With school and office closures, people have been able to spend more time with their loved ones at home. While the shift was challenging, most parents can agree that time with their children is better than time spent commuting in traffic. I anticipate that many of these changes will be lasting as employees continue to seek out more opportunities to spend valuable time with their families.
The Covid-19 pandemic has affected nearly every aspect of our lives today. Many of us now have new challenges that come with working from home, homeschooling, and sheltering in place.
As a part of our series about how busy women leaders are addressing these new needs, I had the pleasure of interviewing Lindsey Wander.
Lindsey Wander originally attended college to become a Biomedical Engineer; however, several domestic and international internships later, she discovered her passion for teaching. For years, Lindsey taught STEM in low-income neighborhoods, yet time and financial restraints, added to endless bureaucratic red tape, prevented Lindsey from being able to dedicate the 1-on-1 time to her students who needed it. So, Lindsey decided to start her tutoring business with the mission of helping students of all abilities to not only improve their grades and scores, but to also learn the skills to become confident and independent lifelong learners, and grow into competent and conscious leaders. She seeks to empower our youth with the tools to succeed in school, work, and life — so that they were in the powerful position to direct their own lives.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you share with us the backstory about what brought you to your specific career path?
I actually enrolled in college to pursue a career in Biomedical Engineering. I loved learning about genetics, but the labwork was so uninspiring. So I switched my emphasis to Ecology, and my “lab” moved to the streams and fields of Yosemite. I still finished my studies in Chemistry and Math, and graduated in 4 years with 2 bachelors and a minor. Unsure of which career path I should follow, I spent the next couple years in various internships across the country and all over the globe. It was an Environmental Education internship in Pennsylvania that brought my passion for teaching to light. I went back to college to attain my teaching credential, and taught middle school biology and math in low income neighborhoods for several years. I truly loved my “kids” and inspiring in them a love of learning; but when I moved to Chicago in 2011, the political red-tape and the extreme emphasis on test scores left me little room to actually teach. So I decided to tutor full time. My methodologies were so effective that I outgrew myself within a couple years and began to hire tutors. I found myself in the interesting position of “teaching the teachers,” and the success stories grew exponentially. Now I mostly manage the business and provide support for my tutors and parents, but I make sure to also work with students a few days a week — since that is where my true passion lies.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started at your company?
Many business owners talk about their feelings of self-doubt. I have also had my moments when I was not sure if my business would be successful. However, I have had many affirming moments in 2020 that have reminded me that my mission is valid and our services are needed. With the spotlight shinning on education, people are beginning to realize that true learning is more than simply memorizing formulas and passing tests. There is a dire need to shift the way we teach our youth so that they feel more inspired and empowered. This has been the focus of my company since its inception, and now society is beginning to focus on the same. It verifies that my business is valuable and effective, encouraging me through the difficult times of this year.
Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?
The pandemic has shone a spotlight on inequality in America, especially in regards to education. The Achievement Gap is being widened with school closures. Black and Hispanic students living in poverty are among the hardest hit, resulting in long-term economic costs for local and national communities. Their families suffer higher rates of infection and they have parents who are less likely to be able to work from home. Furthermore, children in poverty and children of color have less access to remote learning, lower quality remote instruction, less conducive learning environments, less home support, and lower engagement. Their families simply cannot afford to give constant parental academic supervision nor pay for outside academic assistance. These disproportionate learning losses for low-income minority students is compounding existing achievement gaps, leading many students to drop out.
The achievement gaps certainly raise moral questions for a society committed to the ideal of equal opportunity. But they also impose concrete economic costs. A widened Achievement Gap will likely result in:
- More uneducated individuals who will be less likely to provide their future families with high quality educational opportunities, continuing the cycle
- More citizens earning less income and thus living in poverty with poorer health
- Higher rates of incarceration
- Less skilled, and thus less productive, future workforce
- Less money spent by these individuals on products and services
There is a massive waste of human talent and opportunity that we risk if achievement gaps are not closed. We are not only still leaving behind whole groups of children, but our failure to educate all our children to the highest levels means students in America overall are being left behind in a world where global competition is increasingly tough. Strengthening the educational achievement of our youth will provide economic stability for us and future generations. Many teachers and schools across the country are proving that race and poverty are not destiny; large steps forward are possible. It is urgent that we intervene immediately to support the most vulnerable students. As state and local government budgets are being cut, school systems are struggling to do this alone.
