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Homeschool is Officially in Session

Homeschool is Officially in Session

posted by Karen Quinn, The Testing Mom - March 27th, 2020

Today Joanne is back, sharing her Surviving Sudden Homeschool life. Perhaps you caught her daughter’s homeschool detention song on our Testing Mom Facebook page this past week–be sure and listen!  Joanne and Karen are meeting Monday nights for our NEW live event called 2Moms@Home. Be sure and join us there in-person! Without further ado, Joanne shares her first full week of schooling at home!

Homeschool is officially in session. Truth be told, “Mommy-homeschooling” began last week, but now that the school is actually involved, it’s a whole new ballgame. Now we have Google classrooms, Zoom meetings with their classes, and all the teachers that my children have are posting assignments and activities to complete. I move between feeling like I have a good grip on things to falling completely apart. I remind myself to stay calm in front of the kids, but that swear jar sitting on my kitchen counter is filling up a whole lot faster since we began this quarantining. 

The kids’ teachers are seeing a whole new side of me. I have always tried to give teachers space when it comes to my kids. Obviously we work together if there are any issues, but overall, I want them to feel they can have a relationship with my kids that isn’t going to be picked apart by me. I’m not going to lie…that isn’t the case these days. If I’m not texting them to ask “just how serious are these deadlines?”, I am eavesdropping on their online check-ins to see if the kids are getting any further homework guidance to make our lives a little easier. I fortunately have a really strong relationship with these wonderful individuals, but I’m sure they’re not exactly thrilled to see my name come up on their phones every day. In fact, my oldest’s teacher answered my call yesterday with, “Hi Joanne, don’t stress out about that email I just sent.” Hmmm… well played. I did pause, JUST for a moment before I went into my rant. “How can the school expect us to keep up with this? I’m trying to hold down a job while teaching 4th AND 2nd grade?! Do they REALLY think I have time to oversee this? I would love to be all “Netflix and Chill” right now, but I’m drowning over here in 4th grade essays and science assignments!” I want an understanding of what my kids are expected to have completed during these strange times. I want to have clearer guidelines as to what they will be held accountable for. What is going to “count” and what is going to be “forgiven”. I also want to know what happens if one of us becomes ill and we have to start worrying about cross contamination and survival. What is the school going to expect of us then? I force myself to take deep breaths all the while watching the door to the laundry room with fear that one of the kids will find me melting down and find my hiding spot for the Oreos. 

I spend a good part of my workday doing research. I am a “details” person who enjoys finding out the “whys” and “hows” of whatever I’m working on. Currently, because of my work-from-home-while-running-my-own-elementary-school-situation, I have been reading a lot about how other parents are coping. It has helped me to realize I am not alone. There are so many parents who, like myself, find themselves trying to establish a balance between the roles of teacher and employee, with being a parent just trying to keep their family healthy and safe. I spend a good chunk of the time reading articles from the Child Mind Institute. The importance of calm supportive parenting is strongly encouraged and I find the advice from their site to be reassuring and informative. They remind me to be flexible, both with our schedule and with ourselves. How I behave during this time of uncertainty, and how I face these challenges, will be what affects my children the most. By providing them with a cheerful and optimistic example will hopefully influence them to follow suit, if not now then later, when their own lives turn upside down and six feet apart. But then I log into Google classroom and I feel my anxiety rise all over again. 

Let me put this out there for the universe: I don’t want to be a teacher. It hasn’t been on my “What do you want to be when you grow up”-list since I was an overachieving, teacher suck up, 2nd grader in Mrs. Jones’ class. What I do enjoy is SUPPLEMENTING my children’s education. I loved the early years of blocks and letters, then teaching them to read and write, now giving them “mommy homework” on summer break to help avoid the dreaded “summer slide”. Even giving them extra writing assignments on school breaks to help boost that ELA score, all of THAT, I enjoy. I look at it as a kind of checking in on them, even thinking of it as a gentle push toward new subjects they may find interesting. We have a world map in our kitchen, we have word walls in the living room, we have a multiplication chart hanging by the dining room table. I’m a very active “supplement-er”. What I don’t want is to be responsible for their entire curriculum. I also don’t believe I am qualified for this. Most of what they are working on is so deeply buried in the recesses of my mind that I honestly can recall my actual recess time better than I can recall the exploration of the West and 3 important contributions Sacagewea made to Lewis and Clarke. By the way, upon reviewing for that lesson I was so impressed by her. What a phenomenal human being. But I digress. Teachers are not paid enough, not respected enough, and if we learn anything from this time of quarantine it is that they deserve our gratitude and appreciation. Yet I still don’t want to be one. But here we are, trapped in a Google classroom with only more things to print (forget toilet paper- I should have stockpiled paper and printer ink!) and more deadlines looming, with programmed physical breaks and “marathon reading” exercises.  

I can’t help but wish for the good old days of my alarm going off at 5:45am and making lunches and rushing my kids out the door–worrying about after school activities, science fair, and math homework were welcome concerns. I long for the days of signing permission slips for field trips, math competitions, bake sales, and chess tournaments. Until those days return, I have decided that we are going to work our way backwards each week. Look for the mandatory assigned work, finish that as best as we can, and add in more “Mommy work”, more sidewalk chalk in our backyard, more board games, more baking lessons, and more dance parties in the kitchen. We are going to attend the Zoom meetings with the classes and read as many books as we can. We will make art, music and happy memories that will eventually be what we talk about on those busy mornings of rushing around to get out the door on time to make the bus–that bus which will travel a few miles to a school where my kids will be taught by talented, patient, and truly outstanding teachers.

My name is Joanne and I work for TestingMom.com. I co-host 2moms@home with Karen Quinn The Testing Mom. I am the mother of two very active, chatty, and creative kids. We, along with my husband and our cat live in Brooklyn, New York. I, like many, have found themselves to suddenly be a stay at home working mom. It’s not all bad. But it certainly isn’t easy. Welcome to our #CampCorona. #SuddenSAHM

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