Updated: Mar 22, 2020
There's been 3 days of E-Learning for us, and well it's had its challenges. Day 1, which unknowingly was my last day of work for a while, I worked a short day. I was home around noon. My husband was trying to juggle cleaning the house with getting the kids going with E-Learning. He wanted to make sure that the environment was conducive to learning. I love this man and his ambition; however, after being together for 17 1/2 years, I know he can do only one thing at a time. Which is fine! But needless to say, E-Learning had yet to begin for our oldest daughter. Our oldest son is in eighth grade. He is used to E-Learning days as they have four planned throughout the school year. He lounges in his bed and cranks out his work. He does well with staying organized and focused. With that, we do not have to do much in the way of directing his days. We just follow up with any assignment alerts that I get on phone from his Canvas account, and so far he's done everything before we ask. That brings us to our oldest daughter, we'll come back to her. She's the challenge. Our youngest daughter is in preschool, and she has some workbook pages she can work on. She's more than excited to do her schoolwork. Our youngest son, he's 3. His days previously consisted of hanging out with his Nah-Nah, my mother. She is a retired teacher and watched him on weekdays. They would shop, play, shop, learn, and oh yeah did I say shop. They miss each other, but with the social distancing, we are keeping him home. His days consist of playing and reading. One of the most challenging aspects in all of this is everyone wants all of my attention when they want it, despite anything else that I may doing. All-in-all those three kids, our oldest son and youngest two, are coping well.
That brings us back to our oldest daughter. She is not having fun to say the least. Starting her fourth grade E-Learning days is met with moans and groans. Nevertheless, we attempt to keep the mood positive and upbeat. Unlike our son, she requires a more hands on approach. We guide her through each lesson, but her attitude most of time is "I'd much rather be doing something else". I can't blame her. I get it. We're at home. There's toys and siblings, There's stuff to do and people with whom to do it! If only she knew I was thinking "I have so many other things to do" as well, maybe she would stay focused long enough to get through her assignments faster. We both have other things we'd rather be doing. It's a grueling process of redirecting her attention to her schoolwork and lifting her attitude. To her defense, two of the three days have literally been a full day of school work. I understand they have things they were working on at school, but unfortunately they cannot be at school right now. They are at home where there are a million other things going on. It very difficult to devote 5-6 hours to teaching only one child a day when I have 3 other children who also need me in addition to household and work obligations. Yesterday, there was relief. It was a day organized by the elementary school guidance counselors. The day consisted of short lessons about emotions and feelings, in addition to a short lesson by the music teacher. We were finished in an hour and half to two hours. It was nice because she did not need much help either. I was there to pretty much encourage her to finish up because she was actually going to get to play that day. I am anxious about today. I'm afraid it is going to consist of another 6 hours of lessons for a kid who struggles to find it in her to crank it out. Nevertheless, it will be fine. It can't last forever, right? Right???
Lessons I've Learned So Far
1. Keep some sort of routine. They still have bed times and we wake them up around 9 every morning. They are instructed to make beds, brush teeth, get dressed (into something, whatever they want), and come down to eat breakfast, After breakfast, they know it's time to start school work. The little ones still have rest/nap times.
2. Allow them to direct their learning. Our oldest likes to sit in his bed and crank out all of his work. We do not make him sit at his desk or in the kitchen. He is focused and gets it all done, so we let him decide. We allow the other children to do the same. Our oldest daughter chooses the kitchen table, and our youngest daughter also chooses the kitchen. They take breaks when they need. It's painful for me sometimes because they will want to break in the middle of something and to myself I'm thinking "can't we just finish this up?". Sometimes, I'll suggest it but if they insist, they break.
3. Reading is still required. We have a reading calendar on the fridge. Each child has his or her color sticker and they get to place a sticker on days they read thirty minutes for the older two or 2 books for the younger two. This is required every day, even weekends. I wanted to continue this because they'll otherwise consider their schoolwork to be their reading time and miss out on the opportunities to read material they enjoy. This reading helps to foster a love for reading. I hope anyway. If nothing else, it stresses the importance of reading.
4. Be patient. Patience is not my strongest attribute. I am the type of person who, when given a task, likes to get it done as quickly, accurately, and efficiently as possible. My oldest child takes after his mother. When faced with a task, he takes pride in getting it done. My oldest daughter, not so much. That's fine. We're all different. Working with her in this capacity is forcing me to exercise more patience, however. I have to allow her to work at her speed which is most definitely not my speed.
5. Make time to spend quality time that does not involve schoolwork. Even after spending hours together doing schoolwork and reading, the kids still desire to spend more time with us. When the weather permits, we go on long walks. This is an area in which I could improve. After hours of schoolwork, there is so much to do around the house. In addition, we have to cook three meals, one meal before we start, one meal in the middle of the schoolwork, and one meal after its all done. It's a lot. Admittedly, after all that momma needs a break. I think today, we'll play a board game together. My oldest son asked a couple of days ago, but we still have not done so. We are expecting day 2 in a row of rain today, so it seems like good board game weather.
6. Encourage physical activity. Give the kids time to run around and play. Our walks serve two purposes, both physical activity and time together. We also encourage physical activity inside the house. There is room to run and we do not discourage it. When weather permits, send them outside. That part is tough because right now, they really cannot play with the other kids in the neighborhood, which they are accustomed to doing. Social distancing is difficult for kids to understand. With all the schoolwork, they have not had a ton of time to ask about the neighbors, but I'm sure it'll come. We will just have to educate them about it when it does.
7. Be willing to adapt. This is new for all of us. Take the time to figure what works and what doesn't. We are still trying to figure that out with our oldest daughter. We will see what today holds for us as we discover how to best support her learning at home.
8. Remember that you are a parent first. Yes, each day starts with a long to-do list. Yes, we have to complete that list each day. However, you are not the teacher. You are this child's parent first. So, yes, getting through the school work is important. More important is continuing to build a loving relationship with your child. When you feel yourself getting frustrated and tired, it's time for you to take a break. We all need breaks. That's ok. I let my husband know when I need to take a few minutes. He does the same. Well, he sort of just disappears for several minutes then reappears, but it's all the same. The objective is to keep your sanity.
I do not have all the answers. As you've read, we're still figuring it out like most of you. It's totally fine to not have it all figured out right now. When you think about it, when do we ever have it all figured out, really? Even when we think we do, there are still those occasions when things do not go exactly according to plans. Who had COVID-19 in there plans? Who was planning on being off work or working from home right now? Who was planning on facilitating their child's learning from home right now? Who was planning on spending most of their time in the confines of their home right now? Exactly, no one. We can and should make plans, but we also have to be willing to go with the flow. Over the coming months, there will be a lot of going with the flow. So I say take a breath, and just go with it. Anyways, I have to get my day started. I hope this was helpful or at the least, entertaining for a couple of minutes.
Always striving to help,