Tips for home-schooling working parents

Parents have been hit hard by lockdown, with many attempting to home school their children whilst work a full time job.  Parents are tired and frazzled, with many working early mornings and late evenings to make up for home school time which means precious little downtime to relax and recover. Children may be becoming bored and listless, fed up with their toys, the local park and missing their friends.

In this article LawCare share some tips on how to keep going.

Focus on the positives

Easier said than done, but try to focus on the good times you are all having together rather than the bad. We will probably never have time like this again with our children, so try and make it as happy and relaxed as you can as their emotions and behaviour will reflect yours. That said, don’t feel guilty if you have a bad day, we are all riding a wave of emotions at the moment and you can’t win them all!

Use positive language

Tell your children what you want them to do, rather than what you don’t want. Parenting experts agree that using positive rather than negative language has a higher success rate. So ‘Don’t mess around’ becomes ‘I wonder if you can show me how you can sit nicely?’ Of course it doesn’t always work, but it means you don’t end the day feeling guilty for snapping and shouting.

Don’t worry too much about schoolwork

Teachers agree that there is no need to replicate a classroom environment with your child or complete every piece of work that the school sends. Just do your best, and if you are too busy or your child is not in the mood to learn come back to it later or move on. They will catch up quickly when they are back at school.

Ignore the traditional school day

You don’t need to stick to school work during the hours of 9am-3pm. Some of us might have more time first thing in the morning, after dinner, or at the weekend. Teenagers are notoriously grumpy in the morning and may prefer to start work later in the day. The same applies to work - do what works for you and your family and don’t get hung up on traditional working hours.

Usual rules need not apply

Accept that you might need to let some rules slide during this period, such as how much screen time your child is allowed  on a daily basis. This is an unprecedented time and we all need to get through it as best we can.

Divide and conquer

If you are in a two parent household work in shifts or split the day if possible so you can have periods to solidly focus on your work whilst your partner looks after the kids. Remember its quality not quantity when it comes to work, you might find you can fit more into three uninterrupted hours at home than you did working a whole day in the office.

Let the kids choose

Let your children come up with ideas of what they want to do at school today – perhaps have a home cinema where they make the posters, tickets and sell popcorn, or perhaps they’d like to come up with a treasure hunt for you to do or research a particular topic they are interested in.

Use technology

Putting your kids on a zoom call with their classmates, getting them to watch a history video online, or asking the grandparents to remotely teach a lesson or read to the children can buy you a precious half an hour here and there. If you have relatives and friends you can ask for help do – they would probably love to talk to children for half an hour whilst you answer your emails.

Let them be bored

Resist the urge to spend the whole day coming up with activities – you’ll be exhausted. If you can get past the initial ‘I’m bored’ moans your children will eventually come up with their own ideas.

Be honest and look after yourself

Remember the phrase ‘you can’t pour from an empty cup’.  If you run yourself ragged trying to home school, work, cook, clean you will be at risk of burn out. Make sure you have time for you, lower your standards and cut some corners if you need to make time to do this whether that’s skipping a day of school, taking some annual leave off work, or ordering a takeaway. Be honest with your employer if you are struggling to cope – they might be able to suggest some ways in which they can help.

If you are finding things difficult and need to talk, LawCare can help. We provide emotional support to all legal professionals, support staff and their families. You can call our confidential helpline on 0800 279 6888, email us at [email protected]  or access webchat and other resources at  

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