If you read anything I wrote in the past, you probably already know I am a mom of four young children. When I signed up for virtual learning, it was what I thought was best for my kids and for our community. Other than wanting curriculum consistency, with COVID-19, I also knew that gatherings needed to stay at a minimum in order to help stop the spread, and for me that meant in school as well. So here we are, a semester of virtual learning under our belts, excited and ready to make the switch to in-person school.
Here is a preface to what led to my decision for this switch. I say “my” because my husband actually wanted to remain in-person from the very beginning. Back in March, April, May, June, and so on, we all didn’t know much about COVID. I’m definitely one who is still following the rising case numbers almost daily so I acknowledge the seriousness of the situation. I am not here to debate whether in-person school is a contributor to that rise. I am just going by what I know and what I feel is right for my family.
Virtual Learning Begins
Like many, my neighborhood is full of dual-working parents who need our school to teach their children in-person as they work. So when it was time to decide for first semester, of course I was one of the first to jump on-board with supervising my kids’ learning at home to help flatten the curve and also help classroom student-teacher ratios stay low and less likely to be impacted by a possible COVID outbreak. There were also things I personally didn’t like about the distance-learning that we did in the beginning of all of this, but I heard that there would be more consistency with a teacher and consistent curriculum in the 2020-2021 school year, so going virtual made the most sense to me.
When September arrived and we started our virtual learning, we were prepared. Both elementary school kids had their desks, iPads, headphones, and even those dang blue light glasses that everyone kept posting about. We lucked out with two of the sweetest teachers our school could offer. One is actually a repeat teacher for us, and I was extremely grateful! They were enthusiastic, kind, loving, nurturing, and all-around the best virtual teachers. I still don’t know how they do it! The amount of patience these teachers have is beyond!
Virtual Learning Continues
We were charting things, even meals and breaks and PE sessions in between. It felt like it was working… for the first month. I even enjoyed not having to wake my youngest from his naps to go pick up the kids. But all that died out fast.
Then came the whining, not wanting to go to school, and only wanting to do school in the kitchen next to each other with their volume blasting, no headphones because I had to listen to instructions for them just in case they missed them. They didn’t know what time to sign-in unless Alexa warned them with set alarms — thankfully one of the kids did pretty well setting her alarms. Sign-in times were different for both kids, heck their lunch breaks weren’t even at the same time.
It was getting exhausting. They needed my help for all their homework and even regular school work. If I didn’t have my younger two, this might’ve worked well as I could sit next to them when they needed me during class or at least just focus on them and their school. But no, I have two other little needy, clingy babes who need just as much attention if not more. I felt like I was neglecting their toddlerhood, yelling at them to stay in their playroom, as I was still trying to navigate all this virtual learning stuff. I never got the hang of it.
Deciding to Switch
There are people I know whose children are thriving and doing so well with virtual school. I commend them, their children, and their teachers. However, for us personally near the end of the semester, we all just about wanted to give up.
The initial excitement was all gone, and I found myself constantly annoyed by my kids asking for paper, glue, scissors, tape, markers, etc., and then finding the markers all uncapped and drying out with lots and lots of bits of paper everywhere in the house. My younger two sometimes found all the school supplies just mentioned, one waddling around with an uncapped marker with markings strewn all over his body and clothes — I still appreciate that it wasn’t on the walls, but still. The other with stair-climbing shaped bangs and a mullet to top it off because she found yet another pair of scissors sitting out on her sister’s desk. I couldn’t have a designated spot for all these items in their desks because the little ones would always find and go through them when the big ones weren’t looking. I had to keep all their supplies locked away in a room in the basement. Their desks were upstairs, so I was constantly running up and down between floors.
Then another email from the teacher explaining that my daughter didn’t do so well on her spelling test would come. What?! My daughter use to love learning, reading, writing, math, and science. Thankfully, we have very understanding empathetic teachers who emailed their concerns and let us know what to work on with them.
As the day approached to choose our next semester’s learning mode, it a somewhat easy decision after doing the full virtual mode first semester. I really do wish it worked for us, aside from a not-so-great learning environment with the two littles around, my little virtual learners loved their teachers. However, I am excited for them to be in a real classroom without distractions, and I am also excited to spend more time with my two littles.