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California Week 2 and 3 of #Quaranteam #MomSchool!

During week 2 our school district added on 4 additional weeks of closure to the existing 3 weeks of closure, looking at a May 4th re-open date instead of April 8th. It feels very different facing homeschooling my kids for likely the next several months (please let school start in the fall of 2020 like normal!!!) versus seeing a quicker end in sight.

During week 3, as I watch the California cases rising and the global situation growing, I suspected that the rest of the school year would be impacted all the way through June. This turned out be correct because on April 1st (really!?! Announced on April Fools?!) it was officially announced that school would be remote-only through the end of school in June. Yikes! Apparently I am now homeschooling my kids for the whole rest of the year.

Being the sort of obsessive over-planner that I am, I put together these two homeschooling schedules for my kidlings and overall I think it has been going reasonably well, despite of course many moments of frustration, needing bonus snacks constantly and frequent movement breaks and lots of flexibility and encouragement. It isn’t some sort of utopian rainbow scenario over here, but I am really proud of my kids and feel great overall.

I also want to say that kids learn in a variety of ways and for many families, especially with both parents working other jobs, doing something like this is both impossible and unnecessary. Kids can learn from a variety of tv programming, video games, and independent time doing whatever the heck in a pile of toys zone of the house! Kids can learn by rampaging across the house while intensely stressed over-worked parents toss some sort of packaged sustenance their direction. If that’s you – you are doing awesome just as you are, and all these impossible and unreasonable suggestions below about what’s working for my family right now should be ignored. The amount of guilt parents feel should be zero. Absolutely zero. We’re in a pandemic, and each family needs to do what they need to do to survive and get through it in one piece.

1st Grader – #Quaranteam Plan:

1st Grade Homeschool Routine

4th Grader – #Quaranteam Plan:

4th Grade Homeschool Routine

It’s been interesting using the learning tool “iReady” which you’ll see heavily featured in my kids’ schedules, which is a supplemental distance learning resource that our school district is offering.

On iReady, the 1st grader curriculum for both ELA (English Language Arts) and for Math is really incredibly well done and I am extremely impressed and recommend it wholeheartedly. For my 4th grader, I find that the math is really well done, but the ELA sections are rather tricky because the ‘wrong’ answers in the multiple choice comprehension and analysis are not wrong enough. For example, on many questions I strongly feel that at least 2 (and sometimes at least 3!) of the presented options are truly correct answers, and it is intensely hard (and sometimes I disagree with the system) about what answer they think is the right one. I could easily write a thesis about why one of the other answers on any given multi-choice section is just as correct as the one the system thought was correct?!? None-the-less, I do still think it is good for it’s array of interesting readings and critical analysis prompts for ELA learning.

I’ve been heavily leaning on Netflix and Disney+ for their excellent science and nature documentaries, which are a key part of surviving each #Quaranteam #Momschool week for sure. There are some great ones! Very captivating and well done options available.

For Art I have been alternating between leading simple art lessons (getting out kid paints and doing a painting activity, or doing a Mo Willems Lunch Doodle video, or learning a bit about a famous artist, etc). For Science I’ve been doing some science observation based things in the backyard – plus some gardening related science. We’ve also done some baby-chick related things watching some agricultural science videos around how eggs are incubated and how baby chicks grow. Those themes are extra exciting for my kids right now because for the first time ever we are getting one-day-old baby chicks this coming week and we will be raising them to have a tiny backyard flock of 3 chickens.

These days I catch myself dreaming about rather inane things – what would it feel like to just hop in the car, not worrying about a mask or germs, and drive to the grocery store and grab everything I want, from maples syrup to bananas to eggs to my favorite cereal (rather than the shelves being oddly stocked and items missing), and what would it be like to pop over to the Starbucks and get a mocha and spend some time alone outside of my house.

Each day under the shelter-in-place (the last time I left the house was March 18th, and that was an essential pharmacy/milk&eggs run only), I find myself appreciating more and more the little luxuries and freedoms that I’d been used to. Alternately, I find myself worrying about the protocols for outside/inside sterilization that we are using and if they are good enough and will keep us safe – things we’ve been doing include:

  • Setting the mail in our garage, letting it sit for 24 hours, and washing hands after finally opening it the next day.
  • Moving packages into our garage and letting them also sit for 24 hours before opening, and washing hands after touching them.
  • Using a face mask when I went to the pharmacy on March 18th and leaving it in my car un-touched for at least 9 days before re-using it again (which I figure effectively makes it re-sanitized, since Novel Coronavirus 2019 doesn’t live on surfaces for that long).
  • We ordered take-out via DoorDash as a special dinner last Wednesday and I used isopropyl alcohol soaked wipes to wipe down each item, removed and discarded what I could out on my porch and took it straight to the trash without bringing it inside, and then the food I transferred each item on our porch into glass pyrex (tossing the original container) and immediately microwaved each food item for 1 minute, and washing hands before touching anything else.

I catch myself thinking – is this paranoia? Is this all necessary? Or is it not enough even and should I be doing more to ensure that the virus germs are not going to reach my family? I just want to do my part to keep my family and community safe.

I fervently hope that this pandemic will cause America to realize that Universal Healthcare is essential and must be implemented. Medical bankruptcy and loss of health care access due to losing a job are both horrible things that people in other countries need not face due to their universal healthcare programs.

I hope also that the pivotal essential jobs such as farm worker, janitor, grocery clerk, and delivery person are seen in a new light and given more respect, but more importantly, MORE PAY – those jobs deserve enough pay for a decent quality of life. I hope that workers join together and that workers and the community at large demand the type of workplace protections (safety equipment, etc) and higher pay that makes the pay commensurate with the essential nature of those roles.

Wishing you and your family health and safety heading into week 4 of sheltering in place.