How to work from home with kids during Covid-19

by Anita Naik

Finding a happy medium between working from home, and ensuring your children manage their remote learning isn't easy, which is why it takes a range of skills to get it right. Here's what you need to know.

Have a designated work area

Hot-desking at home just doesn't work. If you want to get into work mode, you need a designated work area, in the same way, that your child needs a study area. Your space should be easy to access, be customised to your needs (equipment-wise), and have agreed on boundaries around it. For instance, the family should know that this is your area between the hours of X and Y and that no-one can take equipment from your desk without asking.

Don't work in the same area as your child

As tempting as it is to work in the same room as your child, this won't work for several reasons; firstly children don't know the rules around working life so are bound to annoy you. Secondly, your child will have their way of studying, and it's likely not to meet your standards. Constantly policing them is also distracting for you and frustrating for them. Allow them their own space and autonomy, and they will get their tasks done.

Let an expert help you both

The vast majority of us are not teachers, which means while we can help with some subject areas and explain specific methods, we don't always have the right skills or processes to help our children. If you and your child are always at loggerheads over their work, it can help both of you to bring an expert in.

This could be a YouTube vlogger (there are several teacher channels aimed at all key stages and subjects), online resources of which there are plenty or the help of an online tutor. This will take the pressure off a charged situation and allow your relationship to move back to one of parent and child.

Plan the day

To work more efficiently, it also pays to get your critical work tasks done at the start of the day. It's only when you can focus with undivided attention for at least 10-15 minutes that you can get into the flow state, where you'll be able to be productive. Accessing this early then allows you to be able to switch your focus between work and helping your kids for the rest of the day.

Be clear about what you're going to work on

When you are not entirely clear about what you're going to work on, it's hard to be productive. You'll either switch between multiple different tasks too quickly or get distracted. To help pick one specific job that you're going to work on each day and stick to it.

This technique also works well for students. Rather than have them structure their day as they would at school with a different topic every hour, have them focus on one area per day with clear goals and outcomes.

Be realistic about work and study hours

It's tough to work from home so you have to be realistic about the hours you can work while your kids are home. If work or studying takes precedence, it can lead to life at home becoming too overwhelming for everyone, especially your children.

To ease this, set aside time to chat and listen to each other's concerns each day. Think about what's working and allow everyone to have a voice in what's happening. It also pays to keep to a flexible routine where you all check-in multiple times a day, perhaps around lunchtime, dinnertime and a break mid-morning. This way, you keep a connection going and avoid any boredom related behaviours.