An Ignite Blog by:
Natasha Schamberger, CPA
KSCPA CEO & President
Several of us are uncertain what the back to school season will look like. Some may already know it will start remotely, which is a bit daunting if you are still haunted by the memory of what it was like in the spring. Once my district announced school would be 100% virtual for at least the first 6 weeks in the fall, I was immediately overwhelmed. I needed a game-plan so I could remain productive at work, while still helping my children through the unknown territory of virtual school. If you can work from home, here is a systematic approach to help your home team win the virtual school season.
Leading a team has similar qualities to parenting children. Basically, as parents, we are the leaders of our family unit. By setting our mindset to that of a leader and asking, “How can I be an adaptive leader in this situation?”, we have an opportunity to successfully merge work and personal life. We can do this while teaching our children valuable skills and practicing our own leadership skills along the way. If you already manage a team at work, you have acquired another team of rising stars, your children! For those not already managing a team, congrats…you’ve just been promoted to a supervisory role without additional pay. Once I stopped thinking of my children’s virtual schooling as a distraction from my important work and instead put it on a united and equal playing field, I was ready to take on the leadership challenge and lead my new “team” to victory!
Team Building & Culture
As leaders of our new “team”, we can be deliberate in forming positive leadership habits. Children are easily influenced by our words and actions so, set the positive “tone at the top” and instill a sense of adventure as you navigate these uncharted waters together.
Accountability and Expectations
When it comes to developing our “team”, we must empower our children to be resourceful on their own, a valuable lifelong skill. Encourage and give tips on how they can find answers themselves and how to contact the teacher if they remain stuck. As parents, we tend to micromanage. Instead, consider scheduling blocks of time on your work calendar specifically for checking in with your child, monitoring progress, and offering guidance. Start with three 15-20 minutes blocks throughout the day and adjust as needed from there. Be sure to have conversations with your manager and co-workers so they are aware and comfortable with your schedule. By coordinating your work schedule with your child’s virtual learning schedule, questions can be reserved for these specific time blocks and you will feel more in control of your day. It will be important that you treat these blocks of time with the same respect as you would any other meeting on your calendar. Hold teachers accountable for their role in supporting your child’s learning but balance it with empathy – the teacher is also adjusting to a new environment. Ask questions to understand and focus on progress, not perfection.
Must-haves For Remote Learning
Create a designated workspace and have fun personalizing it with items of their choice (e.g. family photo, pencil holder, cool drink coaster). Ensure you have the right equipment and supplies such as a computer/iPad, internet, headset with mic, comfortable chair, notebooks, pencils, etc. You can even add in a small plant for increased oxygen levels in the room. The excitement for virtual school increased when my girls and I set up their personalized desk space, separate from my own workspace.
Consider these habits that will expand your child’s energy and focus for peak performance!
- Begin and end the school day with a short “walk to school” outside. This creates a defined fresh start and end to the school day.
- Eat for brainpower and choose nutritious foods for breakfast, minimizing energy zappers such as sugary cereal and pastries. What we eat impacts mood, energy levels, and concentration. Optimize your kid’s breakfast with berries, oatmeal, eggs, fruit with all-natural peanut butter, avocados, or greens. My girls and I love a morning smoothie with frozen blueberries, banana, almond milk (unsweetened), spinach, peanut butter, and a dash of cinnamon.
- Celebrate accomplishments each day by asking your children, “What went well today?” and continuously improve by asking, “What can we do better tomorrow?”.
- Have some fun! Explore ways to ramp up the fun factor, a natural motivator. Consider silly fake glasses for you both to wear during your check-ins.
Do you have additional tips to share? Together we can make this a positive experience for ourselves and for our team of amazing children. Be the leader they need.
Printed with permission. The Ignite blog is an official publication of the Kansas Society of CPAs, Copyright 2020.