Homeschooling or distancing learning doesn’t appeal to many parents. But, here we are in 2020, with many parents forced to step up to the plate and figure out how to manage their children’s education at home while also keeping up with a career and other household responsibilities.
If you are divorced or otherwise have a co-parent in the picture, distance learning can come with another set of challenges. How can you manage these new responsibilities across two households? What if both parents have different ideas or levels of commitment to distance learning?
Continue to Follow Your Parenting Plan
Even though things are different with COVID-19, your court orders probably haven’t changed. If there is any doubt about what you should or shouldn’t be doing, you should refer back to your parenting plan for guidance.
But where do you draw the line? You can’t expect a grade school child to sit at home unattended with a virtual classroom while a parent goes to work. It’s also not realistic to expect a parent to quit their job and sacrifice a means of financial support to assist with virtual learning.
These are tough issues that many parents are facing today. That said, parents should aim to work together to resolve differences and comply with local standards and health recommendations. Any temporary changes to your arrangements should be put in writing.
If one parent must stay home or has a stronger commitment to distance learning than the other or is sacrificing income, it might be time to petition the court for a change in custody or support.
Children Thrive on Consistency and Routine
As much as this is stressful for parents, don’t forget to consider how your child is dealing with distance learning. Changes are tough for kids, so parents should be mindful of potential anxiety and commit to sharing information with their children about any possible shift in plans.
Just as before COVID-19 became a reality, children perform and cope better with routine and structure. Create a separate space in each home for learning, eliminate any distractions, and give your child a schedule for virtual lessons so that they know what to expect. When you can commit to doing this at both homes instead of just one, the results will be much more positive.
Stay Involved in Your Child’s Education
Both parents should devote themselves to staying as involved as possible in their child’s education. This applies whether you are following a distance learning program or taking the traditional approach.
But, distance learning in the fall shouldn’t look like the chaotic mess that many experienced last spring. Even so, Bibb Hubbard, founder and CEO of Learning Heroes, told The New York Times, “Let the teacher be the instructor, but the parent can be the observer and the facilitator.”
But, if your ex isn’t cooperating with the additional responsibility or seems to be undermining your efforts, you may have cause to request a modification to your current agreement. Your first step should be to speak with an experienced family law attorney about your situation and options.
At AB Law, we understand that COVID-19 has brought its own unique set of challenges to families and their children. If you are facing any of these issues, contact us today for a free consultation.