Friday Good Things, Obligatory Edition
Friday Good Things: FIGHT THE POWER Edition

Homeschool-Ish

The three worst words in the English language:

"Mom, something happened!"

The code for the Google Meet isn't working. The Zoom call froze. The video isn't loading. I can't hear anyone. No one can hear me. I can't find my headphones. I tried to unmute myself but accidentally hung up instead. I hit submit on my quiz too soon! I wasn't done! It says to search in MackinVIA for "marshes and wetlands" but nothing is coming up. How do I find PebbleGo? Or DreamBox? Or Lexia? Do I click on Modules? Or Assignments? Where's Discussions? It says "Access Denied." The computer says there's no printer connected? The computer says there's no internet? How do you attach a photo? What's an inbox? 

Sigh.

Let me see. You probably copy/pasted it wrong. Open a new tab. Hit refresh. Enable audio. Click join with video. Check your volume. Check the basement. Click rejoin. Message your teacher. Let me see. You typed "morshes and wetbands," sweetie. Click this for the text-to-speech thing, wait, hang on, let me see. First go to this site and then click that and then scroll down. It depends on the teacher, which Canvas square is your math teacher again? Let me see. Bring it here. Hit log out and try again. Let me see. 

I DON'T KNOW HAVE YOU TRIED UNPLUGGING IT AND PLUGGING IT BACK IN AAAAHHHHEEEEEHHIIIIII.

I wouldn't really call what I'm doing these days "homeschooling" so much as constantly playing on-call tech support.

With a big side of micromanaging, because leaving them too much to their own devices means by Friday a bunch of Big Brother-like emails come in like, "Students are required to spend blah blah number of minutes per week on blah blah and blah. The data shows that YOUR CHILD spent less than 14 seconds per day on blah blah and blah like what are you EVEN DOING OVER THERE."

Noah has two live class check-ins per day, Ike and Ezra only have one per week, but everything alternates between an A Week and B week schedule. Ezra has a weekly Zoom call to support a special needs friend's social skills goals. Ike has multiple extra small group meetings per week and we overslept for three of them already because I'd accidentally added them to the master calendar in June. Their afterschool art class is now virtual with a live weekly "art show" on Thursdays and then there's the music lessons on Zoom and teleheath check-ins on Doxy.me.

I have 10-minute reminders set for everything so my phone is buzzing at me basically every 45 minutes between 8:50 a.m. and 3:40 p.m., so I guess in addition to tech support I'm now the goddamn hallway bell. 

It is now past noon and while Noah has been diligently going through today's academic checklist from his ever-deepening Couch Groove, I also keep hearing the telltale laughter of Dicking Around On YouTube instead. Ezra and Ike are in the basement, both deeply engrossed in a Lego building project and even more deeply committed to pretending they cannot hear my repeated calls to Get Upstairs And Get Your Blah Blah Minutes In On Blah Blah and Blah, I Am Not Getting Email Shamed About This Again, Okay?

(Last week I came down on them a little harder to back away from the Legos and get working, and Ike shrieked, "Are you really going to be the type of mom who doesn't want us to build Legos together??" Son, I haven't washed my hair in a week or fed you a proper lunch in a month, I don't even know what type of mom I am anymore.)

In summary and summation, if anyone were to ask me how homeschooling is going my honest answer would be that nobody is day drinking yet, so...pretty good, I guess? 

Comments

Sarahd

I thought I was grateful to have a couple of high schoolers BEFORE I read this post. Now I know I am! And their school basically said "if you were passing before this all happened, you are now promoted/graduated! Yay! Now here are some work sheets to do you know, if you wanna". Your story made me a sweat a little on your behalf! The semester has to be nearly over now though, right!?

Lisa

Our school ended the school year a month early. Thank the gods.

Rachel A Beto

I'm thinking about copying and pasting this into my own blog and putting my name on it because THIS IS MY LIFE NOW. I wince like someone is about to hit me with a stick whenever I hear, "Mom? It isn't working!"

Karen

http://www.stayfocusd.com/

This site is handy, you can block a lot of sites, and you can change the number of minutes one can be on those sites, yada yada. I don't know if you can keep kids from messing with it, but as long as they don't know how to access it via the bookmark icon (maybe there's a way to disable that) it might work. So if they've been dorking around on YouTube for 10 minutes, and you gave them only 10 minutes, they get a message that says "SHOULDN'T YOU BE WORKING?" And once you burn through those minutes, you can't add more minutes that day. Works for this easily distracted adult!

