As a new school year approaches, schools across the country struggle with how to safely educate their students. Some districts will attempt traditional, in-person instruction. Others will begin the semester with distance learning. And still others offer parents the choice of traditional instruction OR distance learning. It’s highly likely that at some point this year, children will receive instruction at home. So how is a busy attorney, paralegal, or court reporter to balance professional demands with building blocks or algebra remediation? CompuScripts offers these suggestions to make distance learning work with your work.
In order to make distance learning work with your work, each party needs agency. The teacher is in charge of instruction. Parents are in charge of their own work while supporting the teacher’s instruction. So how do children become invested in the process? The Kern County California School Supervisor suggests helping them create their own goals and schedules. Schedules should include independent learning time, “office hours” with parents to ask questions, and time for physical activity. The last piece of advice from Kern County? “Acknowledge this is not an ideal situation for anyone, and give yourself permission to be flexible.”
Attorneys don’t conduct business from break rooms, and children shouldn’t conduct schoolwork from playrooms. Linda Carling, Ed.D of the John Hopkins School of Education stresses the importance of the place and atmosphere from which children work. “Where possible,” she says, “reduce distractions when your child is completing schoolwork. This includes noise, as well as visual noise or clutter. A designated workspace that is comfortable for your child will be helpful.” And make sure that your children have all the supplies they need – tablets or textbooks, crayons or calculators – close at hand when they begin their learning day.
Writing a legal brief can be difficult when children are struggling to complete their schoolwork. If they need more support to meet their goals, find a “virtual” helper. Forbes.com reports that grandparents may have the time and the inclination to regularly assist their grandchildren via videoconference platforms such as Zoom. This solution allows parents to meet their own professional goals and deadlines. And if a child needs particular help with a subject, the Khan Academy is a nonprofit organization offering free online courses, lessons, and practice for K-12 students in math, science, the humanities, and more.
Are you and the kids having a productive day? If they are helping to make distance learning work, don’t let that go unnoticed. Reward them – and yourself – with a break. In her article “Tips for Managing Distance Learning without Losing Your Mind,” Ana Connery writes, “Break up the day with moments of fun, like taking a walk at lunch or enjoying a reading session outside in the backyard when the weather is nice. These little swaps of space and time can do wonders to get kids to cooperate more easily.”
Finally, be sure to monitor your family’s mental health. Dr. Karen Lake, Ph.D, of Lake Psychological Services in Columbia, South Carolina, reports an uptick in stress-related symptoms in children as the pandemic continues. “While some kids adjusted well in the spring to online classes and reduced contact with their teachers and peers, others really struggled with learning the material, organizing their time to get their work complete, and missing the social time with their friends,” she says. “It is certainly understandable that parents who are trying to work while monitoring their children at home have increased stress as well.”
According to Dr. Lake, stress may manifest itself differently in different family members. Some kids may become more irritable and argumentative. Others may internalize their feelings and become more quiet or apathetic about things they used to enjoy. The youngest may revert to self-soothing behaviors, such as thumb-sucking. Parents may also become irritable, isolating more than usual, vegging in front of the television, or drinking too much.
Dr. Lake reminds parents that monitoring the family’s collective mental health is important as they try to make distance learning work. “Sometimes,” she says, “we become so involved in getting through difficult times that we don’t notice changes in our own or our children’s behavior. It can help to have regular family time together where everyone can openly share their thoughts and feelings.”
Finally, if you are trying to make distance learning work with your work, call the professionals. If you are an attorney with questions about your first web conference deposition, contact CompuScripts. We can schedule virtual training to bring you up to speed. We also continue to schedule court reporters around the country for in-person and web conference depositions. CompuScripts is ready to help you make distance learning work for your children and your practice.