On Sunday, January 17, the Ministry of Education announced that schools in Kigali were temporarily closing for two weeks, effective January 18, as part of the measures to contain the spread of Covid-19 which is on the rise. The next day, a cabinet meeting chaired by President Paul Kagame put the City of Kigali back into lockdown amid rising cases of Covid-19, the move also aimed at curbing the spread. This meant that all employees, except the ones in essential services, will be working from home. With cases on the rise, one cannot tell when these restrictions will be lifted. This also means that for most schools, lessons are going to go online. Both parents and children are stuck at home, doing what they are expected of, that is work for parents and study for the little ones. Helping kids to study and stay focused at home, with all the distractions at their disposal, and also being able to work and deliver to expectations can be an uphill task for parents. If it goes beyond the expected two weeks, it will be even more exhausting. The Ministry of Education encouraged parents and schools to ensure that children are facilitated to learn online so that they are not left behind by their colleagues in other parts of the country who are not affected by the directives. Below are some tips for parents to balance work and help children study online; Set up a schedule: While most parents could be accustomed to helping their children study online since the New Coronavirus outbreak, for many others, it remains difficult to balance work and teaching time. This is mainly because unlike school-going days, it becomes pretty difficult to maintain a schedule at home, meaning that waking up time and meal times might not be respected as it is done during school going days. However, in order to be able to execute both tasks of working and teaching, a schedule is very important. Set up waking up time based on the timetable the schools have shared and make sure that kids wake up early to shower and have their breakfast before classes begin. Since most schools begin online lessons at 10am, there is enough time to prepare the little ones and also set up your internet connection well ahead of time. Stay within the schedule and you will accomplish both easily. Clear pending work early: If you have some work tasks to accomplish very early and deadlines to meet or early morning meetings, do them early and by the time the children are ready to go online, you have accomplished some work tasks and eased the burden on yourself for later. This is why it is important to keep a schedule. Avoid laxity and procrastination: Working from home is likely to make you think that you have all the time in the world to accomplish the tasks at hand, or assume that children will catch up any time they log in. It could be too late by the time you realise. Do your best to avoid procrastinating on tasks you could have accomplished earlier. Don’t let what you have to do pile up. Make it fun, be easy on kids: You are not a teacher, remember that? You are expected to take it easy on the children if you want them to grasp what they are learning online. Children have a way they relate and communicate with their teachers. If you try to be hard on them, they might withdraw and refuse to learn. Mix learning and fun activities, you will be amazed how they will adapt and grasp faster. Keep school materials and work organised: If you don’t have the right materials at the right time, it will be difficult to help children learn. A good internet connection is not enough. On top of a laptop or tablet, items like pencils and sharpeners, lined paper, calculators, art supplies, pens, highlighters, sharpies, post-it notes, legal pads or notebooks, and folders should be organised and ready to use as they are at school. This helps to keep them in a school or learning environment. Take advantage of bedtimes: Accomplishing all tasks during the day can be really tiresome. Some aspects of e-learning such as reading, storytelling and recognition of certain items such as letters can be transferred to bedtime, where it can be done in a fun way. Children don’t get too tired unlike adults and can afford to answer a few questions or pay attention to stories late in the night. Just make sure it is not something too difficult for them. Tap into online resources: There are lots of free online tools and resources that you can utilise to help keep lessons and work tasks running smoothly at home. There are very many free educational videos on the internet to supplement learning and give you a break from teaching as you concentrate on work. Educative channels: For families with pay-per-view TV connections, there are many educational channels that can help keep your children busy as you concentrate on work. On DSTV for example, channels like Mindset, PBS Kids, CBeebies and Da Vinci Kids come in handy to help your child stay focussed. Create reward systems: In order to motivate kids to get their online work done, create a rewarding system at home, where those who accomplish their tasks are given some incentives, whether it is their favourite bites or small gifts and tokens that will encourage the others to also do their work. Physical activities and chores: Homeschooling is not all about logging into the computer. The children being at home is a good opportunity to teach them some chores, whether it is washing dishes, working in the garden or helping tidy up the house. Teaching them how to be responsible comes with such assignments. Interchange roles: In order for parents to successfully help their children study from home, both parents can agree on roles—if one is working, the other is helping children to study and when their turn is over, they can exchange roles. This will save both of you time.