Quarantine Teacher-Mom: Surviving Your New Job


As parents assume the role of quarantine teacher to their children, it’s a struggle to facilitate learning. Here is some sage advice from a former middle school teacher who is returning to the classroom, this time a virtual one, to teach her own child.


The Coronavirus quarantine has thrown us all for a loop, whether we are working from home, deemed non-essential, have extra kids at home all day, or a combination of the above.  As moms, we are trying our best to facilitate educating our kids with the materials we are provided from their teachers. The teachers miss their students. They are working tirelessly to figure out how to best serve their students from a distance. I was a middle school teacher before I had my daughter and stayed home full time. When I would have to be away from school for a day or two, it was almost impossible to put into words exactly what I needed to be done for the day. Yes, I could leave them with plans, but there was no possible way to explain every tiny detail of what each of my students needed. This is what the teachers of your children feel like. They are trying to give you information, and you are trying to execute it. There are going to be some bumps in the road. Here are some tips for staying sane in this time of substitute teaching your children.

a mom helping her child learn

  1. Make a list every day.  I am only working with one child, but this could work for multiple kids. Make a list of what they need to get done for the day and then cross out things as you go. For me, this makes everything more manageable. Even if you have big kids that have their own lists, that’s fine, still make your own. This way, you can keep track and check their work when it is done.
  2. Prioritize. You may not finish everything. I prioritize reading and math every day because those are skills that you build upon. If you skip a science or social studies lesson, that is content that can be made up later. 
  3. Take breaks. Your child is going to need breaks. They are going to need to move, get a snack, and go to the bathroom. Take your lead from your child. If they are on a roll, let them keep working. If you only made it through one paper and they are just not having it, switch subjects or take a movement break. GoNoodle is a great YouTube channel and App that can get your child moving and give them an excellent brain break.
  4. Pick your battles. If you are anything like me, you have at least one strong-willed child that is a lot like yourself. My daughter and I butt heads because we are so much alike. This makes it almost impossible to teach her one-on-one. So, pick your battles. If there is an assignment that just isn’t working for you two, move on. Don’t ruin your day because of it. You are all stuck in one house, some of you are still working full time and trying to be a quarantine teacher to your child. 
  5. Switch Parents/Helpers. When my daughter and I are butting heads on her school work, I sometimes have her set it aside until my husband gets home from work, or if he’s home, we simply switch. Sometimes a fresh person to help is all that is needed. On the third day of the quarantine before shelter-in-place in Illinois, one of our middle school teachers came over to my house to hang out for the day. My daughter did more work in 5 minutes for Hannah than I could get her to do in an hour. Sometimes they just need someone new. One of my friends shared that her kids FaceTimed with aunts, uncles, and grandparents to help. That is also a great way for them to spend time with loved ones that they can’t see during this time.

Quarantine teacher is not a job title that any of us asked for, but it’s an essential one. Even if you feel unqualified, it is important to remember that whenever our children do return to school, they will all be returning to a place where teachers will assess, course correct, and pick up the pieces. That also may be a rocky road, but you and the teachers have only the best intentions for your child and you will work through getting everyone back on track together. 

Stay home and stay safe.