Profs struggle to manage online courses with young children at home

Coronavirus has forced professors to teach online from home.

Some of Calvin’s professors have young children who no longer have a daycare or school to go to during the day. This means the responsibility of teaching and childcare are both handed to the professors. A few professors have taken a few minutes out of their busy schedules to help us understand what this looks like for them.

Kevin Timpe

Professor Timpe from the philosophy department has a 6th, 4th, and 1st grader at home currently. His 4th grader is pretty independent, but the 6th grader and 1st grader require more attention. The 6th grader is multiply disabled and typically has an aid all day at school, which requires Timpe or his wife to be very present at home. The 1st grader is in Spanish immersion, which can be a little difficult as no other family members speak Spanish.

Timpe and his wife are doing the best they can to balance everything. His wife does not work outside of the home, so she is able to spend much of her time helping the children with school work and taking care of her 89-year-old father that lives with them. While Timpe devotes lots of time to teaching his classes, this doesn’t go un-interrupted as he helps his kids with schoolwork.

Timpe recognizes that this is a difficult time for students. He hopes that students realize faculty are also jumping many hurdles and their attention is divided as well.

Samuel Smartt

Professor Smartt in the communications department has a similar situation. His wife does not work outside of the home other than some freelance writing. This allows her to spend the majority of her time taking care of their two boys, ages 2 and 5 (preschool). 

While Smartt spends the majority of his time teaching, he does take time to spend with the kids and give his wife a break to write. 

Additionally, a friend of theirs moved in towards the start of the pandemic. She is working remotely but is able to spend some time with the kids and help care for them.

Emily Helder

Professor Helder who works in the psychology department has two children, ages 6 and 9. Her husband works as an advancement director for a non-profit and is working remotely. As both parents are working full-time from home and with both kids at home, they are trying to find a balance. 

Helder’s days are much longer and inconsistent as they take turns helping the kids and working. She says, “the reason that we are able to make it through each day is because we have no other option (the only way out is through).”

Joseph Kuilema

Professor Kuilema works in the social work department and has an 8-month-old child. Both Kuilema and his partner are working from home. His partner is working one day at the federally qualified health center she works at and spends the rest of her time doing telehealth from home. 

They are doing their best to share responsibilities over their daughter Maaike. They’ve enjoyed being able to spend much more time with their constantly growing daughter. Kuilema says it’s not easy to juggle caring for his daughter and teaching online, “but fortunately she’s super cute and students generally love to see her when she does interrupt something.”  

Calvin professors have had their share of difficulties while taking care of their children in the midst of working from home. Despite the struggles, professors are doing what they can to balance work and childcare with their spouses.