Be the first to know about new tools and features on Education.com.
Working remotely is a perk that many people seek when looking for job opportunities. Recently, there has been an upward trend in the number of people working from home. A Gallup survey showed that in 2016, 43 percent of Americans worked from home occasionally, up from 39 percent in 2012. Remote work gives employees flexibility, work satisfaction, and choice in their work environment. There are upsides for employers, too; the Harvard Business Review reported that one study showed working from home increases productivity by 4.4%.
With certain circumstances—such as a viral outbreak that closes local businesses and schools, bad weather days, or a sick child—you might suddenly be required to work remotely while also managing the other aspects of your life.
If you're not prepared, figuring out how to work remotely with your child at home can feel difficult and overwhelming! In the event of an extended school closure or mandated remote work, it's important to be intentional with your approach.
Here are some tips for how to work from home while having your child home with you, too:
- Set realistic and clear expectations and goals. Trying to do too much will cause more stress, so it's important to take a realistic approach when figuring out how to balance work and family. Make a plan and try to formulate your expectations of how things will go each day. You'll likely need to adjust your expectations of yourself and your family when trying to juggle everything. This might mean allowing electronics at a different time than normally fits into your routine. Be easy on yourself and your child during this transition. Finding new solutions takes time.
- Adjust your work schedule. One benefit of working remotely is sometimes being able to make your own schedule. You might consider waking up earlier than usual or working after your child goes to bed. If you can implement "quiet time" by having your child stay in their room for an hour or more finding their own things to do, this is a great time to focus on your own work. You'll know your child is safely occupied in their room, maybe even having a nap if you're lucky! Be sure to communicate with colleagues about potential challenges or schedule changes that may impact them.
- Make a family routine. A planned routine can help things run smoothly during your day. It does not need to be a strict minute-by-minute schedule of the day. Instead, consider creating a general plan for blocks or chunks of the day. Think of it as giving your child options for what they can do with their time at home while you may be occupied with emails or calls. Use this Simple Routines Checklist to inspire a plan that fits your child, schedule, and home. Some examples of activities include puzzles, reading time, arts and crafts, and online learning games.
- Take breaks. The beauty of remote work is your day allows for some flexibility, so utilize it by periodically unplugging. Step away from work to join your child in their activities, to guide them into a new activity, or to get some fresh air by taking a walk together outside. Small breaks will make your day more manageable and also give you the opportunity to connect and have some fun with your child.
- Encourage independent play. The reality is you still have to work even though you're home with your child. Independent play has numerous benefits for children, such as teaching them to be self-reliant, confident, and creative. This is the perfect opportunity to give your child opportunities to play on their own. Browse through the collection of activities on Education.com to find something suitable for your child to complete independently based on their age, skill level, and the materials you have around your house.
- Invite your child to be helpful. Kids love to be helpers, so what jobs can you give your child to complete while you work? These jobs could include things that need to get done around the house or things that might help you with your work, such as shredding papers or organizing office supplies. Create a chore list for your child at the beginning of each day, and plan a reward or celebration at the end of the day if they have completed the chores. Be sure to emphasize how much they are helping out and showing responsibility by completing the tasks. If you have a pre-reader, support their independence by using images that help them know their responsibilities. Kids love to feel that the work they do is valued and important, so a little encouragement here will go a long way!
While your situation might feel like a juggling act, just remember that it's important to roll with the punches. Keeping a good sense of humor to go along with your flexibility will help you manage your time, your work responsibilities, and your child!
I was born into a family of readers. Growing up, my mom, a special education teacher, was always reading books about new ways to make learning fun and relevant for her students. When she wasn't teaching or learning more about teaching, she would devour a science fiction or historical fiction novel. Now that my parents are retired (and have a child-free house) they enjoy reading for pleasure more than ever.
There's no doubt that as a child I knew my parents valued reading. They worked hard to show my brother and me that education can empower, fight against ignorance, and provide a window into other peoples' experiences. This knowledge has shaped my love for traveling and desire to learn about anything and everything I can. My parents' love for literacy has provided me with valuable takeaways as I parent my own child, including creating a home where books line every shelf.
If you want to create a home where your children know that reading matters, here are a few things you can start doing today.
Find books they enjoy. Reading and I didn't have a "love at first sight" type of relationship. My brother started reading well before I did, and he enjoyed everything from comics to the famous Goosebumps series. Since he was older, I'm sure my mom didn't expect to have to trick me into falling in love with reading. But it was super difficult for me, and I lacked patience to persevere through the struggle. Once she drew me in by finding books I enjoyed, the struggle was worth it!
