Our Spring and Summer in the time of Coronavirus

We have been so lucky. So, so lucky.

My side gig as a substitute teacher obviously stopped abruptly, and my photography work did too, until mid-summer. However–Mr A still has his job because his company has always been remote. And with no child care costs, we are doing just fine financially. The boys are at home ‘doing’ ‘remote learning.’ So all I do is hang out with/near them the whole day. It’s pretty quiet.

Like everyone else, we created a ‘home schooling’ schedule together. It was pretty idealistic, of course. We didn’t go crazy with the color-coding or anything, but I hoped to schedule time for fun projects that mostly never happened.

For the first few weeks, we were on our own because the district didn’t have or make a remote learning plan. So I had the boys work through a BrainQuest workbook and I came up with some fun games and activities too. I was pretty proud of some of it! We did about an hour of that per day in the mid morning, and then some iPad learning in the early afternoon. (We already had two iPads at home.) The rest of the day was for playing inside and going outside. Very easy-going schedule.

But, after a few weeks, there were more and more battles. Not extreme or anything, but one or the other would be cranky. And I was just over it. So we relaxed things and had days of no ‘school’ work at all. The boys are above grade level in reading and math, and in first grade there’s not really much content they need to learn, so I’m not worried about their academic skills.

We ended the year pretty lazily. I had the boys check in on Seesaw once or twice a week to see what their teacher assigned. We never bothered much with the specialist things, but the boys did seem to like the story-reading ones (maybe by a librarian? I’m not sure who everyone was). I did have them do school apps on iPads most days, either a reading app (Lexia, MyOn) or a math app (Khan Academy, Dreambox).

When “summer” started, we solidified our routine of iPad time in the morning (it started as an hour and a half, though it often stretched to two; later in August I tried to cut that down to an hour)–I usually asked them to do a school app for the first 15-20 minutes, and then they could play games. Then they would play around the house and eventually I would try to get them out of the house. We have a few standard park destinations but I’ve been trying to find more and explore new-to-us places. We’ve visited a handful of beaches around town, and a few river areas farther out of town. We are obviously still keeping social distance when we go out. And don’t yell at me, but if there aren’t other kids around I let mine play on a playgrounds. The freakout about transmission from touching things hasn’t borne out thank goodness, so to me the playground thing is only a problem of having too many kids close together.

It’s been good and bad for me. I’ve enjoyed having the flexibility to do whatever we want and not have to force the children to slog through things they don’t want to do. I like that our schedule has been so open and we can go to a beach on a Tuesday afternoon if we want to. The boys are holding up pretty well too, because they play with each other so well. They have their best friend in their house with them, 24/7. 🙂 We’ve had a couple distanced playdates this summer and they really enjoyed those, and I keep kicking myself for not pushing myself to schedule more.

The bad is also that flexibility and open schedule. It’s hard to get going if there’s nothing we *have* to do. One or the other boy will complain of being bored sometimes. But they could and have play at home all day with each other.

And of course for me, I am in suspended animation. I’m just kind of … sitting here. If I go up to my office, someone will whine about something or call my name every five minutes. I can’t go run errands easily because I have to be here to … sit here. I’m not exactly parenting or even supervising much. There definitely have been times where I say, Go play outside! and then I don’t see them for an hour. Our neighborhood is very quiet and safe and there’s a school campus close by they can wander. So things could be so much worse and I basically have nothing to complain about.

We have been healthy, stable, and again, very, very lucky. 

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