Virtual sitting is the latest development in parents adapting to working from home while also caring for kids who are home because of school closures. This is new for everyone. Whether you’re new to being a child care provider or you’re a seasoned pro, we want you to feel fully prepared.
A lot is changing in our world. When discussing virtual sitting with families, there should be a mutual understanding that there may be bumps in the road while everyone is adjusting. At the end of the day, however, this is your opportunity to take the initiative and lead this interaction for parents—bringing them some much-needed support during this time.
How to Apply to Virtual Sitting Jobs
What to Look For
- Read the descriptions thoroughly and make sure they are a solid fit for your strengths. Consider the age and number of children—connecting with children digitally is a little more challenging than in-person. Because of this, virtual sitting is not the time to apply for jobs that may be a stretch from your child care experience.
- This a new feature, so not all jobs tagged “virtual” may actually be. If you find an incorrect posting, please report the job here.
How to Write
Understand where parents are coming from when posting a virtual job. They’re feeling overwhelmed and are looking for some relief.
- Keep applications as brief as possible while also acknowledging the emotions of their situation. How can you respond in a comforting and reassuring way?
- Parents are looking for their lives to be simplified. Let them know exactly how you can do that.
What to Offer
Your traditional qualifications are still important, but they don’t necessarily need to be the lead-in. Share how you would potentially keep the children engaged virtually:
- Suggest fun activities you could facilitate: charades, Pictionary, or other digital games.
- If there’s a request for help with schoolwork, highlight your experience with homework help and how you can support: flashcards, pop quizzes, work checks, etc.
How to Prepare
Make sure that both you and the parents understand the safety considerations that come with virtual sitting. Children cannot be left unattended during a virtual sitting because as the sitter, you aren’t able to physically care for them.
- Pick a digital platform that you feel comfortable with and share the login information with the parent ahead of time – this will relieve the parent of the stress of doing it themselves.
- Test the platform you are using with a friend so you can work out all the kinks.
- What happens if the internet is spotty or they haven’t shown up on the video call?
- Make sure you have a phone connection with the family to make sure you’re on the same page about what’s going on.
- Based on the age of the child, come up with more activity ideas than you think you have time for. The child may not be interested in some of them, or they may not work out well. Always have backups.
- Confirm with the parents that the activities you have planned are what’s appropriate for their child.
- 5-10 minutes before your virtual sitting is scheduled to begin, set everything up on the agreed-upon platform to be ready when they log on.
- Silence all devices, such as your phone, or any notifications that might appear on the device you’re using for the virtual sitting so there are no unexpected interruptions.
During the Virtual Sitting
- Make sure you have good lighting—they want to see your face! Natural lighting is optimal, especially having it shining directly on your face and not coming from behind you.
- Think about what’s in the background of your video feed. This is still a professional interaction—make sure it looks tidy and there aren’t any inappropriate images or items visible.
- At the beginning of the session, give the child a play-by-play of what the session will look like. This will set the tone for what your time together will look like and will give you a quick insight into which of your ideas they’re most excited about.
After the Virtual Sitting
Treat a virtual sitting just like any other job opportunity with a professional follow up message. Your message should include:
- Thanking them for the opportunity.
- Letting them know how the time together went.
- Your interest in and an offer of ideas for what a potential next session could be.
This is a time to build relationships. Bringing parents relief during this time has the potential to evolve into a longer-term relationship. Treat this type of job as you would with any other first interaction with a family.