She started reading age-appropriate Christian-romance novels to me when I was around 10. She would start by reading the books aloud, and then, right before something epic happened to the protagonist in the story (such as the protagonist's loved one finally rescuing her from impending doom), she set the book down on my nightstand and told me it was time for bed. I'm sure you can predict what happened next: I picked up the book to find out what happened! Although the book was above my reading level, I struggled through the difficult words and small text until I understood what happened next. My motivation increased my desire to persevere through the challenges.
When we seek out books that align with our children's interests, we show that we value them. To raise readers who truly love reading, children must have opportunities to read books that they want to read, not just books chosen by their parents or teachers.
Don't underestimate audiobooks. You may have come across articles that discuss if audiobooks really count as reading. According to Daniel T. Willingham, a psychologist at the University of Virginia:
"Consider why audiobooks are a good workaround for people with dyslexia: They allow listeners to get the meaning while skirting the work of decoding, that is, the translation of print on the page to words in the mind. Although decoding is serious work for beginning readers, it's automatic by high school, and no more effortful or error prone than listening. Once you've identified the words (whether by listening or reading), the same mental process comprehends the sentences and paragraphs they form."Although print and audio provide children with a different experience, audio versions of books can (and should) be used to help all kids experience the joy of being swept away into a great book. If reading print is hard for your child because they struggle with decoding or oral fluency, try listening to an audiobook together!
- Create space to read as a family. In the age of "technology is everywhere and I can't get away," be sure to create space for your family to put away all their devices and read together. Choose chapter books that you can read aloud as your children listen in sleeping bags on the ground, or encourage each family member to pick out their favorite book and read together in a comfortable space. Another idea would be to listen to an audiobook together to encourage your children to tap into their imaginations. Pause the audiobook to ask them what they are visualizing in their minds and compare and contrast their thoughts with the thoughts of other family members. The most important part about creating space to read together is that your children see you excited about reading. For extra fun, have each member of your family complete the Reading Interest Survey or have a Family Theater Night!
- Get excited about learning. If we want our children to be excited about reading, then we have to be excited. First, think about your favorite things to do as a family and create a list (traveling, going to the beach, playing with trains, searching for geckos in the yard, and so on). Next, learn more about one of the chosen topics through reading. For example, if you love to travel, learn about the place you are visiting before you go! If you are heading to Mexico City, check out books from the library about fun things to do, the culture and languages, and sightseeing musts. Extend the learning by searching for information online and printing out articles and photographs that get your children excited about the trip. Keep everything in a binder and label it "Learning About Mexico City." When we get excited about learning and show our children where to find information (such as books and online sources), they will become seekers of knowledge, too!
- Visit and support your local library. When I think about the critical role a library plays in the life of a child and the community as a whole, my mind comes to the book Dreamers by Yuyi Morales. In this beautiful book about hope and family, Yuyi takes the reader on a journey of her passage from Zalapa, Mexico, to the United States. Although she felt alone and scared at times and didn't speak English, the public library became a safe haven for her and her son. All this is to say we need to support and value the public libraries in our communities. Spend time learning about the after-school activities and summer camps, and see if they have any volunteer needs. Teach your child how to search for books by their favorite authors or things they want to learn more about. Bring the Library Exploration worksheet to the library to teach your child about genres, or Make a Library Card Holder to make their visit to the library extra special.
As a child, I loved to read. I would bring a book with me everywhere, including to the dinner table. An early reader, I devoured chapter books by the time I was five and, frankly, haven't stopped! If given the time, I would read a book a day.
When I taught kindergarten, one of the most common concerns among parents was whether their children were reading well enough. Since reading is not only one of my favorite things but also an important academic and life skill, I worked hard to instill a love of reading in my students and to support their families to implement reading strategies at home. Here are some of my tried-and-true ways to support your child's reading development at home.
- Play with the Alphabet: The alphabet is the foundation for reading. Having a solid understanding of letter identification and sounds will support your child as they learn to read. Practice identifying letters and learning letter sounds during everyday activities through games. Play Letter I Spy during walks or drives by using street signs, billboards, or license plates. Go on an alphabet hunt using materials you have around the house to spend some focused time identifying letters while having fun! During dinner prep, ask your child to think of a word that starts with the same sound as their name or a common ingredient. For example, "Sam" starts with the s sound. What other words start with the s sound? "Broccoli" starts with b sound. What else starts with the b sound? Games such as alphabet match up, alphabet memory, or the magic alphabet jar are all engaging ways to practice learning letters and letter sounds with your child.
