In this story from the frontlines of remote learning, a school dean with two children of her own shares how she manages homeschooling her kids/pupils while their schools are closed and they’re all staying home.
My everyday life runs like a machine. I wake up at 4:30 a.m., work out in my living room, and then jump in the shower to quickly get ready before the kids are awake. By 5:45, I am cooking breakfast, setting it out, and then waking the kids up at 6 a.m. to kiss them goodbye and head out of the door. At that time, my husband takes over, and I am off to work. I am Dean of Students at an advanced middle and high school. Throughout the day, I perform normal educational leadership tasks. After all of the buses pull off, I head out of the school and jump into the carpool line to grab the kids.
Balancing after-school activities and homework loads is challenging for any family. Every family has to choose priorities and what is most important to help their child live a balanced healthy life. My kids are allowed one sport and one artistic activity at a time, but even then, commitments get overbooked. This being said, when our school closed last week, I welcomed the challenge of giving up the day-to-day scheduled grind.
My kids are lucky to attend a charter school in which most families have online resources at home. The students who do not have the resources were able to borrow computers from the school. The school was well-prepared, and the students were already using Google Classroom in their daily learning, so our transition was easy.
The teachers post daily activities with due dates each morning. The activities use a variety of resources, from online learning sources such as Lexia and iReady to worksheet pages and P.E. assignments that the students explore their own neighborhoods.
My kids are now waking up a little before 7 a.m., and we are eating breakfast, making beds, and getting dressed at that time. Assignments are posted at 8 a.m., but because we are creatures of habit, we start a little earlier with the silent sustained reading or activities that are part of the daily routine. At 8, the kids login to their Google Classrooms to see what the teachers have assigned. They work independently on their assignments, but show me their completed assignments before hitting submit. Around 9:30, they take a break. This can be anything from going for a walk, riding bikes, or playing a round of basketball. At 10 or 10:15, we log back in and complete more tasks. Depending on how long the assignments are, they work until around 11:30/12, and then we take a lunch break.
I have been allowing them to watch a TV show while they eat, which breaks my “no TV during the week: rule. It has not caused a huge distraction because we go back outside after lunch to get more exercise/free play. Everything must be turned in at 3 p.m., so at the end of the day, I sit with each child and make sure everything is complete and submitted.
Having this extra time outside is the best part of the remote learning to me. With all of the distractions in a classroom of 30+ kids, tasks are completed at a much slower pace in the school. At school, the kids get P.E. once a week and a 20-minute recess once a day. This doesn’t meet the standards set by CDC for youth physical activity. Without distractions of classmates, the kids can get out and move more, which has helped my kids become calmer and more focused while doing the assignments.
I am at an advantage to the average parent. I have experience in the classroom, the resources at home to complete assignments, and my kids attend a school that has the resources. The school already had many online licenses to assist with learning: Google Classroom, Lexia, iReady, GoGuardian, and Achieve 3000. The teachers are able to give assignments and grade them remotely.
Looking at the bigger picture, I would recommend parents to take full advantage of the free resources that are being offered this month to use as a guide. Every state has educational guidelines posted, and many have a pacing guide. Parents should use their state’s standards as a guide. It will take more planning, but all EdTech companies base their lessons on standards and skills, so whether a parent understands the terminology or not, they will be able to align the standards.
Visit GoGuardian's Distance Learning hub for more stories like this one and for resources to support your schools during closures.