College students launch virtual tutoring to help working moms with home schooling

Working from home and parenting is a tough balancing act, and it’s likely to continue as many school districts stick with remote learning for now.

“It’s not easy,” said Min Larson, a teacher and mother of two small children. “Actually, I’m really feeling like I’m suffering as a mother.”

Larson’s husband is also working from home. She says he tries to help but that she still feels pressured to keep the household running, handle the shopping, and coordinate all the daily logistics.

As more school districts add some form of remote learning to their plans, Larson’s situation is becoming more common.

“Every piece of research says that the majority of child-rearing activities, housekeeping activities continues to fall disproportionately onto the female of the partnership,” explained Elaine Varelas, a human resource consultant at Keystone Partners in Boston.

A recent survey conducted by Morning Consult for the New York Times asked parents with children under 12 who is spending more time home schooling your children, or helping them with distance learning?

Men said they were 45% of the time and gave their spouses credit 39% of the time, while women said they were helping with home schooling 80% of the time and gave a nod to their spouse just 3% of the time.

Two college students who are taking gap years think this situation needs to be fixed so women can stay in the workforce. Lola McAllister, the cofounder of Project Matriarchs, said they’re stakeholders in this issue as well, "As future working mothers potentially, we don’t want to inherit those norms.”

Pilar McDonald, the other co-founder, said the group connects college students with moms, to provide virtual childcare.

For example, one tutor tapped into a child’s fascination with sharks. “They did a lot of research online together, sharing their screen and kind of playing around,” said McDonald. Here’s the big selling point: The service is free to moms. The tutors earn $15 an hour.

Project Matriarchs will accept donations from parents who can afford to pay and they’re also doing some fundraising.

Anna-Kate Lembke, a sophomore at Brown University, who tutors Larson’s son, said, “It’s something that’s academically stimulating because you get to help kids with their homework, and you get to meet kids, and plans lessons.”

McAllister and McDonald know this is a big problem for working women, but believe change happens one step at a time.

"Just within the mom’s daily life, if she can have one hour to dedicate to her work, or to just dedicate to some rest, that’s meaningful to us, "added McAllister.

Ultimately, Project Matriarchs would like to find some corporate partners who would be willing to make this service available to their employees.

You can learn more about getting a tutor, or becoming one, by going to Project Matriarch’s website.

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