Finding Balance When Back-to-School Seems Shaky

August 11, 2020

As parents juggle work with their child’s evolving learning schedules amid the COVID-19 pandemic, here's some help navigating the stress that's likely ahead.

Coping Skills for Busy Parents

  1. Make small, measurable goals for yourself. Take time to identify your own strengths and how these can be resources for your objectives toward your overall goals. Look back at your day and identify specific tasks you accomplished.
  2. Make a list of activities that you enjoy and select one or two. Review your weekly schedule for times when it will be easiest for you to have some “you time” and set calendar reminders in your phone. Treat these like appointments and do not cancel on yourself.
  3. Take time to notice when you may be feeling overwhelmed. This might be while helping your child with schoolwork or completing tasks for your job. Step away for just a few minutes to regroup.
  4. Stay in regular communication with those around you. Being clear with your family and your co-workers can go a long way in supporting your own needs.
  5. And of course: eat well, hydrate, exercise, participate your faith/spirituality, and sleep! Reach out to your medical provider, if you need additional support.

Developing Routines for Children

  1. A designated space to complete schoolwork can help children identify with task completion. Keep this space clear of materials not related to their curriculum.
  2. Establish a routine at home. Maintain consistent sleep and wake-up times. Balance your child’s screen time. Have meals, structured learning time, independent work time and leisure time at the same times each day. Incorporate movement and exercise into breaks. Some children, especially those who have developmental delays or behavioral challenges, benefit from the use of visual schedules to help them transition between tasks. See these examples.
  3. Consider offering a small reward or privilege for completion of academic tasks. Set clear, reasonable expectations of exactly what you want your child to accomplish and by when.
  4. Find creative ways to allow children to stay in touch with friends while also maintaining social distancing. Find ways for them to play outside together safely each day. FaceTime or Zoom calls with friends can be another way to get together. If there is a game both children have access to, they can play it together virtually.
Developed by: Allison Burke, PhD; Ann Simon, MSW, LCSW; and Kimberly Twyman, MD

Tools and Resources for School at Home

Many of us never imagined we’d be coordinating our children's learning from home. As the weeks tick closer to the new school year starting, you may find that these valuable tips and resources can help you increase your organization and preparedness, while decreasing your stress:

  1. Working Parents and Homeschooling
  2. Creating a Homeschool Schedule
  3. Curriculum Resources for Homeschooling