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  • Writer's pictureJennifer Larson

Teachable Moments on School Quarantine Days

Updated: Jul 30, 2022

Remote work is likely here to stay, in some form or other. The idea of leaving your home every day to commute to an office is quickly becoming a symbol of pre-pandemic times. According to Global Workplace Analytics, 82% of U.S. employees want to work from home at least some of the time when the pandemic is over.

Companies see the benefits too. With a mix of in-person and remote workers, leaders can tap into a much larger talent pool without being limited by geography. Operating expenses decline with fewer personnel to support at a physical office. And less people commuting to work every day is better for the environment.

Corporate training programs are also seeing the perks of a more distributed, remote workforce. In fact, a blog on the eLearning Industry website goes so far as to state why classroom training is an outdated model for corporate training -

“Many find it tedious and boring to have to sit in a classroom and listen to someone lecture them. When employees aren’t engaged, they won’t learn as they should. Employees now want a more modern learning experience that includes videos, articles, podcasts, and other forms of digital content.”

The irony in all this? While many parents experience first-hand the benefits of working remotely, we continue to demand full-time, in-person learning for our kids. Why the disconnect? If the majority of us are destined to some kind of hybrid work-from-home model in the future, shouldn’t we be exposing our kids to that model now?

Skills for Success in a Remote Work Environment

Our September 11 blog highlighted a recent McKinsey report which identified 56 foundational skills they believe will help individuals be successful in our future world of work. So, let’s take that one step farther. What skills are required to ensure success in a remote work environment?

The past year we’ve seen a number of articles dedicated to the topic of remote work. The sudden and unexpected switch we faced in March 2020 led to an outpouring of advice ranging from how to set up a home office to tips on hosting productive virtual meetings.

The challenge of staying motivated while being physically separated from your colleagues is not something many of us had experienced. And successful remote workers require a unique set of skills - time management, digital literacy, written communication, collaboration, focus, adaptability and empathy.

While our workforce continues to explore best practices of remote work, it seems logical we would also explore ways we could use remote learning opportunities to prepare our kids for a future world of remote work.

Making the Most of Quarantine Days

We had high hopes that back to school 2021 would resemble those pre-pandemic years when kids showed up to school every day enthusiastically greeting their friends and teachers without worrying about germs and getting someone sick. But as the end of summer approached, it was obvious we were far from the end of the pandemic and this would be another challenging start to a school year.

For our in-person learners, the reality of spending a week or two in quarantine this year is highly likely. But let’s face it, we had a lot of practice last year!

So how can we make the most of our quarantine days this year? Perhaps we focus on how these days give our kids an opportunity to experience what their future hybrid work environment might look like.

Our “job” as kids is to go to school. We have teachers (leaders) who help us set goals and guide us through learning experiences. We have assignments, projects and deadlines. And we have friends (colleagues) whom we collaborate with or grab lunch with.

So, here’s 5 ways you can use those dreaded quarantine days to help your kids prepare for their future world of work:

Know the Rules

What are the expectations from your school regarding how remote learning is conducted during quarantines? Are there scheduled check-ins with classmates or teachers? Or perhaps there are attendance policies that need to be followed? These processes aren’t much different than the “active” notification I turn on in Slack when I’m at my desk so my co-workers know I’m available.

Design Your Workstation

I expect most of our kids are working on laptops or chromebooks without separate monitors or expensive docking stations. Finding a quiet space is likely one of the biggest challenges (especially with siblings or pets around). But if we were to encourage our kids to create a learning space that resembled their office of the future, what would that look like? This Computerworld article shares a few practical tips including monitor height, chairs and lighting for the best productivity.

Establish a Routine

One of the huge advantages of working remotely is having more flexibility in your daily schedule, but that can also lead to a lack of productivity if you don’t create some routines. Time management is an important skill for kids to learn and there are numerous resources for even our youngest learners which help them create routines and schedules. Check out these schedule templates created by Khan Academy.

Increase Your Digital Literacy

Technology is evolving at a rapid pace and being digitally literate in the future will require employees to understand how digital systems work, how to collaborate in this digital world and how to analyze data in a myriad of ways. There are numerous programs available for kids of all ages to begin developing their digital literacy skills - coding classes, building a website, learning how social media is used in business, understanding cybersecurity and more. I expect many kids are already well versed in remote collaboration via their gaming systems!

Take Care of Yourself

One of the biggest challenges of learning (or working) remotely is a lack of visual cues to break up the day. There is no school bell ringing to remind you to get out of your chair and walk to the next classroom. There’s often no PE, art or music class. And we miss out on lunch with friends.

While the introverts of the world might be screaming “hallelujah,” we still have a basic human need for socialization, exercise and some downtime. Talk to your kids about taking breaks during the day - pencil them into their daily schedule. Find time to exercise each day, even if it’s a short walk around the block. And make an effort to reach out to friends for a brief call or virtual lunch.

Join the Discussion

These are challenging times and yet we see an opportunity to make even the dreaded days of quarantine a learning opportunity for our kids. What will the future world of work look like for our kids? With some form of remote work here to stay, how can we best prepare our kids for the road ahead?

About the Author

Jennifer Larson is an entrepreneur, charter school founder and mother to four children. Connect with her @startupjen.

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