Nothing is stressing out parents more right now than the uncertainty around school reopenings. While many schools are now meeting in-person (with precautions), the vast majority are still doing either virtual learning or some sort of hybrid model. While a few parents relish this time with their families, the majority of parents teaching their kids feel unprepared and underserved.
To put this in perspective: Consider that there are 30.5 millions U.S. families with children under the age of 18 where at least one parent is working, according to data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. A separate study by Microsoft found that, of the parents surveyed, 54% said that it’s been difficult balancing household demands while working from home. If those numbers are even close to right, there are over 16 million parents struggling to balance home life and work life today!
To those parents: We feel you! We understand how hard it is to deal with the interruptions, learn the new technologies, manage your kids’ time and your own, and so on. To help parents teaching kids at home, we’ve created a number of courses that families might be able to benefit from during all those homeschooling hours.
If your employer was already working with an eLearning company, like ej4, you would already have access to a full library including these kinds of microlearning courses. So, if any of these courses sound like they would be helpful, tell your employer!
At-Home Courses for Student (and Parent) Success:
- Study Skills
- Common Time Management Problems
- The Myth of Multitasking
One of the simplest yet most-easily overlooked skills to have, whether remote learning or teaching, is that of note-taking. Research suggests that most people forget about 50% of everything that happens within 24 hours of it happening. After two weeks, the amount that is forgotten shoots up to 80%. And within one month, people will have forgotten 95% of what happened in any given event. Note-taking is a critical skill precisely because our ability to remember important details is so fleeting. (For more on the science here, see my article on the Ebbinghaus Forgetting Curve.)
Because note-taking is a skill, it, like any other skill, can be learned, practiced, and improved. For example, many students take “linear” notes, because that is how we are taught to write. But a page of notes can become much more effective when a space for summary notes (a “summary box”) is provided. Taking this a step further, some people use a four-part “quadrant” method of note-taking, separating out content, questions, references, and to-do action items as they go.
Our content library has several videos with ideas and tips for note-taking, including the two I just mentioned. Whatever methods you and your family use, it will take some practice to be able to do it quickly—but once learned, these note-taking methods can greatly increase your ability to remember and recall key details.
Being able to take notes is one thing, but studying from those notes effectively is another skill entirely. Researchers have found again and again (and again) that most students do not know how to study effectively.
For example, most students will highlight as they read, or take notes, and then review what they’ve highlighted or written down. This is an ineffective way to study, however, because it is too easy to just mindlessly read or repeat a bit of information without thinking deeply about what is being reviewed.
Instead, students should work with the information: Create flashcards, administer a self-quiz, or come up with an acronym to help them memorize lists. These are only a few of the strategies outlined in our course “How to Study Effectively,” which is just one course in our series on study skills. The series also has helpful videos on when and where to study, and how to effectively study as a group.
Common Time-Management Problems
Parents teaching kids at home are often shocked at how poor their kids’ time management skills are. Then again, most of us have some time management issues to work through ourselves. When was the last time you procrastinated on a project?
In fact, procrastination is one of the most common time-management issues, both for students and for adults. A whopping 95% of the population procrastinates at some time or other, and 50% of students (20% of the general population) are considered “chronic” or “problematic” procrastinators.
This problem can be even worse when learning and working from home. Just how do you fight procrastination when there’s that fun-looking Playstation, just sitting right there in the family room?
Then there’s the opposite problem: Precrastination. This is the phenomenon where a person will try to hurry up and finish a task as soon as possible—even when that task requires more effort, or is of lower importance. Precrastination might make us feel good about ticking a box on our to-do list, but we often miss out on finding more efficient ways of doing things and managing our day.
If members of your family struggle with either issue, procrastination or precrastination, we have short courses on both that can help. Sometimes, just learning about the phenomenon, understanding why it happens and how it is causing problems, can be enough to kickstart behavioral change.
The Myth of Multitasking
OK, parents—really, this one's for you. Parents teaching their children while trying to get work done often fall into the trap of trying to multi-task throughout their day. Multitasking is actually something you should avoid, or else you risk doing all your tasks poorly. Sure, you might feel as if you can (and should) multitask to fit in everything you need to do in a given day—but how often does that leave you feeling burned out? Or pulled in 50 different directions?
The truth is that there is no such thing as multitasking, at least not in the way that matters to being productive. Most tasks take a certain amount of attention and focus, and our brains simply were not designed to split their attention or focus. (If anything, they ping back-and-forth between tasks, which is a very inefficient way to tackle a task!)
Our course on multitasking provides a great explanation of this, showing how your brain really works—and how you can actually be productive when there are competing demands on your time.
There’s Much More Parents and Professionals Can Use, Too
The above highlights just a small fraction of courses that parents might find helpful when teaching kids at home (and balancing that with their own work day). Our library has a number of other courses that can be helpful during this time as well:
- Employee Health and Safety courses. Do you have the right ergonomic setup for your home office to avoid injury? Are you getting the right amount of sleep? Are you paying attention to mental health? Our health and safety courses have lots of relevant content for keeping yourself both mentally and physically healthy, even if you are at home most of the day.
- Professional Development courses. Who knows what the future holds? While job security is evaporating for some roles, there are opportunities for advancement in others. Now is a good time to give yourself the training you will need to advance your career. Take the time you would usually spend in your morning commute to learn how to use Microsoft Excel better, brush up on your selling skills, or discover some new tips to communicate more effectively.
- Leadership tracks. Perhaps you are looking for more of a leadership role at your company. Many companies have a specific development program or leadership track for cultivating the next generation of leaders. We provide a number of courses for budding leaders, on topics as diverse as strategic leadership, leadership and power, followership, and even mistakes that leaders frequently make.
Asking for More Learning Opportunities
If your company was working with a company like ej4 already, you’d already have these courses, and more, at your fingertips. So why make this happen?
Our library has especially been a value to those working at home. The microlearning videos we provide are short, and can be accessed at any time, anywhere there is an internet connection—via phone, tablet, or computer. Our content is updated every month, so it is guaranteed to be up-to-date and relevant.
So, if you want better training from your employer, use your voice. Ask for it. If companies understand that this kind of easily accessible learning is a benefit that employees actually want, they are much more likely to offer it as a way to retain their employees—including you!
- How to Fight the Ebbinghaus Forgetting Curve (applies to both children and adults!)
- Communication Skills Training in a World of Emojis, YOLO, and Ghosting (has great tips for family communication across generations)
- Concern for Employee Health at Home (A nice list of health issues/concerns to be aware of while working from home)