Sep 29 2020

Back to School Looks a Little Different for Kids & Parents This Year

We asked VideoAmp parents what was on their minds

It’s safe to say that this back-to-school season is unlike any other. While most of us thought working from home, homeschooling and virtual learning would just be a memory by fall of 2020…here we are, still trying to navigate it. At VideoAmp,  The People team wanted to get a better understanding of what the parents in our company are going through. So we organized and led a Focus Group for employees with school-aged kids to see what’s on their minds. Our objective was to create a safe space for parents to talk openly and connect with each other about the challenges and concerns they have around their kids entering this new school year. And most importantly, we wanted to find out how we could support them during these challenging times. Here’s some of what we learned:

Back to school? Or back to the screen? That is the question.

Return-to-school mandates and timing varies a lot by location and is still a moving target in many cases. This has created massive uncertainty. Some schools offer virtual-only classes (with plans for hybrid later), others have offered a hybrid option from the start, while some have started as hybrid and may shift to fully virtual depending on how the situation does or doesn’t improve. Basically, no one school district knows the best way to move forward and they’re still figuring it out. 

This makes life really hard for a working parent. Some parents have decided to homeschool to avoid managing uncertainty. Others parents are starting with homeschooling and may try hybrid later. There’s no one size fits all in this situation. Parents (just like everyone else) have varying degrees of comfort around health and safety during the ongoing pandemic. At the end of the day, it’s about finding what works best for each and every family unit. 

A tricky balancing act

As the situation continues to shift and legal restrictions constantly change, it is beyond stressful for parents with full-time jobs to deal with the uncertainty and lack of stability.  Not only are their children’s curriculum and education (and any future implications that may come from this situation) a top priority, many parents are also under pressure to keep productivity levels at work high. While some have found the balance, most have been faced with the choice of which gets their attention — their children or their work. That is not an easy choice. 

Coming out of these conversations with our parents, we shared some recommendations with our organization:

  • The “No-Meeting Zone”: We encourage our parents to put a “No-Meeting Zone” on their calendars by setting 12-2pm aside (for example). This allows parents to pay some undistracted attention to their schooling-from-home kids and have a proper check-in and lunch break.
  • Don’t assume…For the wider organization, don’t assume that your schedule aligns with everyone else’s. Check availability of your invitees and watch out for protected time blocks and time zone differences. If it’s unavoidable to set a meeting during another’s time block, be kind and ask for their permission to schedule over. A quick note goes a long way and could lead to a better option for everyone. 
  • Remember that time is a limited resource: Whether working with parents or not, be respectful of other people’s time. Practice meeting etiquette: join on time and end on time. Another thing to consider is if a meeting is really necessary. Before scheduling a meeting, ask yourself if you can achieve the same result with an email.

Bottom line

We’re all still figuring out the new normal, but there is no question that parents of school-aged kids have been dealt a harder hand this year. We all need to remember to tap into our empathetic sides and be understanding of all the unique situations our Vampers (or clients, or friends) are dealing with right now. For parents, there’s so much out of their control when it comes to schooling and regulations…and tiny Zoom crashers for that matter. Above all else, remember to be patient and be kind! 

Here are some of our ‘Future Vampers’ geared up for a new year! 

Michele Robertson’s (Senior Director of People Operations) Future Vamper: 10th grade
Marisa Peters’ (Chief People Officer) Future Vampers: Ford, 2nd grade & Dez, Jr Kindergarten (yes, they wear uniforms for home school!)
Vivian Herron’s (VP of Northeast Sales) Future Vamper: Lana, 2nd grade
David Ung’s (Director of Engineering) Future Vamper: Everlyn, 2nd grade
Jackie Calderon’s (VP of Program Management) Future Vamper: Maeve, 1st grade
Jackie Calderon’s (VP of Program Management) Future Vamper: LJ, 4th grade
Joel Normandin’s (Senior Director of Engineering) Future Vamper
Josh Nisenson Kids
Josh Nisenson’s (SVP of Engineering) Future Vampers: Victor 3rd grade & Andrew, Kindergarten
Eric Lakich Kids
Eric Lakich’s (VP of Engineering, Infrastructure) Future Vampers
Ravi Velmurugan’s (Software Architect) Future Vamper: Arumin, 3rd grade
Ravi Velmurugan’s (Software Architect) Future Vamper: Advith, Kindergarten