At the end of March, I wrote my third post about COVID-19 in which I wrote about my kids’ school moving to distance learning. At the time, we thought we would be going back to school on April 24. Then the date was moved to May 4, and then finally the governor of Texas closed schools for the rest of this school year.
This means that the last 9 weeks of school would all be done online. Now, I’ve read lots of articles about parents or students struggling with distance learning. Parents don’t know how to teach their kids or don’t have the time or knowledge. Students aren’t being engaged, don’t have the discipline without supervision or simply are “done” with school (which would have happened even if the students were in school).
But I have not run into these problems. I worked from home before this and while the kids’ distance learning did/does in interfere with my work, I’ve learned to just make sure I am free in the mornings when they might need help. I can always do my work in the evening if necessary. And while I am not an expect on every topic they are covering, I am good at researching online and if it is math, I simply turn it over to my husband. But really, they have not required my help all that much. It helps that they are in middle school and can work independently (mostly).
There is a big difference in the assignments for each kid. Lexie’s homework usually consists of reading something or watching a video/PowerPoint presentation and then answering a few questions. Jase, on the other hand, has pages to write or presentations to create. While Lexie’s school work is done in an hour or so each morning, Jase works three to four hours each day Monday through Thursday, completing 2 classes each day.
Lexie, who has ADHD, is hard to keep focused. Even on her medication, she feels the allure of her phone, YouTube, her sketchbook, her bed and any number of things that call to her rather than doing the assignment before her. Jase needs no guidance.
My only concern – and one Jase shares – is that while the lessons are good, they only have one assignment per class per week. It feels like they could be doing more. It isn’t like they are attending class. Many times, there is no lecture or even no contact with the teacher beyond an assignment posted in Google Classroom. If they were actually in class, I feel they would be learning so much more. Or perhaps not. Much of the final quarter of school is often spent on benchmark or standardized tests so class time is used for review.
And I do understand that the school is trying to work with everyone’s schedules and abilities, but when they were once having seven hours of school (roughly 35 hours a week not including homework), we are now working at 10 to 16 hours of schooling. They are losing so much by not being in the classroom and it isn’t just the amount of time they are working. They are missing peer interaction, classroom discussions, and hands-on learning and experiments. But I know the teachers were thrown into this, so I try not to worry about it.
There are two more weeks of distance learning left. Then it will be summertime and hopefully they will be returning to the actual school buildings next year.