We've homeschooled all the kids' lives, so my only other piece of advice is have all the computers in a common room, close to the kitchen or main area of the house where you can monitor. We have all the younger kids' computers in the same room as ours--it's very handy to be able to wander in and say, "Yo! How's it going there?" as they quickly minimize the Fandom page they were avidly reading. Eventually I will get StayFocusd on their computers, maybe, but for now just knowing Mom and Dad can wander in (open doorways) at any time seems to be working nicely.

Also, creating a list of what they need to get done before certain coveted activities is key. Yes, you can play with Legos, AFTER X number of minutes spent on academic work. Lately lunchtime around here has been combined with board games at the lunch table---when the game is over, lunch is over, clean up and get back to academics. Or we go for a walk to break up the work.

Feel free to ignore my assvice, if assvice it be.

Kati

OMG YOU ARE IN MY HOUSE! I have often related to your stories, but I literally could have written this. I don't ever say I'm homeschooling, I'm tech support.

Olivia

I’m a teacher in England. We don’t stop school til July. There are plans to reopen but they’re looking unlikely. It is already not working for families (or me! It’s not enjoyable for us either!). 2 more months potentially. Gaaaah.

Sarah

That was a heavy guilt-trip from Mr. Ike. My kindergarteners have iPads provided by the district and I am doing many of the same things you are to get the work done. Good luck!!!!!1!

Carolyn Allen Russell

HAHAHAHA, I just got off the phone with my sister before reading this when I'd complained that my husband has normal schoolday expectations for the kids (one of whom is homeschooled anyhow, so you'd think it'd be easy for him to continue his normal routine, except his normal routine doesn't include NEVER GOING ANYWHERE and also his sister is now home from school and seriously messing with his normal day!) whereas I've been sick for 5 weeks now and am just physically and emotionally wiped out. So if the kids will play nicely so I can sleep until 10 and THEN I'll start bugging them to get to work, I'm fine with that! ;) (They're not getting any social skills practice at school, so I'm considering playing together part of the required school day!) :)

Liz

Loudoun County still has classes going, but they aren't required unless you want to boost your grade. My 18-year-old high school senior has unequivocally said, "no thanks" except for his AP Art class, in which he must ship 13 pieces of digitized art to the College Board next week. How many has he gotten done, who knows! I asked, and he yelled at me. :D

Winterhart

My gosh. I've just a kindergartner, and we've been day drinking and playing Animal Crossing like it's my job since just about day 1. I can't imagine trying to do it x3 and keep everyone alive, let alone schooled. You're doing amazing, Amy!

Julie Hyzy

I have never been so happy to be an Empty Nester!

Katie

Oh I feel you HARD. My job has been great about allowing us to work from home but still want us to do 8 hours per day in front of a computer that times out in five minutes. So that’s an extra wrinkle.

We’ve got CBT and OT and homeroom and weekly check ins and daily classes and I’m over it. A teacher emailed me asking for us to do a home made color wheel with found objects and I just...NOPED and told her it wasn’t going to happen.

Jeffiner

My kid isn't scheduled to start Kindergarten until this fall, but if she were in school, I think I would have told the teacher NOPE and just unenrolled her. Summer vacation starts in spring this year, kid, congratulations.

Heather

Mine are 4 and 7. The 7 year old has ADHD and ASD and cannot work independently. The 4 year gets sent to his room with his tablet a lot to do Letter School or ABC mouse even though we both know he’s watching PJ Masks. He’s ahead academically and still has another year of Pre K so I’m not sweating it too hard and we do the activities from his teacher whenever. The 7 year old gets distracted by a passing dust mote (even with meds!) and is the reason I drink at night. 24 more days.

Carissa

"I don't even know what type of mom I am anymore." Mmhmm. I am here with you.

Laura

CAN I GET AN AMEN?!?!?!!?!? I feel you. And ALL the commenters. Oh vey.

Lauren

AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAND HOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOW.

Seriously.

So of course they are adding live sessions for the elementary kids. Starting next week. Have you gotten those emails? Now two per week! Yay!

Stephanie

OMG. As much as I hate all of this quarantine stuff, I am grateful, every damn day, that my kids are in college and I am not at all responsible for their learning right now. I would be losing it, daily. (I mean, I already am losing it, pretty much daily, but not about trying to homeschool my kids.) I feel for all of the parents of school-aged kids right now.
I am so very tired of living in interesting times.

Katie H.

I feel so guilty because I have an only child who is 14 and VERY vigilant about getting her school work done. I have NO earthly idea how you moms are doing all of this AND working AND keeping the household going AND trying to hold it together! I sincerely have the utmost respect for what everyone is going through and I hope it gets back to some sort of normal soon. SENDING HUGS!!!!!