Lindsey Wander of WorldWise Tutoring started a Student Sponsorship program in which individuals or organizations can sponsor tutoring for students who have been nominated by schools and organizations that can attest to their dedication and promise. The sponsors’ contributions will provide the nominated students with a semester of instruction from our high-quality tutors who will focus on assisting the students with academics and test prep, while also teaching them the underlying learning and life skills so that the students can excel in all classes, in college, in their careers, and beyond. The sponsorship packages also allow for many far-reaching feel-good marketing opportunities for the organizations. By providing our youth with the tools to grow into successful contributing members of society, the sponsors are making the monumental changes our world so desperately needs.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
Time and time again, my college friend Sarah Anderson has been a sounding board, coach, cheerleader, and idea generator for me and my business. Though she and her husband have busy Physical Therapy careers in California and three very active children, Sarah always makes time to test out my latest concept, to suggest improvements on my ventures, and to encourage me through the tough times. She and her husband actually helped me come up with my company name. Sarah was the one who encouraged me to hire tutors once my business outgrew myself by telling me, “The first one you hire will be the hardest; after that, you’ll wonder why you didn’t do it sooner!” She also recently introduced me to a Virtual Assistant, whom I have hired and whom has been an amazing asset to my business’ recent growth. I am so thankful for Sarah’s continued support and guidance through the ups and downs of owning my business.
The Covid-19 pandemic has affected nearly every aspect of our lives today. Can you articulate to our readers what are the biggest family related challenges you are facing as a woman business leader during this pandemic?
When Shelter in Place was instated, I spent the first couple weeks trying to help families better manage their homes now also becoming their offices and schools. Everyone was overwhelmed with no time to seek help. So I immediately created a list of over 400 learning resources organized by age and subject (https://www.worldwisetutoring.com/covid-crisis-schooling-at-home-overview/). These free and cheap resources kept children engaged and learning, so that parents could have some guilt-free time to themselves.
With the end of the school year, I began to create opportunities for reflection. I spoke with our own clients first. Then on Thurs 6/11/20, I polled parents in over twenty parenting groups on Facebook who have had their children home full-time during Shelter in Place. I asked them all about their greatest challenges that they wish they had help with. Nearly 200 parents chimed in.
The major pain points for parents are:
- Not enough time to get everything done (42%). Parents lamented that finding a work-school-life balance has been tough. They have not been able to properly organize their time and space, which has caused some stress. Furthermore, the daily tasks, such as cooking and laundry, have often been neglected. And forget about any personal time!
- Difficulty with motivating, engaging, and teaching their children (38%). Parents have struggled to teach the higher-level content, such as math and science. They also have had a hard time determining and delivering academically and developmentally appropriate curriculum. Parents have also struggled with managing different instruction and individualized attention for their children of various ages/grades. Getting their children to be motivated and engaged has also been a daily challenge. Many parents also reported feeling guilty about the amount of screen time their kids are getting.
- Lack of socialization (14%). Parents are saddened by their children’s loneliness, stating that they are not getting enough time with their teachers or peers. Parents themselves also report feeling isolated and discouraged.
Can you share what you’ve done to address those challenges?
With my decades of experience working with families to achieve success, I began to compile solutions to these pressing problems. I started by devising specific responses to all the major pain points and publishing those online via my website and social media. I created a Facebook Group where I dilute these suggestions into daily tips and resources for parents and educators to apply. I held “Ask an Expert” Lives every Wednesdays evening in my Facebook group so parents, educators, and students could seek advice for their pressing problems. I began to directly train my instructors in methodologies to deliberately address these issues with their students, so as to ease the stress on parents. I started to spread my ideas and methodologies via contributions in global articles and podcasts. I am also currently creating a series of webinars to teach parents and educators simple strategies for how to address the issues they are facing.
Can you share the biggest work-related challenges you are facing as a woman in business during this pandemic?
Personally, with the spotlight shinning on my industry, I have deep dived into growing my business over the past several months. With socialization at a minimum due to safety precautions, I plunged myself completely into my work. This resulted in 80+ hour work weeks, during which I did not take a day off for nearly six months. I was even working in my dreams! I began to feel burnt out and restless, and my immune system took a hit. It wasn’t until I fell ill with the flu that I realized I needed to slow down and take a break.
Can you share what you’ve done to address those challenges?
Now I make sure to have at least one day a week in which I do not check work emails or texts. I also have a hard stop at the end of each work day in which I turn off electronics and focus on my loved ones. It is challenging because it is tempting to think “well this has to be taken care of right now.” But usually it doesn’t — it can wait. I realize I have held myself to such a high standard — one that my staff and clients do not necessarily expect. I learned that others get it: we are all in the same position of needing wellness breaks right now and we understand when others simply need time to “log off.”
Can you share your advice about how to best work from home, while balancing the needs of homeschooling or the needs of a family?
