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Moms who are teachers talk about homeschooling their kids while supporting other people’s children

D'Aleo family, Nikki D'Aleo

The D’Aleo family of Poughkeepsie, including Jared and Nikki, plus their two boys, Nate (left) and Owen, are figuring out today’s new normal of being all being at home for work and school, while accommodating everyone’s work, school and everyday needs.  

Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting call for social distancing, Rachel Williams of Newburgh knows how difficult life can be for parents like her who now have kids at home—she has two youngsters—while managing her work, remotely.

“I don’t have to be online all the time, so I reserve those times for my kids,” said Williams, an elementary school art teacher in Newburgh. “But the balance between supporting my preschooler and toddler is difficult at best.”

With that, she tries to understand how parents of her students are doing the same and works her school program, accordingly. As well, she and her colleagues meet online to share ideas and otherwise support each other.

“The whole idea is to help moms with several kids and those who are working remotely and are helping their kids at the same time,” she said.

Figuring out the new normal. Nikki D’Aleo of Poughkeepsie is at home with her husband, Jared, both of whom are teachers, along with their two boys, Owen a first grader, and Nate, a preschooler.

Just like everyone else, D’Aleo is trying to figure out the new normal of being a working parent who’s now working from home. This means a lot more screen time for everyone, so she’s intentional about unplugging and getting outside. 

Rachel Williams and her family share in other 
families' challenges in juggling everyone's work,
school and lifestyle needs from home. 

“I was working 12-hour days, sitting at the table, moving my kids forward and being a parent at home,” she said. “I was working while cooking dinner while getting the kids outside.”    

READ MORE: Moms help teens tackle social distancing

While she’s now managing a more reasonable schedule, D’Aleo still is trying to piecemeal everything together. And, she said, even though she has the skill set and training to teach, she’s doing a lot of it these days. The trick is being flexible with her kids’ schedules while staying true to a reasonable structure.

“Owen’s teachers have designed incredible lessons that are intuitive for the kids to navigate without parents helping the entire time,” said D’Aleo. “Now that we are a few weeks in, I’m able to get him started and check in now and then as he works. As a teacher myself, I know just how much time and effort went into creating these resources, and I’m so grateful for their commitment.”

Part of Nate’s time is spent on at-home material from daily lesson plans that are emailed from his preschool, including useful teacher-created video lessons uploaded from YouTube. 

Getting essential and emotional support. D’Aleo also keeps in touch with friends, family and colleagues through messaging and social media platforms, including FaceTime, Facebook, Instagram, online mom groups, and online work communities. She also uses them for tips on where to find needed goods, how-tos and the like.

“We’re really good about weekends,” she said. “I haven’t made them do work. We just have a weekend.”

READ MORE: 8 moms tell it like it is

Kelly Going of Glen Spey also is finding ways to attend to her 10-year-old son, Ashton, while teaching part-time from home and managing her home-based business.

“At the Homestead School we are working to meet the kids' needs on both levels,” said Going, whose students are middle graders. “For academic support we've done things like designing a daily academic tracker and a weekly academic tracker, incorporating one-on-one and small group virtual meetings (actually that serves both needs) and for Ashton I keep him on a strict school schedule, starting at 9 a.m., one hour break for lunch/recess and he works until 2:30 p.m.”

Finding balance. Going also works to provide emotional support for her the kids in her life.  

“We had numerous discussions with them about the need for balance,” Going said of her students. “We've also tried to give assignments that force them to get outside,” like reading outdoors on warm days and an in-the-works scavenger hunt. She’s also focused on service, even with kids being home-bound.

Kelly Going and her son, Ashton, spend time outdoors, as is possible.

“I think service can help kids to feel like they have a small amount of control to reach out and help others,” said Going, such as writing thank you notes, along with encouraging letters and drawings for isolated people, first responders, small business owners and elderly relatives.

Her son, she said, seems to be doing well and has said that he likes being home and getting to sleep in. But he recently had a nightmare, which some of his peers are struggling with, as well.

"On-line, parents are reaching out to each other for suggestions,” Going said. “We plan to increase the amount of exercise he's getting, and we will be extra vigilant about not having the news on where he can see it.”

Karen Maserjian Shan is Hudson Valley Parent's editor.