The sudden transition from “normal” schooling to the virtual variety has come with growing pains for some families not used to having kids at home.
But after a month of distance learning – with around another month to go – families are adapting their routines and making the best out of this unprecedented situation. For parents of kids at multiple grade levels, that can be all the more challenging.
Parent Vicki Wolter has children at Brooklyn Elementary, Oregon Middle School and Oregon High School. She said while online learning has gone very well for her older kids, her youngest, a second-grader, is having some issues with the new routine, including too many distractions at home.
“This is a very big change for him, he does better in the classroom,” Wolter emailed the Observer. “He moves a little slower to do his homework in hopes that I will let him go play instead of school.”
She said her other children, a fourth grader, seventh grader and freshman, are more settled, even though they’d rather be able to be with their friends.
“They just get up and just do their homework,” Wolter said. “My daughter, who is in seventh grade, complains they are given too (little) talk time with her friends or Snapchat, (but) if they have had questions, the teachers are there for them.
“I don’t have any horror stories to tell,” she added. “I think that the school district is doing a great job.”
Lisa Koehler and her husband, D.G., have an eighth grader, fifth grader and second grader doing at-home schooling, and she said it’s been a “very trying” experience so far.
“I am getting into the ‘new routine of helping the kids get through remote lesson plans, keeping cooped-up kids occupied and fed – all while attempting to keep my game face on at work,” she wrote in an email to the Observer. “I have days where I feel lucky to be at home and have this time not to rush around, and then I have days when I stress all day long.”
While Koehler said things aren’t necessarily getting any less chaotic for the family, they have settled into an interesting pattern.
“Every day, I have a daily check in with my seven co-workers, and as soon as it hits 9 a.m., it’s meeting time and my children seem to come into the room,” she wrote. “I am very glad I have a mute button readily available.”
Koehler said since her children have missed out on a lot of spring sports, she’s glad they can at least go outside and play catch.
“My daughter has been lucky to participate in virtual dance,” she wrote. “We hike, ride bikes, walk.”
Karen Kritsch, who has a freshman and senior at OHS, said it was important for her to make sure they had new support and organizational systems in place right away, like scheduling due dates.
“They had to pull out their daily planners that were idle in their backpacks,” she told the Observer in an email.
Now a few weeks into the routine, Kritsch wrote that they are getting into the swing of things, and handle the online adjustment “very well.”
“They find they are in charge of their day,” she wrote. “There is basketball and snacks for breaks.”
Kritsch said the OHS teachers have been supportive, even though hands-on classes like metalworking are a bit different now.
“They are great, asking how are you as well as supporting the topic of the day,” she said. “Perhaps at times with the music or tech ed, there is perhaps a lack of fullest outcome, but this is to be expected during this time.”
And through all the recent changes, Kritsch said maybe everyone has found some value in virtual learning that can be applied in the future.
“This quite possibly has created an opportunity for public school to think of a hybrid model of online and classroom education,” she said.