- Put Books Everywhere: Encourage reading all the time—not just at bedtime. The more your child has access to books and practices their reading skills, the more they will improve. Bring books with you during car rides, while waiting in lines, or even to the grocery store. My older child loves to read a book at the table while I make his breakfast in the morning. This gives him a calm way to start the day and some solid reading time. The more you incorporate books into everyday activities, the more likely your child will choose to read on their own. Having a variety of reading materials around will not only support your child's interest in reading, but it will also improve their ability to read because they are being exposed to different kinds of texts.
Read Together: Read with your child everyday. When you read with your child, consider these ideas to support their literacy development.
- Read the Same Stories Over and Over Again: This supports their reading comprehension, provides exposure and practice with common sight words, and increases their comfort with retelling stories.
- Ask Questions as You Read: Support reading comprehension by asking your child about the text as you read. You can ask them the 5 W's (who, what, where, why, when), specific things about a character or event, or open-ended questions such as, "What do you think will happen next?" For independent reading, encourage your child to keep track of their questions while reading by using notes or a question tracker.
- Read Collaboratively: Read a story together by having your child echo read (repeat after you), read at the same time, or finish a sentence. This last suggestion can be particularly effective when there is repetitive text or rhyming in a story. Reading together ensures that your child is actively engaging in the text while being given support along the way.
- Track Text: Point to the words as you read them with a pointer, finger, or popsicle stick. This will help your child make sense of the text and accurately decode words as they read along with you. You can create practice using a worksheet such as this one.
- Use a Checklist: Help your child remember strategies such as reading left to right and top to bottom, and using the pictures with a handy checklist bookmark as they read.
- Model Reading: Children emulate what they see, so if they see you reading daily, they will also be more interested in reading on their own. Even young children can explore texts before knowing how to read words by looking at pictures and pointing to things they find interesting. The more your child sees you reading, the more they will see reading as an enjoyable daily activity.
- Find the Right Level: When your child is reading on their own, it is important to identify the right level of complexity to meet your child's needs. Many schools use a leveled reading program and can let you know what level your child is currently reading. You can also start at a lower level and work your way up to find the sweet spot or "just right book" for your child to read independently. To identify a just right book, your child should be able to identify five or less words that are tricky to read on any given page. If there are more than five tricky words, consider trying a different text.These online, interactive leveled books are a great place to start.
Reading is not only an important academic and life skill, it can also be an enjoyable way to unwind, learn about current events or topics of interest, and provide fun bonding for you and your family. I hope these strategies support you in reading with your child every day!
In my small hometown in Northern Massachusetts, our St. Patrick's Day parades were always a sea of green. I remember them fondly—green hats, gold coins filled with chocolate, and music filling the streets. It was an immigrant city, and during the heyday of factory mills, many Irish immigrants lived in town and worked in the factories. Given the city's history, it's no surprise that the parade was so huge!
St. Patrick's Day has become a celebration of Irish heritage and the impact Irish immigrants have made on our wonderfully diverse country. When Irish immigrants came to the United States, they brought their traditions, including the Catholic celebration of Saint Patrick.
Check out some Education.com resources that can help you educate your little learners about the holiday and fill them with Irish spirit!
Learn about the history of Saint Patrick. While there are many legends about Saint Patrick, history shows that he was an enslaved person who escaped and helped spread Catholicism in Ireland. Here are some ways that young historians can learn more about Saint Patrick and the holiday that honors his life.
- Start by reading the book St. Patrick's Day by Anne Rockwell suggested in the Colorful St. Patrick's Day lesson. Then, continue to discuss the significance of the holiday.
- Read the book St. Patrick's Day by Anne Rockwell and ask your child to think of the facts about Saint Patrick. Put your learner's knowledge and researching skills to the test with the St. Patrick's Day History crossword.
- Review the history of the holiday with older learners using the worksheet St. Patrick's Day Fun Facts. After reading the informational text about St. Patrick's Day, your learner can practice creating a cut-out Celtic knot.
Enjoy the beauty of Ireland. The country is known for its beautiful cliffs, plentiful sheep, and lush greenery. Look for books about Ireland or search online for pictures.
This activity is appropriate for all grade levels.
- Familiarize your child with the Irish countryside before having them paint a landscape using the Paint Ireland activity.
Embrace the Irish love of shamrocks. What started as a religious symbol used by Saint Patrick has become a national symbol of Ireland. The shamrock is featured prominently both throughout the island and internationally as an icon representing Irish culture.
