in mind that your child is going through a difficult transition too and emotions may run high.  Continue to keep conversation open.  Let them be upset.  Practice kindness and empathy, and call on another parent-friend when you need additional support.