In a characteristically epic message, yesterday evening our school district’s Superintendent has confirmed what we all suspected: Schools will open in the fall with only online learning. Students will not attend in-person classes for the foreseeable future.
A couple weeks ago, Dad asked, “What would you change if you knew you’d have to keep doing this for another year?” I’ve pondered this question ever since, because it makes a good point: We all kind of stumbled into this routine. There was no plan. We can all tolerate a lot of mild inconvenience for a while, but when “a while” turns from six months to nine months to a year, those mild inconveniences may become serious irritants that we need to deal with before they get worse.
I don’t want to classify having my darling child home 24/7 as an “irritant.” But it does make working full time difficult. Knowing that the September through who-knows-when has a prospect similar to March through June feels… daunting.
Last year we really struggled to get his schoolwork done. The platform didn’t work for us and Benji got stressed out as assignments piled up. Worse, the poor, overworked teacher provided minimal feedback, limiting herself to just adding the occasional thumbs up or “nice job, Benji!” comment to his work regardless of quality. Once-a-week full-class Zoom calls represented the only real-time instruction. Of the tools provided by the school district, I think doing the online math and reading e-learning benefited him the most, although it was a very low bar.
I had really hoped that, joining the EAP program this year, Benji would make new connections and start really getting stretched academically. That may still happen, but we’ll struggle more as we have to shepherd Benji through his assignments and stop him from spending all day reading Wikipedia and coloring number patterns and countries. I looked forward to him having a teacher who meets him where he’s at and helps him with some of his behavior challenges in a different context.
I feel daunted by the prospect of continuing to deal with Benji and his behaviors all day, every day. Lots of families home school, but we never intended to join those ranks; neither of us is emotionally suited to home schooling. My relationship with Benji deteriorated when I tried to both be mommy and teacher. I’m thankful that my mom has offered to help us, but we can’t ask her to become a second-grade tutor for the duration of the shutdown. We’re Benji’s parents, and when push comes to shove, we have the ultimate responsibility.
We can do this.