How to Survive Teaching Online With Kids at Home

Eight real teacher tips.

Balancing Online Teaching Parenthood

I added three students to my roster this week … my children. They’re ages 5, 3, and 2. When the charter school I teach at closed due to COVID-19, I set up a home office to facilitate online lessons and set up a curriculum for my caseload of students. I also posted a new daily Mommy School schedule in the kids’ playroom. Attempting to balance online teaching with parenting during a quarantine is a unique challenge. We’ve been at it for a week now and here are 8 things I’ve learned. 

1. Own your chaos

If your kids’ heads pop into a virtual lesson, own it. If your kids are singing The Wheels on the Bus loudly (the 2-year-old), narrating a drawing about Frozen 2 (the 4-year-old), or asking you how to spell every word ever (the 5-year-old), own it. You’re a mom. Seeing you in mom-mode is good for your students. Seeing you in teacher-mode is good for your kids.

2. Set a schedule and stick to it

I know I’m preaching to the choir when it comes to schedules (teachers love a schedule). My advice: work the same hours every day. Set office hours and teaching hours for school. And, set similarly strict hours for homeschooling. Your children and students will be more comfortable knowing there is an actual schedule to follow.

3. Set up a space for teaching and a space for virtual teaching

Similar to a schedule, set yourself up with a space to teach and a space to home school. Then, you can move from one space to another without having to pack and unpack the same kitchen table every hour or so.

4. Don’t worry about being Teacher of the Year with your own kids

Hands down, my kids are more difficult to teach than a class of middle schoolers. My own kids put such different demands on me that it’s hard to take the mom hat off. So, if my kindergartener doesn’t read silently for a whole 15 minutes, and chooses to listen to stories read aloud to the 4-year-old instead, #teacherfail, #momwin. One of the key ways to balance online teaching with parenting is taking your successes where you can!

5. Notice good school habits in your own kids

I can tell the influence that my kindergarten daughter’s teachers have had on her. She can (usually) sit and read independently for 20 minutes. She’s excited about completing math puzzles. She falls into routine and class structure easily. Thank you kindergarten teachers!

6. Let it go

I mean the clean floors, the daily pick up, all of that. Let it go. Right now my makeshift office floor is doubling as a toy truck parking lot. Sometimes I have to prioritize what’s right in front of me, and this is one of those times. 

7. Choose a few online things to do each day

So far I’ve been bombarded with online field trips, nature cams, art lessons, author read alouds. I could fill my day going from one online activity to the next. We chose to tune in to the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden Home Safari Facebook Live videos each day at 3:00 PM and my kids look forward to it. Add a little discussion afterward and I’ve got myself a lesson.

8. Have fun!

To be clear, quarantine is not fun. But, when possible, do the fun stuff with your kids or your students. Make the slime. Map the neighborhood on your next walk. Play Monopoly. Have fun! And, set professional challenges too. Can you get a genuine discussion going over video conference call? Yes, you can! Or if you can’t … you can always try again tomorrow.

We’d love to hear. How are you able to balance online teaching with parenting and teaching your own kids? Come and share in our WeAreTeachers HELPLINE group on Facebook. 

Plus, ten things only teacher moms understand.

How to Survive Teaching Online With Kids at Home

Posted by Samantha Cleaver

Samantha Cleaver, PhD, teaches middle school special education and writes about her favorite thing to do, reading.

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