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When Catastrophe Strikes as a Virtual Schooling Parent

Sometimes, Mama has to come to the rescue!
Sometimes, Mama has to come to the rescue!
Emily L. Goodman

When you’re a virtual schooling parent, there are going to be days when nothing goes according to schedule. Your high-needs child will have a meltdown at the worst possible moment. Your toddler will get into the cabinets and turn your kitchen into a disaster area. Or it might be a house problem: loss of power, loss of internet connection, or something else that turns your household upside down. If your child were in a brick and mortar school, this would have little or no impact on their education. Since they’re at home with you, the ups and downs of the day impact them just as much as they impact you.

That’s why you have to plan for those days. Take for granted that they will come. Throughout your virtual schooling career, there will be days when things turn completely upside down and nothing goes according to plan.

Not “might be.” “Will be.” Know that they are coming. Those days happen in brick and mortar schools, too: substitutes, and assemblies, and drills, and other bits of chaos that shake up the entire schedule. Teachers have plans in place for those eventualities (and quickly learn to roll with the punches, because there are often more days when things go against the plan than days that things go entirely according to plan). As a learning coach, you should, too.

Know what you’ll do in the event of a power outage. Take a day off and reschedule for later? Do extra work the rest of the week? Work offline as much as possible, and record the lessons later? You might print a novel unit and keep it in your back pocket for the day when you can’t get online, for whatever reason, and need the material most.

Know what you’ll do if you’re sick or unavailable. Again, do you take the day off and make it up later? Do you have a plan for who will keep your children if you’re unable to do it? What if you have a doctor’s appointment, a dentist appointment, or some other activity that can’t be rescheduled? Do they go with you, or do you leave them somewhere else? Are they expected to complete work while you’re gone?

How much help are they expected to provide? If you have a mess to clean up, do you pull your kids off of their schoolwork? What about out of their class connect session? How much chaos must be taking place before you need their help? What about before it changes the amount of work they need to complete in a day? Keep in mind that you do have supplemental hours that can be used for these purposes; but there are also only so many supplemental hours in a week.

What about guests? Because you’re at home all day, it will be fairly common for other people to ask you to babysit. An extra kid isn’t a problem, but it can completely change the course of your day. Do you allow your children to play with this visitor, or are they expected to continue with their regular schedule? Is it worth listening to some class connect recordings for playtime and socialization, or are they expected to continue on with their day as usual, with playtime only when they are done? Making sure that this is outlined in advance will go a long way toward making sure that your child is prepared for whatever comes.