Here’s what one week of remote learning taught me…
Once upon a time, seven years ago, living in a quaint home, in our quaint little town of Omaha, Nebraska, my husband and I decided to have a child. Just one? You betcha. Unbeknownst to me, my body wasn’t equipped for child bearing.
One would think... enrolling one child, just one, into remote learning for the semester would be totally fine. Checking in on most families, regardless of their school situation during COVID-19, everyone seems to be doing okay… this is your gentle reminder to never compare your situation to others. We have no idea what is going on behind the scenes of those (adorable as they may be) back to “school” photos this year.
Likely, all of us experienced some form of the zoom faux pas and videoconferencing fatigue over the summer. It’s quite humorous hearing other people's conversations that weren’t invited to the party. I sat in on a meeting this summer with a group of adults unfamiliar with zoom, and it took 30 minutes just to get everyone squared away. And that was with adults.
But this e-learning in elementary school takes things to an entirely new level. And as much time as I spent preparing a cozy, quiet space for my child to study at home… I couldn’t have ever prepared my brain for the sheer chaos we are currently experiencing through e-learning. Without our normal schedules and support systems in place, we are dealing with unusual behaviors, added stress, and trying to keep our mental and physical health intact. Some days are far better than others. Here’s what I know, right now at this moment…
We are starting to fall into a consistently inconsistent schedule. And it looks a bit like this…
We wake up after having stayed up too late, because it still feels like summer. Going to bed early on a weeknight when you are literally just rolling out of bed and throwing on a shirt, and entering the next room, is harder than I thought it would be. ...We’ll get there? Or we won’t, and that’s okay right now.
We log in to one of several learning environments, depending on the day of the week and rotating school/ class schedules. Last week we had literature instruction from 9:20-10:30 on Mondays, with Social Emotional Learning (Wednesdays only) at 8:45 and Art and Music on Thursday and Friday at 8:45, (which will be rotated by Library and PE in two weeks). This is followed by the regular 9:20am instruction, noon instruction, and another lesson after that. Science and Social studies are parent led. This rotating schedule means art happens one day a week for two weeks. For a creative child, this stinks. And music only happens one day a week for two weeks. For a kid who adores his music teacher and so looks forward to seeing her, even if it’s behind a screen, also really stinks.
The frustrations and emotions we are going through are warranted.
This morning, I incorrectly read the school email that Library and PE were going to be on Monday and Tuesday as well as Thursday and Friday and not just the later, so we spent our mornings logging into non-existent classes. And today, when we finally felt like we had everything in order, our instructor was having audio issues with the remote learners. Class dismissed! ...This is really fun for a seven year old. And even more fun for a mom who feels like she’s failing at everything before the day has even begun.
But we aren’t failing. This is uncharted territory. We are doing HARD jobs without any kind of manual.
When we get ourselves squared away and everything seems to be going fine, I become a personal assistant and IT guru to a seven year old boss... “Mom, my teacher’s face is frozen and I can’t hear anything!”.. “Mom, the link’s not working…” “Mom… I’m still hungry.” “Mom.. I can’t find the book they’re on!” “Mom, can you go downstairs, I left my writing notebook on the kitchen table...” “Mom, I think they said we had an assignment to work on but I couldn’t hear what it was.” “Why is the sound muffled!” “My back hurts, mom.” “Mom, when is this class going to be over…” Anyone else experiencing this? Just me???
On the blessed breaks, and when the day is done.. I log into my day job, because I’m attempting to maintain some form of employment. But this looks awful because my child’s been in front of a screen for hours already, and he won’t really entertain himself for long periods of time unless there’s someone to engage in. So we have the choice between tv, video games, (more screen time) or definitely not allowing mom to work for long. ...I am forever grateful I am in a position where I can log hours remotely, and with as much flexibility as possible. For the families that don’t have that right now, you deserve sainthood. I have to remind myself (and perhaps we all do) every single day, that this is temporary. But because there’s no end date on a global pandemic, we have to do what’s best for us to safely get through our days.
Your child will be okay if you have chicken nuggets for dinner again. You don’t have to be learning a new language right now, or mastering a new class. You don’t have to look great or be in your best shape. Children recall those first moments in the morning, and moments before bed, more than they will remember all of the chaos during the day. Make those moments really count. We’ll figure out a way to bounce back from the added screen time as long as we communicate that this is temporary and not something we can expect always. Schedules are changing constantly and uncertainty abounds. Grant yourselves the permission to mess a few things up. And grant your children, and your teachers, the same.
Hang in there friends, we are in this together.
Yours truly, SGS