With office and school closures, our private homes have also become a hub for working and learning. This has made our normal work-life balance topple over. To help remedy this, compartmentalize your brain to separate family time and work time. When you are with your kids, be fully present. Do not try to multitask by checking emails. Give your kids your full attention during their dedicated time. If something comes up while you are with your kids, first gauge it is really urgent before acting. Most “emergencies” can wait. If it is urgent and needs your immediate attention, allow your kids 15 minutes of screen time while you address the issue.
In the same way, be totally productive when you are working. Avoid social media or texting breaks, for example. You’ll find that when you cut out the time-wasting distractions, you don’t need 8 hours a day dedicated to work to achieve the same productivity. Consider putting a sign on the door when you absolutely cannot be interrupted, but allowing your children to enter your workspace otherwise. With everyone working from home, children in the room during more casual meetings is not considered unprofessional — in fact it shows a more human side of you that many enjoy. Furthermore, it gives your children a chance to learn more about what you do, thereby better shaping their own career path. Parents with more demanding jobs can correlate schedules with the other parent to get longer uninterrupted stretches during critical times of the day. If both parents have demanding jobs, consider hiring help, such as a tutor or nanny. Set work hours and stick to them. Have a hard stop at the end of the day. Don’t be tempted to “just check your email one more time.” Even during office and school closures, see your work-life balance as just that — a scale with work on one side and family on the other. Keep them separate because if you put them both on one side, the whole device topples over.
Also, prioritize quality time over quantity time. School closures do not mean we should try to mimic what happens on campus in our home. Instead keep in mind that the dedicated school day should only take 2–4 hours — unless your kids are really interested in the topic and want to keep diving in. Allow them the rest of the time to just be. Don’t fear unstructured time. Don’t try to keep your children from being bored. In fact, boredom in childhood has many life-long benefits, such as: cultivating creative thought, inspiring self-reflection, allowing for self-motivation, sparking decision-making, stimulating new personal interests, and fostering confidence and independence. Each of these are valuable life skills that better prepare our children for the real-world — and all they require is giving your children a little freedom to be “bored.”
You can also create options for more structured independent time. But, to foster independence, allow your children to choose what they want to do each day. Maybe they can pick an activity from the “Box o’ Fun,” full of games, crafts, hobbies, books, and other tangible activities that are age appropriate for your child. Or they can do a craft at their craft station, work on their hobby in their room, or complete a chore. Putting together a regulated “Snack Station,” maybe with rules for “payments” or “snacking times,” can also encourage them to monitor their own eating.
Which brings us to the next topic: household upkeep. You have kids — put them to work! Have your children help around the house with cleaning and cooking. This allows them to learn essential life skills that are not taught in schools. Remember: “Life is learning and learning is life” — not all lessons occur during designated school time. Furthermore, having responsibilities around the house also allows them to experience the immediate sense of pride for completing something meaningful. The praise you give, such as “Wow, the floors are sparkling clean” or “Yum, this dinner you made is delicious,” builds within them an innate sense of self-worth not contingent on their grades or scores. Or you can always shift your mindset to realize that you really don’t need to mop 4 times a week. As adults looking back, we cherish the fun and laughter of our childhoods more than the clean house. School closures allow more opportunity for this.
Can you share your strategies about how to stay sane and serene while sheltering in place, or simply staying inside, for long periods with your family?
To stay sane and serene while sheltering in place, find opportunities for socialization and me-time. For socialization, you can enroll your child in live online classes in subjects students their age are also interested in (and while they are busy, you can get some me-time!). Check out our Enrichment courses (https://www.worldwisetutoring.com/enrichment/) for students ages 4–19, for instance. Alternatively, you can plan virtual play dates with friends and family using the Marco Polo app, Facetime, or Zoom. Use those apps to schedule virtual game or trivia nights, for instance. Or, another socialization option is to do drive by’s to see each other in person. Stay in your car and keep your mask on to make this safe. Or try going to a park where people are walking; often just being in the vicinity of other people is nice and feels like socialization. You can also meet up with one friend at the park to throw a football, kick a soccer ball, or play tennis. Many families have found joy in visiting forest preserves. Tip: Rainy days are best because there are less people and there is more mud to muck around it. Use this as an opportunity to spend more quality time socializing as a family by playing games or watching movies together. That’s what your children will remember most. For some guilt-free me-time, go for a walk every day, making it non-negotiable regardless of weather. Sometimes take a family member, sometimes walk while on a work call that doesn’t require your laptop, sometimes walk while on the phone with friends or family, and sometimes just listen to an audiobook or podcast. Librivox and Lit2Go have free audiobooks. Right now our favorite podcasts are: This American Life, Hidden Brain, Science Vs., and Sword and Scale. For some simple me-time, you can also just get in your car by yourself, put on your favorite music, pick a direction, and just go. Or you can hide in another room and watch a show. Whatever it is, schedule me-time and take it. It’ll never feel like there’s time for it. Take the time anyway. Above all else, remind yourself that this isn’t forever. So take it one day at a time. Including opportunities for socialization and me-time will make the time fly by.
