Tips for parents balancing working from home and kids' remote learning

An expert offers advice to parents navigating the flawed distance learning world while working from home.

Coleen Sullivan Image
Friday, September 18, 2020
Tips for parents balancing working from home with remote learning
An expert offers tips for parents navigating the flawed distance learning world: take the pressure off needing to be perfect and focus on the positive.

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- For the past six months, parents have been the ones learning that home schooling can be extremely tough, even with the easiest of children. But the key may be trying different approaches, until you find the one that can inspire and help even the most challenging of kids to want learn.

Tunisia Offray gets her daughter Koree ready for her second week of second grade. While it starts without snags, technology glitches tangle things up.

"I don't know what we are supposed to be doing, but we are supposed to be doing something," said Offray.

Koree is quiet and attentive when she starts her classes, but by mid-morning, the 7-year-old is like so many elementary students: distracted and disengaged.

Tunisia's 15-year-old daughter Kennedy is in 11th grade, and her schooling is a whole different story.

"It's like you have to pick your poison. Am I going to try to trust that the teenager is doing what she's supposed to be doing? Because I am so tied up with trying to help the second grader navigate and still make money, because if I don't work, we don't eat," said Offray.

Dr. Martha Heineman Pieper is a psychotherapist, author and mother of five. She knows the virtual classroom is challenging, for both parents and children. She says above all, parents should always find a way to be positive, and show they approve of what their child is doing.

"So if they are like, 'OK, I'm done, I'm finished' start by not saying 'No' but by saying 'Oh, you've done a great job until now, let's see what more you can do," said Heineman Pieper.

She offers tips for parents navigating the flawed distance learning model. Heineman Pieper says parents need to abandon perfection, and understand that everything is not always going to fall into place. She suggests parents take the pressure off themselves as well as their children.

It's important to always find something positive and highlight it. Parents should also acknowledge the losses their children are feeling and welcome all emotions.

"I know it's hard. You can't see your friends, you can't be in school, you can't have your teacher in the classroom with you, and I'm so glad you are telling me about that... it's hard for us too."

As for teenagers Dr. Heineman Pieper says parents shouldn't try to motivate. They should use distance learning as a reality check. If a child doesn't complete their assignment, let their teachers handle it like they would if they were in the classroom.

She suggests focusing on their strengths, and offer to help if they are stuck on something. Accept negative feelings and let your teen know that not everyone enjoys every subject.

For Offray, providing for her children and trying to help them in the virtual classroom has had some perks.

"I think we just have to celebrate all the small wins, and when you see your child has completed an assignment or did the project, finished the task on time, and it just reminds me that 'OK, Tunisia, you are doing something right!' You know, and I need that little bit of encouragement every single day to keep going," said Offray.