Virtual Home-School

S reading in our yard. Another activity she loves to do.
Image by @purpleglassesFLDE

“Funny, reely,” he said. “You spend your whole life goin’ to school and learnin’ stuff, and they never tell you about stuff like the Bermuda Triangle and UFOs and all these Old Masters running around the inside of the Earth. Why do we have to learn boring stuff when there’s all this brilliant stuff we could be learnin’, that’s what I want to know.”

There was a chorus of agreement.

— Good Omens: The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch
by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman

Despite the anxiety that this uncertainty in the world brings, at home, things have been somewhat calm. It helps that while my husband is still working, they are only doing cases that are essential (he’s a surgeon), so he actually comes home at a resonable time. I am also fortunate enough that my mom got stuck here. She came for the week of spring break, and stayed once her flight got cancelled. So we’re home, but we have an extra adult too.

My oldest (age 8, 3rd grade) has been doing school-from-home for 6 weeks now. The school has been great at sending work assignments. They have everyone set up on microsoft teams and I really only need to help on Mondays when we print out the schedule of to-dos. Printers really help for this! At least for my kid, being able to check things off a list that she’s completed, feels very satisfying. The teachers aren’t doing any virtual class, but they do post youtube videos for their morning meetings and the music teacher posts some great classes. There was one about sound waves which had a really fun app to play with! All three kids enjoyed that class.

Other than school work, I’ve been very flexible with screen time. Whereas we usually only allowed screens on weekends, I now allow screens all day. A few days ago and we watched some of the random youtube vidoes she has been watching. Videos of kids playing with lego sets, or of kids going to fun playgrounds. It feels like how I like watching someone else renovate their house, or find a house to purchase.

Since she needs little to no help on her online assignemnts, to keep her engaged I have added some extra virtual lessons. Once a week, she does a math class with Revolution Math*. We actually started last year, in second grade, and have kept going this year. It is an online math class with a teacher and a maximum of 4 students. They use zoom and have a story that they follow and do math to solve problems. The kids take turns reading different characters in the story and the welcome box has facemasks for each of the 4 characters they can use. It has been a really fun way to increase confidence in math and it is extra practice for learning concepts. She also earns gems in the class which she can use for prizes. So far, she’s chosen a box of origami paper, a tiny unicorn, a friendship bracelet kit, and a fidget spinner. I think she’s saving up for the fitness tracker next.

*Because of everyone being home, they gave those of us using Revolution Math a code to share. So, if you’d like to try it for your kid, grades 2-5, use the code CARGAB2020 at checkout to get a one month trial of 4 classes for $1. We will get a small comission, and are trying to choose a cause to send that money.

Twice a week, a good friend, teacher, and previous babysitter from Pittsburgh does a virtual class with S. On their first get together they talked about what they were going to work on. They decided on a Book Club. So far, they’ve written a 9-chapter novel, read a book together and now are working on other things. This friend is an amazing educator and wonderful person. It has been a great break for S from school work to learn things she chooses. It is also so nice to reconnect with a friend.

I also had S come up with a few goals for all this time at home. It is probably time we upadate those, since she won’t be going back till August (hopefully school’s will be open again in Florida in August!). One goal was learning how to type. Typing Club has been fun and entertaining. She was very consistent using it the first few weeks and now has tapered off. We’ll see if it will be interesting again over the summer.

The other major item we were trying is learning to ride a bicycle without training wheels. This is the first place we have lived where we have enough space, and I have enough time, to actually work on this. So far it has been frustrating for all of us. Anyone have good tips for teaching a child to balance? For the other two I have gotten a balance bike and hope they will learn on their own #delagatingforthewin.

I would love to hear what your kids are enjoying in this crazy time!

2 thoughts on “Virtual Home-School

  1. E (also 8), was so terrified of biking at first. Like swore that he was going to die the entire, tortured time. It was awful. It wasn’t until last month that he’s been able to do it. I gave up on training wheels (they’re annoying), and let him get used to moving with the bike on a flat surface and no pedaling. The tricky part is finding a lightweight bike that’s the right height so they’re comfortable pushing along with their toes and no one holding it. (I did hold the seat for some of the time while he got comfortable with the feel of the steering, but I don’t think it made a difference one way or the other.) Eventually, he braved the pedals and a month later is now doing some hills and one-gear change!


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