Many people have become anxious from the dramatic jolts of the news cycle. The fears related to the coronavirus pandemic have understandably heightened a sense of uncertainty, fear, and loneliness. From your perspective can you help our readers to see the “Light at the End of the Tunnel”? Can you share your “5 Reasons To Be Hopeful During this Corona Crisis”? If you can, please share a story or example for each.
- The pandemic has shone a spotlight in the most important societal concerns: equity in rights, health, and education. While this has resulted in some turbulence, the increased focus on these issues of basic human needs will result in essential changes for the better.
- Everyone can agree that our leadership did not act effectively in reaction to this global pandemic. With the upcoming election, I hope that this inspires everyone to take a more active role in determining who will be in leadership positions.
- I work directly with youth and can confidently state that the next generation is more empathetic, aware, and open-minded. I look forward to inspiring and empowering them to make changes in their lives, their communities, and the world at large.
- With school and office closures, people have been able to spend more time with their loved ones at home. While the shift was challenging, most parents can agree that time with their children is better than time spent commuting in traffic. I anticipate that many of these changes will be lasting as employees continue to seek out more opportunities to spend valuable time with their families.
- The shift to remote learning was difficult, but it afforded students the opportunity to learn valuable skills that are applicable to the growing remote workforce of the future. Thus, our youth are now better prepared to adapt to societal changes as technology continues to become an increasing part of our lives and progress.
From your experience, what are a few ideas that one can use to effectively offer support to their family and loved ones who are feeling anxious? Can you explain?
Parents can effectively offer support to their children who may be feeling anxious with effective communication. Start by asking questions such as: How have you been sleeping lately?, How is your appetite?, When was the last time you cried? You may need to share something about your own emotions to get your teenager to open up. Then help your child recognize and identify emotions based on the physical feelings that come with them. For instance, butterflies in your stomach may mean you are nervous. Encourage your teen to “Name it. Claim it. Reclaim/Tame/Aim it.” This involves: 1) Identify and label the feeling, 2) Take ownership of the feeling (“I’m feeling ___.”), and then 3) Come up with healthy, realistic ways to handle the feeling. Make it a habit to include moments to stop and recognize what is causing stress and what is producing confidence. Then brainstorm appropriate reactions to those emotions. If your child becomes frustrated with schoolwork, check in at intervals and ask how it is going, rather than automatically coaching them through it or telling him/her to calm down. This helps children grapple with their emotions on their own while knowing they are being supported.
Help your child build an innate sense of self worth by recognizing and describing strengths and needs, or “Glows and Grows” as I call them. Have them reflect on what they do well and what they struggle with, not just in academics but in all areas of their lives. You may need to model this for them at first. Remember to promote your children’s effort rather than talent (praise how they approached the challenge, not how hard they tried or how well they did).
Help your children to develop their own action plan for improvement. This puts them in charge of developing their own skills and abilities. Have them set weekly individual goals, then reflect on why they did or did not meet those goals. This encourages them to think deeply about their behaviors and abilities. Then have them identify something specific they want to accomplish that is meaningful to them. Suggest starting with something that is fairly simple and achievable, like saving money, before moving on to longer-term goals, like buying a car. Help your children identify short- and long-term goals and think about what has to be done to achieve them. Encourage the establishment of a growth mindset by adding the word “yet.” For example, instead of “I can’t do it,” encourage them to say “I can’t do it YET.” And use the words “when” or “since” instead of “if.” For instance, instead of “If you can be anything you want…” say “Since you can be anything you want.”
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
Benjamin Franklin’s quote “Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn” has been my driving force as an educator for the past 15+ years. It reminds me that students need to be involved in their learning every step of the way in order for it to be effective. As adults, we tend to underestimate kids, thinking we know better. But not a day goes by without one of my students impressing me with his/her deep understanding, perceptiveness, creativity, or empathy. Kids are wiser than we may think. They usually just need the proper support to lead them down their own path of discovery and growth.
I also recently heard “small changes are big changes.” Some of these suggested reforms can seem daunting, and they are. But even changing the language we use when speaking to kids and the opportunities we expose them to makes a huge difference in what they see themselves as capable of.
How can our readers follow you online?
Facebook — business: https://www.facebook.com/WorldWiseTutoring/
Facebook — group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/WorldWiseTutoring.LifelongLearners/
LinkedIn — business: https://www.linkedin.com/in/worldwisetutoring/
Student Handbook — https://www.worldwisetutoring.com/handbook/
Thank you so much for sharing these important insights. We wish you continued success and good health!