Parents Call For a “Glass Half Full” Approach To Homeschooling
By Edie Johnson
Area parents, school teachers and officials did some extraordinary work this week, setting up curriculum courses, making sure that lower income ‘at risk’ students had sufficient meals, and offering them Chromebooks so they could continue their courses at home. The school districts pled with state authorities to be more lenient about end-of-year state tests, because it will take some time for their regular courses to bring their skills back up to 100%. Teachers really stepped up to the plate and not only created online courses, but some made video classrooms so kids could learn with their friends just as they do in a school setting. These resources will remain after the COVID19 crisis is long gone as an invaluable tool for students who are ill or disabled.
Homeschooling efforts this week brought parental stress levels up to anxiety attack levels at first. But once they had routines up and running many began to enjoy the extra time with family. Meal preparation was also a challenge, especially with some husbands as well as the children at home. A creative solution was soon found by many caring families who recognized that as restaurants were ordered to be closed, there would be a terrible financial burden on the restaurant owners. Lists began to circulate of who had the best and most economical take-home meals, families usually too busy to cook and bake practiced their skills and the children joined the fun. Everyone was encouraged to do these “Take Out” nights.
As the schooling routines became easier, additional community caretaking began. Teens used their spare time to bring meals to the elderly. School maintenance workers spent endless hours scrubbing the halls with germ-killing solutions. Soup kitchens and United Way increased offerings and the State of New York is offering numerous grants and low interest loans to families whose primary money earner(s) may be laid off for an extended period. Many shop owners pledged to pay workers on furlough anyway, and debt payments were postponed and some eliminated.
Towns made the difficult decision to close Senior Centers and limit Senior bus trips to only necessary health trips, with the buses scrubbed from end to end after every trip. To fill the gap both teens and adults offered to drive them. Shops opened special hours for at risk seniors.
The most exciting part the joint schooling endeavor was the level of curriculum excellence it was brought to. And it was intermixed with some fun challenges, online gym activities, dance routine practice, indeed almost every activity they could participate in at school, all the while learning about the importance of social distancing when people are ill, and the challenges of helping others while staying healthy. Activities were packaged, labeled and often put outside school entrances for easy pickup, all the way from toddlers to this year’s graduate hopefuls. Many parents ended the more rigorous lessons by going on short outdoor trips to outdoor activities, all while maintaining safe space: hiking, playing basketball with a brother or sister, training with an online coach for their preferred coach or simply sticking to a good exercise routine. Resourceful families found an alphabet soup of newly created resources for all ages that were made available both online and on TV, whether it be 300,000 books that the New York Public Library made available, the Metropolitan Opera, art lessons, museums and the like. Dog walking became such a “thing” that those with a sense of humor, but no dog, put leashes on stuffed animals to be “in with the in crowd”.
By and large our communities took the challenge and ran with it. Some students who have gone on Spring Break sent home photos showing themselves breaking just about all of the social distancing rules. They have not only put themselves in danger, but their families, especially any members of advanced age or with immune system weaknesses. Chances are they will in return get a lot more than stern looks when they return home. They may end up experience some extra unexpected social distancing themselves from those who did the work and have made major efforts to keep us healthy.