We've been dealing with this pandemic for months and it sounds like we will be dealing with it through another school year. Yay Us! Not only has it been stressful on us as adults, it has been absolutely devastating to our kids. We tell them that they can't go to school, the park, nor the movies and they can't see any of their friends. All while trying to explain that this thing that they cannot see is the reason. My oldest child is extremely pessimistic by nature and has declared that nothing is going on. The only reason she can't have any fun is because I'm mean, hilarious but also a little mean.
With school quickly approaching and "virtual learning" being the new norm, I thought I would share a few things that I learned at the end of the last school year that may help others or those who get to face kindergarten without help.
You have to have a schedule. You can't go at this willy nilly and expect your kids to thrive. Once I got over my own issues last March, I started a schedule for all my kids, at the time I had 4 at home. What your schedule is really doesn't matter as long as it is consistent.
Apparently, God is punishing me for something because each and every kid likes to get up before 6:30 am EVERY SINGLE DAY. So their schedules started at the butt crack of dawn. We hit the ground running with the schedule below that I found early on during the lock down.
You can have all the schedules you want but kids aren't predictable so you have to be flexible. I can remember one day none of my kids wanted to cooperate. They were over it and I was at my wits end trying to figure out what to do with them. At that point, you say screw the schedule. I packed the kids up and went to the Greenway for a couple of hours. Once we got back home, they were ready to pick the schedule back up. Sometimes everyone needs a reset and once we got it, we were good to go.
Be creative with how to plan the day. One of the best activities I had planned with my 3 year old was to make things out of toothpicks and tiny marshmallows. I never thought he would be as excited as he was about it, but he played for hours. The internet is a cesspool of crappy stuff, but it is also full of useful information about a child's development. Get to pinning on Pinterest NOW so you're not scrambling for ideas later.
Another big hit at my house was a personalized coloring book, and it was FREE. Hooray Heroes is a company that creates customized books with your children in them. They're cute and all but I'm not paying for them. However, they have free customized coloring books found here : https://hoorayheroes.com/stories/freebies/. These things are adorable. You can customize the way the kids look from a selection of presets and then they send the pdf file to your email. Print it out and you have over 16 pages of story and coloring.
Get Materials Together
So I feel like this one should go without saying but I'm guilty of this. I automatically assumed that all I needed was in the packet that I picked up from school, I WAS WRONG. During the first week of virtual learning in March, my oldest had to make a collage. I haven't bought a printed copy of a magazine in years, and I didn't have any printer ink. She drew that collage and was MAD. Therefore, I strongly recommend looking at all the assignments for the week prior to starting. It will save you, and your child, a lot of headache.
Your Child is More Important
After a while, the school work became more about checking things off the list than making sure that she got anything out of it. The work was redundant and half of it wasn't getting sent back or checked by the school. I started to pick what was important and it cut her work load by over an hour. I felt that she got the same educational information from much less and it helped our emotional and mental health.
Have a Space
Have a space dedicated to schoolwork, even if its the kitchen table. Just make sure that it is consistent and organized. We did school work at the kitchen table everyday but her school supplies were organized in a caddy with a folder for work. It worked out well and once the day was over, we packed the caddy back up and ate dinner.
Keep it Fun
If your child is expected to do the same thing everyday with no fun, we'll all go mental. Keep the fun in things for them. Find people who are willing to still have play dates. Try to take them ANYWHERE that you can. This weekend we're taking all of our children to the middle of nowhere. We're literally going on the side of a mountain with a couple of kids metal detectors and letting them "treasure" hunt.
Don't Take it Too Seriously
Hear me out. Yes, our kids education is serious but one day of screwing it up or skipping it won't make them idiotic adults. The more stressed you get about it, the more stressed your kid will be and it's not worth it. At this point, yours, and your children's' mental health is more important than anything. This pandemic has really done a number on all of us. What are well educated children if they're not emotionally well adjusted and socially mature?
In my humble, but not expert opinion, I'd rather have a well rounded child with coping skills, social skills, and a decent education than one who has the book smarts of a genius but is socially awkward and mentally unprepared.
There is no right way. You do what is best for you and yours. Worse case scenario, you screw up one day, have a drink and try again tomorrow.