School’s out for the summer, which means many working parents are once again juggling remote working with trying to keep their kids occupied during the second summer since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic.
In a bid to help, Twitter Inc. is continuing to support its working parents through its kids’ camp benefit again this summer. Earlier this month, the social media company announced it would continue to cover up to US$250 of the cost of Outschool Inc., an online learning platform, available to employees with kids via its Camp Twitter program until the end of 2021.
Twitter first made the platform, which offers 100,000 educational classes, available to employees globally through its parents’ resource group last year, after the pandemic was first declared. “It was really helpful during a year when [many] kids were home [full time],” says Jamie Michaels (pictured with his family), the company’s head of brand strategy in Canada and a Twitter parent lead for the resource group. “The ability to have them do some extra programming that wasn’t taught by parents was great.”
Michaels’ own two sons, currently aged 12 and 14, used the program last year. “My wife is a teacher and when I mentioned this to her, she lit up because it’s a very well-regarded platform for learning and activities. What’s really cool is that the programming is so diverse. You can do traditional learning courses — my older son did an investing class that taught about cryptocurrency — or non-traditional learning like biking and meditation. But what stands out to me as a parent is that the quality of the learning is really good.”
Through an online portal, employees can select from a host of live classes and camps designed for children ages three to 18. The classes and camps are run by thousands of independent teachers and established organizations and include topics ranging from core academic subjects like math and world history to enrichment activities such as baking, diversity, forensic science, meditation and more.
Camp Twitter is just one of the many ways the global resource group is helping parents through the many ups and downs of the pandemic. The group also partnered with Twitter’s existing virtual wellness providers, Happify Health and Modern Health, a mental-heath platform by Modern Life Inc., to bring employees a series of live webinars led by psychologists and health experts. In addition, the group has provided guidance on how to access one-on-one sessions with tips and tools to help parents overcome the challenges of e-learning with children while working from home.
To Michaels, these webinars have been invaluable, as is having access to meditation software, particularly throughout these tumultuous times. “Our team also did a breathing exercise program and other mental wellness activities I never dreamed I’d do — and maybe wouldn’t have done on my own,” says Michaels. “But when you go through it, you realize how important it is to do things like control your breathing. It really helps relieve stress and a lot of the stress we have as parents is driven by the fact that we’re at home trying to be good parents and teachers aren’t able to be on top of our kids as much due to the online learning.”
Last July, the resource group also launched a parents’ week, which included activities such as arts and crafts, special family challenges, as well as internal live streams where employees shared stories about parenting during the pandemic, as well as tips on how to keep kids safe online. The parents’ week program was such a success, the group is bringing it back again this year to run from July 26–30.
Other supports for employees who are balancing extra commitments while working from home include flexible work hours for all caregivers, listening sessions for parents and childcare reimbursements to alleviate additional expenses parents may be experiencing if their normal daycare is closed. Twitter also deploys surveys to hear directly from employees on the types of support they need to get through this second pandemic-era summer and beyond.