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School's Out! A Guide on how to Work From Home with Kids

Posted 24 March 2020
by Diane Lynch

Australia now faces the reality that their children’s schools are closed due to the spread of the coronavirus. We don’t know when they will reopen, and parents are grappling with their options. The spread of COVID-19 is a rapidly changing situation, and we are urged to look to our government and health departments for the latest guidance. We don’t know with any certainty when schools will open again? The duration of closure is very difficult to determine as it relies on a number of different factors.

Every working parents’ situation is different and if jobs are not critical roles parents are likely to be working from home. If they are critical roles like health care professionals working parents will still be going to their workplace.

There are therefore 2 scenarios for families that both offer significant challenges.

  • Working Remotely with children at home
  • Childcare for working parents in critical roles

Working remotely with children at home following school closure

Everyone’s situation is unique in terms of the demands of their job. Remote work is not a substitute for childcare. However, it can offer working parents the ability to be more effective in getting work done without being away from work.

If a family situation allows, as well as the job, flexing one’s work hours can allow for maintaining oversight for children that are unexpectedly at home while getting work done.

Tips to make it work the best you can

  • Set realistic expectations and prepare in advance for working from home with children also at home
  • Have plenty of activities for the kids to enjoy during conference calls
  • This is a time we may need to be more flexible about screen time, or if you are opposed to too much TV, then make sure you have art activities and games available
  • Have snacks available that the kids can grab themselves
  • Have a few "new" activities items
  • Try to have educational games and toys and set time to help set up activities for children depending on their age
  • Develop a roster between both parents and any other adults in the house to spend time with the children
  • Encourage outdoor time in the garden and even possible looking after or growing their own plants
  • Positive reinforcement and education in relation to good personal hygiene and the reasons for this - reward positive action
  • Be aware of the symptoms of coronavirus in children as with adults and seek medical advice if you have concerns
  • Check out the many educational apps available on Tablets and iPads – for example, colouring book apps, jigsaw apps, etc.
  • It is really important to have open and honest conversations about expectations and your unique situation. You may prefer to work some work hours when your spouse is home and the children are being looked after or you may organise to work when the children have gone to bed
  • Subscribe to your school and education departments communication alert system, so you will have the latest information as early as possible
  • Keep on top of coronavirus news in your area and reach out to your school or health department if you have any questions.
  • Use of stress relief activities and be kind to yourself

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