Springfield, MO

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Opinion: Make time to connect, educate while working from home

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In the past few weeks, our community has been stressed with not only trying to figure out how to deal with an impending pandemic, but also with the economic impact of social distancing.

Many employees have lost their jobs. Business owners are struggling with how to make payroll and keep their business operational when their doors are closed to the public. Nonprofit leaders are trying to figure out how to make up for lost revenue and deliver critical services to our most vulnerable neighbors. Most of us are doing it from home, and many of us are doing it with our kids nearby.

As our team scrambles to support businesses navigating through this crisis, which is largely unprecedented, we notice the significant added stress created by having to find ways to educate our own kids while we are working.

This week, our own team was having a Zoom call to go over our client interactions. It was a critical meeting where we were set to cover challenges and collaborate on the best ways to help. On our screens were videos of our team members spread out like the opening of the Brady Bunch. Just as we started our meeting, one of our team member’s little girl snuck into her home office and jumped into her lap. Another team member’s teenager started making comments off camera soon to be followed by his young daughters. My own daughter came in the room looking for a snack. Here we were with real issues to confront and battles to fight and our kids seemed to conspire against us keeping us from important work.

We knew when we were beat; so we let the kids take over the call. Pretty soon our kids were all on the cameras making faces at each other and laughing. We laughed, too, as we watched them play and ask how our call worked and what we were doing. We took a little time to explain and get them connected; the kids, ranging in age from preschool to high school, all learned something. They all got to experience a little of what happens when we go to work, and we got to experience a little more of their world.

As I watched and laughed, a thought came over me. What could be more important?

It’s easy for me to send my kids to their excellent school district knowing they are in great hands, but this experience of working through a crisis with them nearby also has reminded me of the importance of educating our children and of the patience and love our educators have for our kids.

We like to segment our lives into work, home and school. It makes it tidy and easier to handle. However, as we are forced to integrate these things together, maybe there is a lesson to be learned. Education doesn’t only happen at school, and the education that does happen at school is enriched by our experiences at home and in real life. Our knowledge is obtained not just for the sake of hoarding it, but so that we can apply it, challenge ourselves and build on what we’ve learned while teaching others.

As many of us work from home and find ways to educate our own kids, maybe the best thing we can do is to relax a little. Let’s be patient. Let the kids lead us, just a little bit. Let’s answer their questions. Let’s get them engaged.

While this isn’t a situation anyone would have chosen, let’s take advantage of it. Let’s all learn together.

At the same time, let’s also be grateful for those who educate our children as a profession. I was reminded of the passion our teachers have for our kids when they drove through our neighborhood this week honking horns and displaying signs that say, “We miss you!” I am reminded of their dedication as these teachers find ways to innovate and engage students who are suddenly outside of their reach. I was reminded of their compassion as they feed thousands of kids who are food insecure as their families struggle.

I salute all you who are educators, both those who do it professionally and those of us who have suddenly been thrust into a role that we’ve always had and in a situation we’ve never seen. We have a lot of problems to solve. We have a lot of minds to nurture.

It certainly does take a village working together, even when we are working separately.

Don Harkey is the owner and CEO at People Centric Consulting Group. He can be reached at


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