Emily

Feeling you! We're both trying to work from home and "homeschool" a kindergartener. On the one hand... it's kindergarten. On the other hand.... we still have to spend 15min per day on Lexia and DreamBox, AND a half hour Classrooms meet every single day that also happens to fall on my one standing meeting for work every day. And since she can't read yet, we have to hover over her shoulder for each and every assignment, including specials (!!!!???!!!) with actual due dates *screams into the abyss*

Her teacher is being really understanding, of course, but I'm naturally the "school is important type", so the seemingly endless list of assignments we're never catching up on is extremely stressful.

Hang in there, fellow parents!!

tadpoledrain

I am a (special education) teacher and I can pretty much guarandamntee you that at least 75% of the parents in your school are getting those weekly emails. Particularly in special ed, I think many of those follow up emails are to get ahead of lawsuits -- schools want to show that they provided x, y, and a, but families chose ("chose") not to access it.

I currently get about 30% participation in anything I do live, and about the same percentage for overall work completion.

I do not have a single student doing everything they are "supposed" to be doing, not that I expect that they would. My school tells me I have to assign a certain amount of stuff.

Instead of spending my days with kids, I'm spending the same amount of hours mostly filling out paperwork and documentation.

This sucks.

Dianne

I can't even imagine. My youngest is a college junior and has come home for...a while... She finished finals last week and all I did was ask her about her classes and what they were doing, because dammit, we are still paying full tuition at a private university. A neighbor is a middle school teacher school in a lower income neighborhood - and distance learning is pretty much non existent because many students don't have wifi access at home. He was preparing packets for students, and said he was getting participation from about 10%.

Melissa

This:
"The data shows that YOUR CHILD spent less than 14 seconds per day on blah blah and blah like what are you EVEN DOING OVER THERE."
This sent me straight over. My kids are doing it but the app they are using regularly just .....doesnt submit what they submit...and then erases it. The only thing less fun than homeschool assignments is doing them ALL OVER AGAIN. SO many Big Brother emails...so many responses I have to delete and restart so that I dont get my kid failed for my bad attitude.

Kate

My bright 13 year old was just diagnosed with ADHD, disgraphia and a NVLD right before this happened so needless to say I’m not equipped and opted out except that he do the bare minimum to pass. I can’t stay on him while I work at home 8 hours and I damn well am not forcing him or me after work. All I care about is his mental health which thus far is good. But those constant school emails crush this people pleaser.

Dori P

Yeah, I'm at the point where I barely even have my kids to the specifically noted "graded" items. We both are working from home full time and are on lots of meetings/calls so there just is no way to for either of us to make sure the kids stay on task. Instead, they've both ended up teaching themselves life skill related things. My 9YO has been learning to make some of his own meals and my 6YO randomly decided washing dishes by hand is super fun. 6YO also just up and taught herself to ride a bike a couple weeks ago. So while this stuff isn't "school", I think they're fine. I'm still stressed like crazy and have ups and downs, but I am kind of whatevering the school bit at least.

Melissa

Montgomery County has daily class zoom check-ins for my 1st grader but they are filled with the teacher saying things like "you can choose to do your reading assignment before class or after class, whichever you prefer" and "If you'd like to do science there is an optional assignment but you definitely don't HAVE to do it" and don't get me started on the utter tripe of "so everyone NEXT WEEK IS SPRING BREAK THERE WILL BE NO SCHOOL BECAUSE IT IS SPRING BREAK AND SPRING BREAK IS A BREAK even though we just took a two week break to get ourselves sorted on this distance learning idea which we're still not but BREAK!! It's on the calendar, it's a BREAK! NO SCHOOL" The flames flying out the side of my head over that one finally subsided. Because guess what, if you give a 7 year old the choice to do whatever the hell she wants all day, she's going to want to watch Netflix, play on her ipad and play with her toys in her room (reenacting stories she watches on Netflix obviously.) She doesn't care that mom and dad are still trying to work full-time jobs and she certainly doesn't want to anything homework adjacent that the teacher has explicitly told her she doesn't have to do.

JulesInSTL

I am the person who NEEDS IT support. I'm not the person meant to be PROVIDING IT support to small, untrained coworkers. Send help. And margaritas.

Andie

My husband is a half-time special needs teacher and the grandparents live with us and we are still finding it hard (K, Gr 3 and Gr 5)! We consider a day successful if no one tries to run away from home or goes to scream in his/her closet. Grade 5 is pretty independent, Grade 3 is ADHD class clown, missing entertaining his friends in person so tranfering his skills to his class meetings, and Kindergartner doesn't want anyone who she's related to telling her what to do! Hang in there everyone, summer holidays with no camp is just around the corner...

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