Back to School...but from Home
Back in March when we first started staying home, it didn't seem like too big of a deal to finish the year online. I mean stay at home, slow the spread and try to make sure our hospitals could handle the patient load. Okay, makes sense, I'm on board.
I ordered a bunch of stuff off Amazon and I created my Pinterest inspiration board and I was ready to have one of those cool learning nooks in my house. You know what I'm talking about right!?
Fast forward 5 months, my learning space did not exist other than the table and chairs we used. The laminator I bought was still unused, the little posters I printed collecting dust...the only thing that we had used well was our markers, watercolors, chalk, and kinetic sand!
As school got closer to starting, we weighed the pros and cons of face to face school (I say we but I think it was mostly me). I was a teacher for almost 10 years, I could teach my own son right? I mean I had a class of up to 30 middle school kids, I only have to teach one 5 year old (and 2.5 year old and watch the baby too). LOL. Yeah, that thought went as fast as it came, I know my limits...
In the end we chose Hawaiian Immersion for him despite all the lingering questions...
- How can I support my son at home, in immersion when he isn't immersed in it at home?
- Will he fall behind with distance learning?
- Should we put him back in regular school? Send him back to his old school?
- We didn't get Kamehameha Scholarship this year...DOE it is...but what about COVID?
- Is it safe to send him face to face?
- Do I want him wearing a mask all day?
- Do I want him home all day?
- Can I manage all 3 kids?
I found myself grappling with so many questions, not to mention Kili and Mehana attend a preschool program (Tūtū and Me) that is now online twice a week!!! How will I do all 3 kids classes and run my shop!
The only thing that kept me sane was knowing that there was a lot of other parents asking themselves the same questions and trying to make the best decision for their keiki. I know my hours are somewhat flexible and I can work in the tiny moments of downtime, but my heart goes out to the families that don't have that luxury...To the teachers who also have young keiki that need their help.
But our choice was decided for us, the numbers went up and many schools went to distance learning for the first four weeks (I think it's four weeks, there's been so many changes in our orders I can't keep up). So all that debating went out the window and we find ourselves juggling 2 distance learning programs.
So what happened to our keiki space? Do I have that picture perfect Pinterest spot?
Creating a keiki learning space in our home has been a challenge. Our home is nice and cozy and our already tiny living space has been taken over by the overflow of my shop things in our dining room (which is now my sewing area). We brought in a small lifetime adjustable 4 foot table (I usually use it at expos) and two small plastic chairs we got from Amazon. As much as I liked the idea of a desk, I'm not ready to commit to that just yet and a table works fine. It was also much cheaper and I didn't mind if it gets dirty with crayons, markers, glue, or whatever activity the kids are doing.
The best thing for us with this space is one rule: No Toys or Distractions Allowed in this space. When school is in session, there is no food too.
But what about Kili? She's 2.5 years old...
While Kaleiʻs Kumu (teacher) provided a lot of work for him to do while we learn from home over the next few weeks, I also decided to create some "school" things for Kili. Since her class is only twice a week, that leaves five days for her to roam the house like a feral animal while we tend to Kalei's work and Mehana who still needs a lot of attention.
Kili loves to do anything Kalei is doing and doesn't like the "baby" workbooks. Why practice doing her letters when she can skip to her name? This girl has a mind of her own! Good luck to her her next teacher!!!
Instead of fighting her I made a ton of copies of Kalei's worksheets he brought home and made some acrylic tracing templates. I would have loved to send her to Pūnana Leo but it's too far from our house and Oahu traffic is...not worth it for me.
I created some learning aids for her to follow along with what Kalei is doing but a little more hands on. I have an interactive ʻAlemanaka and a created a couple of learning aids for her to use. We also have a few math manipulatives I purchased to make counting, sorting, and pattern making a little more hands on.
P.S. I'm working on finalizing this 'alemanaka and making sure it works well before making it available!
Do we do anything else?
I know that each program our keiki attends has their own curriculum. I do my best to support our teachers in their lessons and methods. As a former teacher, it was always the hardest when parents were not supportive at home. I think this distance learning will (if it hasn't already) really open the eyes of many who think teacherʻs have an easy job and get summer off.
A lot of work goes into planning the year and having to move your entire curriculum online is not something that's easy.
I also know that we need to support our keiki in the ways they learn best, be their advocates. Having this time to work with our keiki and watch them learn is a blessing in disguise (even if you want to pull your hair out or maybe need to have that pau hana beverage at the end of the school day!).
This is time that we won't get back and bonus time that we are getting!