Never did I ever want to home school my children. Never did I ever want my children to attend virtual school at home. Yet 2020 with it’s global pandemic, catapults us into a virtual school journey, like it or not. Ready or not the land of chromebooks, e-mails, and so many logins is our new normal. We are officially 8 days into virtual school and I have come to a few conclusions. Let’s discuss.
Parental Involvement is a Must
In case you were under the misguided notion that a 5 and 8 year old can manipulate an online classroom free from adult participation, I am here to tell you this is simply untrue. Virtual school turned me into my children’s personal assistant. I am the keeper of schedules, e-mails, logins, and assignments. At the end of the day, I spend an hour scanning work and forwarding it to all the appropriate places. My other roles consist of lunch lady and playground monitor. As we move through the day, it is my job to keep the train on the tracks.
My Teachers are Awesome
My school and my teachers are a huge blessing in this mixed up, pandemic mess. I can not say enough good things about their attempts to normalize virtual learning and engage my kiddos on a personal level. The directions are clear, the links are simple and consistent, this momma is so grateful to the four lovely ladies in charge of Kindergarten and Third grade in our Virtual Classrooms. COVID-19 did not ask you if you wanted to teach virtually, but here you are building the tracks as we speed along on the train. Bravo!
Time to Up the Independence Game
Acts of Service is my primary love language. I will be the first to admit that this often backfires on me when it comes to motherhood. Second to my love language, I am also a “do what needs to be done” person. See a pile of shoes on the kitchen floor, pick them up and toss them in the mudroom. It takes effort for me to stop and ask someone else to to handle the task in front of me. Now that my kiddos are older, I put a lot of effort into including them in the completion of tasks. It is my job to raise capable, functioning adults, so I just can’t do EVERYTHING. Adding Virtual school into our routine provides a whole new layer of independent tasks for my kiddos. It is not mommy’s school work, it is theirs.
Our biggest challenge comes during the afternoon independent work cycle. The phrases “I can’t”, “I don’t know how”, and “I need your help” start playing on repeat. The kindergartner and I are working through these quite easily. The third grader is more of a challenge. As she sits, pouting, arms folded, on the verge of tears, I call time out. My question – Would you act like this if your teacher was standing in front of you? The answer is no. We have now established a “no whining” policy. Please talk to me the same way you would talk to your teacher. I am just standing in, it is her lessons and assignments. I’ve set the expectation. We will see how things go.
Kids will Surprise you
In my past life, I spent 5 years as a Pre-K teacher. My favorite part of teaching is when kids figure things out. I love seeing the light bulbs go off and the proud smiles when they do something all on their own. We have already had a few of those surprises within our two weeks of virtual learning.
We do DEAR time (Drop Everything And Read) after recess every day. One day the 3rd grader decided that she should read to the kindergartner. On her own she used her reading time to read to him books of his choosing. It was awesome! The kindergartner figured out how to listen and read the books on his Raz-Kids profile, so that he could earn more stars. No help from me. Both kids are absolute experts on Zoom and simply say goodbye to me, my signal to leave, when class starts. It will be so interesting to see the light bulbs go off and watch them figure things out as we move through the weeks.
Virtual school was not our first choice, but we are making it work. My ultimate goal is to get them back in the classroom. I truly believe the in-class experience teaches skills the virtual can not. It will be interesting when this year’s kindergartners move on to 1st grade and are no longer on MUTE. I suspect there will be some noisy classrooms in the Fall of 2021. God Bless our hardworking teachers!