- Focus on the little details and the legends behind Saint Patrick with this S is for Shamrock worksheet. It's a great way to practice the sh or s sound, too!
- Continue to practice with the letter S with the Trace St.Patrick's Day Numbers! worksheet.
- Your artist can get creative with these St. Patrick's Day Cards. Once they are finished, your child can write something nice to a friend.
- Up the challenge with this game about the Blarney Stone from Ireland, which uses cards with famous Irish symbols, like the shamrock. Ask players to use the worksheet Blarney! to print out cards and test their ability to see the truth or blarney (the lie) their opponents show during the game.
Celebrate St. Patrick's Day by hosting a party. Whether you plan to attend a parade or not, you can always plan a party at home. Here are some age-appropriate activities that will help your little one plan and host a gathering for family and friends.
These activities are appropriate for all grade levels. Young learners may need assistance from an adult.
- Invite your friends with cards that have limericks to get your guests into a party mood. The How to Write a Limerick worksheet has some great ideas to help your learners write their own invitations.
- Spruce up your home to set the ambiance for the party. Use some of the activities listed above and this shamrock-filled banner from the St. Patrick's Day Decor activity.
- Traditional lamb stew will add a lovely aroma to the party. Use the Irish Lamb Stew recipe and help your cooks-in-training show some hospitality.
- Bake a traditional Irish soda bread to compliment the hearty soup.
- Play a game of St. Patrick's Day Trivia. Make the game easier for little learners by posing the questions true or false or giving two options for the answer.
"May your blessings outnumber the shamrocks that grow. And may trouble avoid you wherever you go." --Irish Blessing
February was Black History Month, and while it's fantastic to see schools and organizations stepping up their educational focus about the African American experience and contributions to our country, I always like to remind people that this learning should be happening year-round.
Black history is American history. As teachers do their best to diversify their lesson plans within the parameters of the state learning standards, parents can always help educate children about black history.
I get how hard it can be—it's hard enough to teach our kids good manners and personal hygiene. Surely we can't be expected to be black history teachers, too! But if we want our children to have more than a surface knowledge of this important piece of American history, we have to be intentional about supplementing the information that our children are receiving in school.
Here are some ways to teach your children about black history even when you're swamped:
- Don't wait until Black History Month to teach your child black history. You know when you keep pushing something off and it becomes more challenging to manage? The same goes for teaching your children black history. Incorporate black-history education into your children's life year-round and you won't have to worry about trying to squeeze everything they need to know into the shortest month of the year.
- Learn more about black history yourself. The more you know about black history, the easier it is to teach. Whether you read autobiographies of African American women or watch documentaries about the contributions black people have made in this country, make learning about black history a priority for yourself even as you make it a goal for your children.
- Think locally. You don't have to travel far to give your children black-history experiences. Every single American city has been impacted in some way by African Americans. Find the black history events, organizations, and celebrations in your city and start participating.
- Watch movies about black history and/or the black experience during family movie night. The next time you sit down with your kids to watch a film, pick one that is representative of the black experience to help you open up conversations about black history in America. Movies like The Great Debaters and Remember the Titans are both entertaining and educational.
- Donate books about black history to your child's classroom. Teachers do a lot of heavy lifting when it comes to teaching our children. There is a limit to what they can teach, though, because of state standards and budget. Consider donating some books about black history to your children's classrooms to give the teachers a hand in expanding their students' knowledge about African Americans.
- Incorporate learning about black history into family vacations. Whenever my family goes on vacation, we always visit a museum or two. When you go on family vacations, be intentional about adding black-history stops on your itinerary. Whether you're visiting a stop on the Underground Railroad or going to a local African American museum in the city you're visiting, make learning about black history part of your fun.
- Explore black culture through food. You have to eat, right? Why not add some traditional African American food to your menu to spark conversations about black history? Of course you can start with soul food, but there are so many different black cultures in our country with cuisine you can explore, like Cajun, African heritage (such as soups, stews, and so on), and Jamaican.
- Listen to podcasts and books about black history while you're commuting. My children and I are in the car all the time, so I started downloading books and podcasts for us to listen to on our commute. I pick books and episodes that talk about black history, culture, and the experience as an easy way to educate my kids about all of those things. If you find that you spend a lot of time in your car, use that time wisely to learn more about black history.
The most important thing to know about teaching your children about black history when you're busy is you have to make it a priority. We all talk about wanting to make the world a better place, and the foundation of that is education and understanding. Knowing the full and complete history of our country and the experiences of all its citizens brings us all closer. Surely we can find time to make that happen, right?