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Tips and resources for parents working from home

The novel coronavirus has forced many schools to close and have many people working from home. This means parents are playing the role of employee and teacher.

With only essential businesses open, a lot more people are working from home than normal. And our kids are home, too, with many of them going to school online.

So how do you make the most out of working from home, while also playing the role of teacher and parent?

Sara Koprowski is the director of curriculum and instruction for Keller ISD and a mom. She’s juggling like the rest of us and said there are four tricks to making this work.

1. Realistic work time expectations that fits the needs of your child 

  • Don’t focus on “re-creating” school or schedules. It will look different at home.
  • This may be 1 to 2 hours broken up over the course of one day for an elementary age student 
  • A high school student may be able to maintain 5 to 6 hours of work

2. Read, Read, Read

  • Kids are coming out of an environment that is saturated with language 
  • If nothing else, provide your child exposure to books, conversation and new vocabulary. This could be a walk around the yard naming things that you see or going on a house hunt for things that begin with a certain letter. 

3. Be Ready 

  • Prepare the evening before for your children's learning. 
  • Get supplies out they may need. Help them set up their work environment. 
  • Let your children help decide their “work rewards and free time” choices. This can be a chance for you to grant them some TV time or tech time after they complete a task. 

4. Remembering Grace 

Give yourself, children and teachers grace. Many of us woke up one morning and were suddenly a teacher. We are all learning together. Take each day a step at a time. 

Reach out to your child’s teacher when you need assistance or feel overwhelmed. Remember we are still working and here for you! 

Other parents offer these suggestions:

Create schedules

As best you can, create schedules for your children and your career. Try to keep the same start time and hold your children accountable for the time they need to spend on school work.

That also means creating a start time for your work. 

Make sure your kids know when you will be holding that conference call and during that time not to bother you. If they do drop in, relax. You are not alone in this and most work places understand that this is an overwhelming, unprecedented challenge. 

If you have a spouse or significant other coordinate with them so you can share those responsibilities.

Carve out breaks

Everyone needs a break every now and then, including you and your kids. Whether it’s a quick 10 minute walk outside to get some fresh air or walking to the mailbox, make sure to take a break from your work and your kid responsibilities.

Great apps and websites that can help expand your kids knowledge while at home:

The Omni Calculator Project is a community of scientists and researchers that built 1000 math and physics calculators to make homeschooling less challenging for parents and kids.

Genius Scan – allows you to scan documents, including classwork and pictures then upload them to an email or Dropbox or Google Drive.

The Great Courses Plus is a subscription-based video-on-demand service with more than 6,000 courses taught by professors. Learn everything from economics to health to math and science. There is even a category for young learners.

These sites are offering free subscriptions to parents during this time.

Scholastic offers lessons from PreK through 9th grade. These include all kinds of lessons and even some virtual museum tours. It is chock full of great information for kids of any age. 

PBS Kids is offering a new weekday newsletter with activities and tips to help kids play and learn at home.

Club Sci Kidz is a great site to teach kids about science and technology. The best part of this site is the experiments – everything from creating a contraption to drop an egg safely from a balcony to growing crystals.

Mystery Science provides all kinds of science lessons for kids complete with experiments. Find great lessons for kindergarten through fifth grade.

Beanstalk is offering its interactive classes for younger kids free of charge. These include lessons about everything from how bubbles work to life on a farm.

Scratch is another great resource created by MIT. Want to teach your kid to code? You should check out this site. Scratch is also an app that you can use on your phone. It allows children to program and share interactive media, including stories, games and animation, with people from all over the world. There is a junior version for kids ages 5 to 7 too.

Khan Academy is offering free livestream lessons during the COVID-19 crisis at 2 p.m. CT every day. 

This site offers free lessons in math, science and humanities from kindergarten through the early years of college. There are also exercises, quizzes, and instructional videos to help students learn and master skills. They will get immediate feedback and encouragement.

Duolingo is a site that has always been free and teaches kids different languages. 

Math Games is another always free site that offers all kinds of fun math skills tests for 1st through 8th grade.

Prodigy is a free site that turns math into a video game and allows kids to challenge and compete against their friends. Parents can also get updates on your child’s progress. 

Circletime hosts lessons for kids up to age 6. These are interactive, creative, and fun, and incorporate everything from fitness to food.

Bamboo works with Alexa and offers all kinds of interactive lessons in math, listening and comprehension, and social studies. You can also track your child’s progress. 

TedEd is geared toward students and offers great material that you expect from the adult version, only in lesson form. You can even customize lessons for your kids.

Read Together Be Together is bringing celebrities together to read some of the most popular Penguin Random House books. They host storytime everyday live at 1 p.m. CT with celebrities like Jennifer Garner.

Virtual Tours

Then check out these virtual museum tours.

Google has partnered with some of the best museums in the world, including:

The Guggenheim 

The British Museum in London

The National Air and Space Museum where you can take a virtual tour inside the space shuttle Discovery.

You can take virtual tours of some of the most famous works of art -- the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC even has an exhibit featuring early American fashion.

Check out the zoos

Even though zoos and aquariums across the country have closed to the public, many of them still offer live web cams. These streams can be a fun way to learn from home.

Zoos and aquariums with livestreams: