I’m having one of those moments in life when I need to write down a few things that are rolling around in my brain and blocking me from being creative. This happens when I’m facing something unusual, unknown, or stressful. Usually I write about it in private and then leave it alone. Writing about it is my therapy, in a way. But this time I felt like what came out of that writing session was something worth sharing. So many of us are in the same boat, after all. Anyway, enjoy.
Side note: The title of this post is entirely inaccurate. I’m not really homeschooling my kids. Like many of you, I’m relying on the school, district, and teachers who make the learning possible. More accurately it should be schooling AT home … but I started this journey calling it homeschool and I’m just sticking with the pattern.
My kids start schooling from home Tuesday. The district has announced that this will be the learning method for the entirety of the first quarter, so until October. This is the new normal, so we’re preparing.
- My husband works from home 3 days a week and works in the office for 2. He’s off on Saturday and Sunday, just like the kids.
- I work part time at a bookstore in town 5 days a week. I’m off Sunday and Monday.
- That means 2 days a week (usually Tuesday and Friday) there are about 5-6 hours of the day where there simply isn’t an adult in the house during school hours. Yes, my kids are older. But it remains to be seen whether this is going to work.
- The schedule is not set yet. We’ve received emails from the school that make it clear the students are expected to log into the classroom at the appropriate time in order to get attendance credit for each class. It remains unclear whether they’re expected to maintain a connection the entire class period. Actually, a lot remains unclear. Including the actual schedule or which teacher they’re to connect to.
- The workload has to be better than the end of last year. The end of last year worked for that time and for what little notice the teachers were given. But it was NOT ideal. Some of the work was simply busy work that seemed designed to give them something to do. My kids didn’t feel connected to the teachers or like they had help learning the material. They didn’t get much in the way of feedback or grades, either. The good news is it seems like the district recognizes that. The email correspondence has made a point to say “this isn’t going to be like last year”. Of course, nothing has been communicated to really make it clear to us how it will be different … not yet. There’s always unknowns before a school year starts, this year just feels heavier.
- Socialization. When I look back on my own school experiences, it’s the social things that stick out. So what happens to the memories and experiences for the kids if they’re learning without that component? It’s something to think about.
- CTE classes. This is the biggest unknown stressing my family unit out right now. My son chose his high school specifically for the career path he wanted. He’s in the culinary program. He has his focus dialed in on that culinary internship Senior year (he’ll be a Sophomore this year). So, Culinary Arts 3-4 is a really important class. He has to take that (and pass it) to stay on track. We have no information yet about what classes he’s enrolled in. We have no idea how a culinary class works virtually, when you cannot access the kitchen or the tools. We have no idea if CTE classes are continuing this year in the district. For my kid, who lives for that career path, not having it will be DEVASTATING and not just for this year. So I have to just keep hoping they figure something out.
- Monday we pick up laptops from the school for both kids to use for the year. We made it through the end of last year sharing devices around the family but this will be better. Each kid will have a designated laptop for school things. No fighting about devices and, hopefully, no issues connecting because you’re not on a school device. The laptops from the school should have all the software and tools the kids need. We’re hoping.
- Monday night they have a virtual meet the teacher night. Despite what my kids are hoping for (they seem to think they’ll have Zoom calls where they can actually hear teachers live) I’m expecting pre recorded introductory videos. Hopefully, they’ll get information about where and how they’re supposed to log in, what times to log in, and get answers to their questions about PE (6th grader) and CTE classes (high schooler).
- Tuesday my husband is working from home because if last year was any indication we’re going to need an in-house IT guy on that first day of school. After that day we’ll have a little more information about what is working and what isn’t working.
Full disclosure: When I sat down to type this I didn’t see the positives yet. I was bogged down in those frustrations and next steps. I’m seeing them now, which is the point of writing like this.
- The district has made the choice. I appreciate that so much right now. The air of uncertainty around so many of my other friends and family members would be so frustrating. I appreciate that we already know this is happening until the end of the first quarter, period. With all this chaos and uncertainty, the district has given us that and I appreciate it.
- Safety. Obviously, this is the safest course of action. I see that and I appreciate that, too. Sending them to school was going to be incredibly nerve-wracking. They were already hearing lectures about masks and sharing things in preparation for possibly going back. At home, we don’t have to worry as much. I appreciate that safety.
- Tools. The district has the tools for online learning. For that, we are so lucky. They already had a platform tied to their schedules for teachers to use for online materials which my kids are already familiar with. They are putting laptops in the hands of any kid who needs them. I’m thankful the tools are there, that will make this much easier.
- We still have our jobs. Yes, it’s a challenge to figure out the schedule and my kids are learning alone for a few days a week. But I’m incredibly thankful that both my husband and I have kept our jobs.
- Hockey and gymnastics. When it comes to socialization, my kids are not completely cut off. My son still has hockey and my daughter still has gymnastics. Both of those organizations have figured out how to cut down on the size of the group, put regulations in place for safety, and continue operations. I’m so thankful we have these things for them because in all this chaos that is their tiny piece of normal.
- My kids are smart, honest, hard-working, and generally well behaved. All of those seem like things that will make this easier. They’re not perfect and they certainly have off days. But, in general, they are exactly the kind of students a system like this is “supposed” to work for.
At the end of the day, we’ll be fine. We always are. We’re a tight-knit, organized family. It seems impossible right now, but it won’t be. It seems scary right now, but it’ll get better.
Thanks for reading my thoughts. Again, I really wrote these for me. But I had the realization that a lot of you were probably feeling the same concerns. Some of you may even feel alone. I don’t know if it helped you to see what I was thinking, but I know it helped me to write it out.
I’d love to hear from you if you have thoughts you need to share. Reach out here or on other social media. Talk soon!