Friends & Family

Back to School, 2020 Style

Posing with our Fancy Octopus craft and their Pointillism Paintings

This year, most kids I know are going back to school without actually going back to school. Here in western Washington, school districts are starting the year with 100% distance learning, with plans to adjust to part-time in-person learning as the situation with COVID evolves. My news feed is full of back-to-school pictures of a new style, with students sitting at kitchen tables or even tucked in bed.

But my kids won’t be distance learning. They’ll be in the classroom–which is what we now call our dining room. They’ll have an excellent student-to-teacher ratio–because their teacher will be me.

That’s right: we’re homeschooling. Really, truly, and totally homeschooling. I am teacher, principal, guidance counselor and lunch lady.

We started a week-and-a-half ago.

On our first day of school, wildfire smoke started to make the sky hazy. That killed our PE and recess plans but the air in our house was still lovely, and I focused on keeping the kids busy and in the house for the five hours a day I’d planned to devote to a mix of instruction and creative/educational activities.

We did it. Of course, the smoke got worse.

BUT: the upside of our family’s springtime allergies is, we had two good-sized air purifiers at our disposal, plus a big square filter that we attached to the backside of a box fan. The downside is my husband and I are both super sensitive to any kind of airborne particulate.

BUT: if we kept the filters nearby we were generally fine.

BUT: our kids have been super resilient. So while Mommy and Daddy suffered through sinus headaches, fatigue and nausea, they played and colored and watched TV.

Lots and lots of TV. Some of it educational, most of it Bob’s Burgers.

The second week of school came and Mommy spent most of the day lying down, calling out instructions to the children. The children, remarkably, did a great job following instructions. They played Lemonade Shakeup without adult help, they colored…they played “the quiet game” and they played it fairly well. And when Mommy’s headache medicine finally kicked in, they watched the Coastal Seas episode of Planet Earth and reviewed what they’d been learning about ocean animals.

Yesterday, still feeling gross but not TOO gross, I declared it a “Cozy Day” at school, meaning we would skip the curriculum and read whatever books we wanted, play more games than usual, craft more than usual, and most importantly, BAKE. We made cinnamon rolls and bread sticks: both recipes that call for measuring and dividing dough, so the kids learned to use rulers.

Today, we seem to be used to it. No longer scrambling, no longer flailing. We got used to social distancing and staying home, we got used to cautious outings with masks and hand sanitizer, we got used to smoke. We’re getting used to getting used to things.

Like the frog we found floating in the hot tub, who probably went swimming when the water cycled cooler, then as the water warmed up, slowly boiled to death.

No, I’m not that cynical.

Or maybe I am…


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