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This Is What It's Like to Cowork With a Kindergartener

Since the pandemic began, parents have been juggling their day-to-day work while navigating virtual learning with their kids. Here, Kori Hamner (Memphis '07) shares how she's adjusted to a new coworker: her daughter.

Kori Hamner and Her Daughter Working at the Same Table

By Kori Hamner

January 13, 2021

For everyone, this past year has come with challenges ranging from health to finances. For me, one of the biggest obstacles has been supporting my kindergarten daughter as she attends school virtually and I continue to fill my other day-to-day roles as mother to two small children, employee, wife, daughter, provider—and the list goes on. Some days I feel like I’m successfully fulfilling them all. Other days, I’m exhausted by the time the school day ends.

My daughter and I figured out how to work from home together this fall, with many trials and errors. We worked on building her stamina to engage with her teachers and peers on the computer screen, as well as defining boundaries of when I could help her. I’m often in virtual meetings with school district staff and try to keep that time uninterrupted. To do so, I put on my former first grade teacher hat and created some stoplight signs to signal when it was okay for her to enter the room.

I abandoned them after the first week.

Several instances, I could be heard “redirecting” her loudly (aka yelling) when I thought she was on mute.  And then there was the time she was asked to give a word that rhymes with hit and she shared my favorite explicative...which resulted in a laugh from her teacher and a lesson from me on school words versus adult words. Eventually, we fell into a groove, and we both started to figure out what worked best.

“For many parents, this is a front-row seat to their child’s education they have never had.”

Kori Hamner

Memphis Corps Member 2007

With that in mind, this year I’m re-centering myself for parenting during a pandemic, especially when it comes to virtual school. I’m setting better boundaries during office hours, attempting to only schedule meetings while my daughter is online so that I can give her attention or support offline when needed. I plan to wake up 30 minutes earlier in the morning so that I can make space for myself, get ready for the day, and engage with my kids over breakfast. I reorganized our virtual school space over the break, making clear designations for the day’s workbook pages, and ensuring supplies were within reach.

I have been reflecting on what virtual learning means for the long-haul in education.

For many parents, this is a front-row seat to their child’s education they have never had. And for that, I’m hopeful. I hope to see parents demand the quality of learning our kids deserve, and praise the amazing efforts of teachers and administrators who are working so hard to engage students.

Parents are key to virtual learning success, and I’m working to center myself on that notion in 2021.