If I had to choose a photo to describe the mood for the day, this would be it:
It’s not all rainbows and butterflies over here and our first day of school went much worse than I could have imagined. It put us all in a mood. Every. One. Of. Us.
Technology for 4 students (three of which are elementary age) is always going to have it’s challenges. Hallie’s schedule although corrected days ago still left some issues when she was trying to log into classes that teacher’s didn’t have her down for. Cannon’s laptop provided by the school is too old to manage a live streaming video so after an hour of trying to get him connected – we finally sent him to a friend’s house who was in the same class. (funny enough his teacher didn’t realize this and although he kept raising his hand to participate the teacher wouldn’t call on him. Finally towards the end of the day the teacher asked his friend if her brother wanted to say something. They both giggled and the mom popped on to clarify that Cannon was not her brother and indeed in the class and of course she felt bad for ignoring him half the day!)
Neither Bennett’s or Hunter’s laptops were able to work with the live stream so after missing the first half of the video Bennett moved to my desktop and Hunter on a work laptop. Of course Briggs was trying to hop in every video which wasn’t so cute to his siblings and he kept asking when he gets to go to school. I ran around from one kid to the other fixing problems. “My video just quit. The link isn’t working. She said to click here and there’s nothing there. How do I fill this out? It just keeps saying loading.
Hunter was bummed that they didn’t do anything. Only half of Hallie’s teachers even provided instruction. And Cannon’s class only seemed to talk about feelings (which I see from the schedule is the topic for the whole week – clearly a theme they felt they needed to address strongly this year.)
They were only “in” school half the day and it felt like an eternity. It left us all in a somber mood the rest of the afternoon. We’ll call it a funk.
I am bound and determined tomorrow will be better. I had concerns before starting this process and today did not put those concerns at ease. Praying technology is on our side and we can work through this very kinky process. It was very apparent today that this cannot be a long term solution for our family, I’m just hoping it gets better when they actually start to learn things.
The redeeming moment for the day – first day of school pictures with some cousins – definitely the highlight. A sense of normalcy on an abnormal day.
The kids finished up school last week, although Hallie keeps reminding us that she’s not quite done. 🙂 She’s got two more weeks before she finishes her first high school semester class.
Over the years, I’ve had many friends choose to homeschool their children for one reason or another. (And everyone seemed to have their definitive answers as to why). But I couldn’t understand how in the world they were accomplishing it with kids at many different levels. Teaching children is not one of my strong points (requires far more patience than I possess) which is why education was not an area I pursued.
But when the schools shut down due to COVID-19, I made a decision: I was going to give everything I had to homeschool for 9 weeks – 1 quarter. I had never put myself in the category of being capable of being a homeschool mom, but I wanted to take full advantage of the opportunity. I read several times on social media that what we were being asked to do during this pandemic was not considered homeschool – the way we ran it in our home would prove them wrong.
(Now, I’m speaking very generally here – every teacher is so different, but this has been our overall experience over the last 10 years.)
My kids earn high honors at school but I’m not entirely sure how high the expectations are. They seem to skate through school with little effort which I think is typical in a large classroom setting. I have spent many hours in the classroom volunteering and teachers have an extremely hard role in making sure everyone is at level in every area while still keeping kids who have mastered the concepts engaged.
Homeschool was eye opening because I was able to more accurately see the holes in my kids learning and where they needed help – much easier when you’re focusing on a single kid and not 30 kids. This caused some emotions to run high on everyone’s part!
My kids were not used to mom teaching them and the first two weeks had some frustrating moments as we were working out a schedule and routine. They were used to a different way and I was frustrated that they had missed basic concepts at school that were part of their curriculum and yet they had high grades.
And writing? I’m not sure if this is nationwide or just our little area but writing is just not being taught! I think my kids have had a lot of practice – plenty of opportunities but their writing is not corrected with feedback so although they keep writing it’s not getting much better! This is something I’ve been fully aware of for a long while, but as I’ve corrected a lot of writing the last 9 weeks it has become even more apparent.
Luckily, we found our rhythm. We found resources that worked. (Hallie and Hunter had some assignments given online by their teachers and although I helped them they were able to manage it pretty well, I just provided supplemental learning.) Kids knew the expectations and it worked. One of my favorite parts was learning how my kids learn (and they all learn so differently) and I could cater to their specific needs. I love that it didn’t take all day. We spent time learning and then they had time to explore other interests like typing and coding and stop motion and reading and physical activities.
And the experience changed my perspective. All these years I’ve looked at homeschooling as something I could never do. But now I see the freedom, individual learning and time it gives back and I get why people do it. It may not be something we ever choose to do again, but I know its a possibility and I can do it (and even enjoy it) which was a mental block I had for years.
Our life has become busy as we’ve allowed kids to participate in activities and sports and it is enticing to have a shorter more focused school day. But even as I joked with my kids that they were going to like homeschool so much they wouldn’t want to go back – they weren’t laughing. In all reality, they love going to school. They are social beings and they have missed their friends and social environment. They miss their dual language program – which try as I may, I could not duplicate! Their public school experience has given them leadership opportunities and accountability and has been very positive. But it comes at a cost of 7 hours a day.
We are all hoping that schools open in the fall. But if they don’t, I’m confident we will have an equally enriching educational experience at home.
My kids laughed when I told them they had to get dressed and take last day of school pictures. They must of thought they were going to get out of it this year – not a chance. What you can’t see is the swimsuits on the bottom – balance in all things!
These little comparison photos show they’ve all grown a little bit over the last nine months!
100 days ago this little guy started kindergarten. 100 days ago he had never been on a school bus, or eaten lunch in a cafeteria. He didn’t know any spanish. 100 days seems like such a short amount of time – but it’s a long time when you’re 6 years old.
He has been talking about this special day for so long. (The teachers did a great joy of hyping this up and getting the kids excited) Everything was 100. From his glasses and crown, to the snacks they counted and ate. He came home beaming. It was better than he could’ve imagined.
I find it reassuring when I attend parent/teacher conferences and I come to realize that the teachers truly know my children. Not just their names, siblings they’ve previously had or their test scores, but really know them: Their likes and dislikes, what makes them tick, what motivates them, who their close friends are, how they socialize with others, what they could use help with.
I walked into conferences this week and fell in love with our teachers all over again because they knew my kids. They know that Hunter is playful and likes to joke around and they dish it back to them. They know that Bennett is a rule follower and look to him to lead in the class and they love his wit and humor. They know Cannon is tender and loves to help others and give him opportunities to do so.
Yes, we talked of their education and how well they’re doing in class, but the conferences seemed to be less about how they’re doing as students and more about how they’re doing as humans. They really know and love our children and there is nothing better than feeling of someone’s love for your kid.