We’re on Day 3 of distance learning of kindergarten, and I have realized several things:
- Our son has incredible focus and does amazingly well participating in class over the computer.
- We are EXTREMELY LUCKY that this is the case, because man! This is not easy.
- Despite his patience and being engaged, an out-of-home distance learning program is NOT for us.
Now Don’t be Judging
Yes, we had originally planned to put the Bug into a distance learning program.
He and the Bear have actually been back at their preschool since July. We decided that after months of being at home, that they were simply too miserable.
They’ve been going half days, and it’s been like night and day. They are so happy, energized and glad to be surrounded by their peers.
Their groups have been small, and their teachers are all masked. We’ve been very happy with their school’s policies and its cleanliness.
Seeing how happy they were to be with peers, we thought it would be best to enrol the Bug in a distance learning program.
That way, while he was doing school online, at least he would be surrounded by peers and would be able to interact with other kids.
Turns out that’s not really how distance learning support programs work.
Why They’re a Life Saver
First off I should say that these distance learning programs offered by community centers, daycare centers, churches and sports centers are definitely a life saver for working parents.
We know many households of two working parents, and the expectations for distance learning, even for kindergarteners, are quite high.
For kids to be in a place where they are safe, taken care of, and monitors are helping them is very important.
However, we found some issues with the out-of-home distance learning program we tried.
Why It Wasn’t For Us
The Bug was to go to our local sports center, which is part of our homeowner’s association. He knows the place, though the people were new to him.
I had every confidence that the director and monitors would do their very best. Their normal job is to run after school programs, so while facilitating distance learning is new for them, they’re seasoned professionals when it comes to working with kids.
The main issue we encountered was one that I don’t know any distance learning program could solve.
There were eleven children of all elementary school ages in the program. Our Bug was one of only two kindergarteners. The other kindergartener is doing DL from a different school. So while their schedules were similar, they were not the same.
Each kid was plugged into their computer with headphones, joining into their DL classes. I think there were only two kids who were in the same DL class.
The issue is, that even though the monitors and facilitators have the kids’ schedules, within the class periods on their schedule, the teachers have the kids take short breaks.
Especially for kindergarten kids, they’re only doing face-to-face blocks of about 15-20 minutes. Then they get a 15 or 20 minute break before coming back. But if the kids are on their headphones, how are the monitors to know it’s break time? How are they to know what instructions the teachers have given the kids?
Our Bug is a smart cookie, but he couldn’t always remember exactly what his teacher said about what he had to do next.
The result was that he ended up spending most of the day sitting in front of his screen with his headphones on. When he did have an official break in his schedule, he looked around to find that he was the only kid on break right then.
So essentially, while surrounded by other people and kids, he was still alone. It was very isolating for him.
(I should note that had we decided to keep him there, he would have been just fine. But my gut told me that he wouldn’t thrive.)
And So We’re Home
I’m set up in the next room, writing or studying, and I have one ear trained on what’s going on in the Bug’s class.
Whenever it’s break time, he knows how to turn off his camera and either plays happily in his room, or comes to find me and we have a break together.
Because I’ve heard his teacher’s instructions, I know when to get him settled and ready to start class again.
It’s going to be hard. I’m going to feel like I can’t get anything done, and there will be ups and downs.
We may also have to find another outlet for him to interact with other kids. Perhaps soccer, tennis, or something like that.
For now, though, we’ll take one day at a time.
As For the Other One…
The Bear is still going to preschool every week day. He’s completely mad for his teacher and doesn’t want to leave school when I go pick him up.
As I said, we’re taking one day at a time, and if for any reason we don’t feel comfortable, we’ll keep both boys at home and somehow make it work.
For all those who are at home with their kids and are juggling work, my hat is off to you. You are superheroes. Remember:
This, too, shall pass.