The governor of Ohio, along with most other states, announced this week that school buildings will remain shuttered for the rest of this school year due to the Coronavirus threat, and that distance learning from home will continue through the end of this grade.
By academic year end, we’ll have home schooled for a total of ten weeks – one whole quarter. We’re in week six now, by my count, so we’re more than halfway done. Never have I had more of an appreciation for our excellent Olentangy Schools elementary school teachers than I do right now!
My heart goes out to the kids who won’t get to re-join their teachers and classmates at school, to the seniors who won’t get to finish out their final year in the halls of their beloved schools, and to the teachers who are doing their best from a distance but clearly missing their students.
But you know what – perhaps the unsung heroes in all of this are the parents thrust into the unexpected role of crisis schooling our kids.
None of us trained for this. Many are somehow juggling the impossible tasks of working from home AND home schooling, which I personally cannot imagine as my daughter has needed me to be extremely hands-on with her during our home schooling sessions, which can last as long as four hours a day.
Since I’m personally in between jobs right now, all home schooling has fallen to me. We’ve had our ups and downs, but Z and I are in a pretty good rhythm now and I know we’ll finish up the year just fine. I’m sad for her and her friends because of all they are missing out, but I know that this will be a time we all look back on and marvel about.
I’ve seen articles that say we should be relaxing our standards and letting schooling go because we’re in a crisis and kids shouldn’t be pressured to continue schooling. I did go easy on Z a little in the beginning – even gave her three days off for bereavement when she lost her beloved Grandma right at the start of the Coronavirus shutdown.
But now, I’m being pretty firm about schooling and insisting on her best efforts. Kids are unbelievably resilient, and I believe she has adjusted to this new normal by now. We all need structure and familiar routines, so our home schooling mornings are actually good for both of us. The routine gets us up and thinking creatively and strategically.
I’m confident Z hasn’t lost any of her previously learned school knowledge during this time – and in fact, has learned many other useful things she may not have learned without this crisis. Plus, I’ve gotten pretty good at fourth grade math, which is not something I ever expected would happen but I appreciate it!
In addition to the distance learning curriculum provided by Z’s capable and fabulous teachers, Z and I read a lot together and independently. We’ve also watched a number of classic musicals, including West Side Story, Phantom of the Opera and Jesus Christ Superstar (if you’re not following along with the Friday musical releases from Andrew Lloyd Webber, you should be!)
And, we’ve done a ton of bike riding around our neighborhood and the surrounding nature preserves and spaces – including Alum Creek Lake, Alum Creek State Park and more. I haven’t done this much bike riding since my own childhood. I’m loving the chance to be out in the sunshine getting fresh air, vitamin D, exercise and a newfound knowledge of the Lewis Center community trails and bike paths.
Home schooling during a global health crisis – some are actually calling it “crisis schooling” – is clearly quite different from actual, planned, intentional home schooling. The home schooling parents who have been doing this all along must be pretty annoyed that so many of us are now calling ourselves home schoolers, when in reality we’re just following distance learning curricula planned out by our teachers.
But we do still have to interact with our kids as their stand-in teachers now, and that’s not always easy. Z and I had a few knock-down, drag-out fights in the beginning, before we found our distance learning roles and rhythm. It turns out that she doesn’t want me to be her teacher per se – she has two that she adores and misses very much. Instead, she wants me to be more of a home schooling guide and assistant during this time. And I’m fine with that.
I couldn’t do the job that elementary teachers or REAL home schoolers do – they are truly rock stars. But I still think that those of us doing stand-in home schooling in this Coronavirus crisis deserve a little credit, too – and maybe a nice, sparkly medal.
How has home schooling or distance learning been going in your home, and do you agree that we parents (mostly moms, let’s face it) deserve medals for taking on this new role? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below or over on Facebook.