Categories: EducationFeatured

GeekMom: Remote School: How Week 1 Went for Us

School has popped back in session for my kids. Last Spring, our 4th quarter was handled a lot more casually than some schools. Our kids had already covered the standards for the year, and while work was sent, there were no regular live lessons or things being turned in. Right now, in our area, all kids are doing remote learning until at least the middle of September, depending on the trend our local COVID numbers take. Monday morning was our first day back to school for A (fourth grade) and W (first grade).

Weekend Preparation

We keep these supplies right at hand for live lessons. Photo by Elizabeth MacAndrew.

Over the weekend, the four of us watch the videos our school has put up for how to navigate the online portal we’ll be using for remote teaching. I also round up our school supplies. Michaels’ Craft Store, of all places, has some really good organizing items like rolling carts with different sized drawers, caddies for school supplies, lap desks, and plastic trays with lips that are really handy for containing messier projects and activities. For certain items, we assign each kid a color and made sure to stock them with the supplies the boys’ teachers said they will need at hand. We add small marker boards along with volume-limiting headphones. These headphones were bought only for school purposes and live in the supply drawers so that the kids do not lose them before class time. Having that stuff organized and sorted doesn’t take much time, but leaves me feeling way more ready to take on the week. 

Monday

The kids wake up at a decent hour and start to get ready. It is strange not having to scramble to be out the door at a certain time. I still take our usual “First Day” picture so that we have some sense of normalcy. The boys even have enough time to knock out their reading and Taekwon Do exercises before class start. By 8 AM we are ready to go.

One kid has a slight challenge in logging in that my husband is able to troubleshoot quickly, but things go pretty smoothly from that point. We put the boys on opposite sides of our dining room table (it’s a gaming table with outlets that are certainly going to earn their keep right now) while I park myself in between on the long side. This lets me work on certain things yet still make myself easily available to each kid. The boys are also not on top of (and annoying) each other either.

Class time goes pretty smoothly and our kids adapt decently. They have a few small things to work on independently after direct instruction is over, and one kid gives me a look that says “I have to do other things? I do not like this and your patience level is going to be measured by how many scoops of cookie dough you’ll be eating out of the carton.” Today’s number is about six or seven, for the record.

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The biggest challenge is our fourth-grader knows what assignments they did in class and what they didn’t more than our first-grader does. I could panic, but I know Monday is just a sort of test drive and manage not to freak out. We do everything we think is needed and no one is going to threaten to hold back my kid if he misses a few things on the first day.

Tuesday

The kids start to get a better feel for things today. W still can’t figure how to un-mute himself, but that is quick assist and he has no concept for how loud he is when he speaks with headphones on. Neither does A, admittedly. Still sorting out what assignments the first-grader needs to do. They’re currently all online and while A can handle that better independently, W’s computer and typing skills paired off with the fact that he’s slower at spelling things due to being a first-grader does mean that come independent work time, he needs more direct help and oversight. I think today only took three spoonfuls of cookie dough.

Wednesday

I don’t know if I would say that we have mastered this whole thing, but a rhythm to it is definitely forming. The first-grade teacher starts to send out emails letting us know what’s left to finish after the live lesson portion of the day is done, which is a big help. I’m not always certain on some sections what I should type out versus what W should type out, but I’m not going to panic about it yet while logistics are still being sorted. I need no cookie dough to deal with today’s school time.

Thursday

No live lessons today, just logging in and completing assignments. The teachers are available for office hours if we need it, but we don’t. The boys knock out their stuff with pretty decent efficiency, leaving free time and the ability to get them to their dental check-ups without worrying about missing any class time. This starts to feel manageable. We notice A does prefer to take his Chromebook upstairs to independently work on stuff with fewer distractions and we let him on the condition we can check over the work when he’s done. For activities where W needs to handwrite or draw something, he does like stretching out with a lap desk. Still, no cookie dough needed.

Friday

We are certainly getting a better feel for all of this. The school Google Drive had some challenges for A we have to sort, but we do eventually get it figured out on our own. A does need to get better about letting us look and see what’s going on and not just pushing buttons or navigating us away before we can sort things out and verify everything is complete. W’s teacher let us know she’ll be trying to send more assignments that are done by hand, which alleviates one of my concerns. I’ll see how next week looks before asking what we need to let the kids dictate to us versus what they should type under certain circumstances. 

This week went decently smooth for us. Next week A works his advanced math and gifted classes into the mix, so we’ll see how that changes things up. Each kid also has a small group day, which will add just a bit to what they need to do within the week’s schedule. I’m not certain how this will play out yet, but I feel the biggest thing is to remember to be patient and that the teachers are sorting this as they go along too. 

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