This is not what any of us expected, but we have an opportunity in front of us. Carrie Edwards, a special-education teacher in Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin, provides some tips on how to turn the challenge of working at home with your children in the house into a positive experience for the whole family.

Tip #1: Create Structure with a Schedule

Structure helps us feel more comfortable because we know what to expect. Our children feel the same – even more so. Search for at-home learning schedules on social media. The best schedule will be one that you and your at-home learner create together. Write the tasks of the day on individual post-it notes and let your child re-arrange them into a schedule that works for him or her. Include breaks such as quiet time, chores, and outdoor activities. The more your child is involved, the more buy-in you’ll get.

Tip #2: Embrace Flexibility

Both structure and flexibility are needed at a time like this. There will be days when schoolwork doesn’t all get done. There will be days when emotional needs supersede the to-do list. THAT’S OKAY!! Be kind to yourself and your family. Keep focusing on the big picture. Acknowledge and appreciate when your child is being flexible. We are all being asked to be flexible in innumerable ways. Think about how adaptable we will be when we resume our regular lives again!

Tip #3: Focus on Life Skills

We were busy! Sports practices, extra-curricular activities, homework, and meetings with teachers all took up time. Now that that’s all on hold, consider using this opportunity to teach some life skills. We don’t always take the time to explain our processes to our kids. Involve your child in meal preparation. Following a recipe and measuring ingredients involves reading, math, and planning skills. Younger kids could learn to tie shoes. (There are some great videos on You-tube teaching many different ways to do it.) Telling time, counting money, map skills, taxes, laundry, organizing, and cleaning are just a few ideas. These are important skills to learn.

Tip #4: Stay Connected

Find creative ways to communicate with family and friends. Many schools are finding ways to connect children with their classmates and school personnel. If you’re working from home, you still have a chance to interact with your colleagues daily. Kids are missing that chance to connect if we don’t help them out. It’s also important to check in with our children to find out how they’re feeling. We can’t take away their frustration or sadness, but we can acknowledge how they’re feeling.

Tip #5: Love your people! Embrace this opportunity

This is not what any of us expected, but we have an opportunity in front of us. Later, looking back at this time, how will we view it? We have many more hours a day to spend with our immediate families, our people. We have the chance to play more games, create more art, eat more meals together, help each other, encourage each other, watch more shows together, and have deeper conversations. Seize that opportunity! Love your people!

Carrie Edwards

Carrie Edwards, Special Education Teacher

Carrie Edwards has been a cross-categorical special education teacher for 25 years. She is most energized by finding solutions for her students that make learning easier and bring smiles to their faces. Her students are her absolute favorite part of her job and she’s missing them like crazy these days! Carrie is married to Vance Edwards, Marketing Program Director at MGIC and mom to Hailey, 22, a college senior and Trevan, 17, a high school senior. They all enjoy playing games, hiking, and traveling.