I Do Not Have Octopus Arms- the Decision to Homeschool

I am already a very busy person. Between working as an independent contractor in music, owning my own photography business, and caring for 3 kids, 2 dogs, and 2 cats, it is a struggle every month for us to make sure ALL THE THINGS ARE DONE. Add in the need for incessant creative music and art projects, the torture never stops.

Painting with the kids

March 13, 2020 was a very important day. It was to be the night of a concert at church, that had well over a thousand tickets reserved. We prepared and prepared and prepared, only to have Covid-19 hit. Things were getting shut down left and right that week, and we were no exception. On the day of the concert, much to our dismay, we limited it to staff only and it turned into an online event.

There are 2 friends down in the front there… 😀

This was also the “last day of school” as it turned out. A day that started off the “Spring of Horrors” that was distance learning. I’m not kidding when I say that there were tears every day. Sometimes my own.

This is an 18 x 24 detailed hand drawn calendar of the three kids’ virtual learning times.

I am not disparaging any teacher or school system. Unprecedented times. They did the best they could! My kids’ teachers were faced with learning a whole new system and way of teaching, and did such with grace, candor and kindness. The kids, while they thought it was cool at first, began to view it as a chore, and I was met with more and more defiance and anxiety as the days went on. Of course mixed with “Why can’t we go anywhere?” and “When can we see our friends?” and “When is the coronavirus goin’ away?” It was not a fun time at all. Among other at-home projects, we made lots of milestone treats.

Meantime, two working parents here- trying to keep it together. Church continued online only, but for months was pre-recorded. So while I was still leading worship, it was very much like the teachers- having to lead with no one physically with you is interesting to say the least. I found, and I bet they’d say the same- two hours in front of a camera felt like a full day of work in person. A strange and exhausting way of life for sure.

Awkward.

Through the summer, we’d been awaiting the news of what school had in store for us. All the while, we considered our options. We already knew distance learning wasn’t for us. Let’s revisit the calendar and times for 3 kids at 3 different times (sometimes overlapping) and 3 different devices. This was when my oldest at 7 yrs old, only had 1 hour, my middle at 5 yrs had a half and hour, and the littlest 3 year old, a half an hour.

Wipe the smiles away for accuracy. And maybe some laying on the floor.

Let’s add in the fact that while my older two loved their teachers more than words can say, they began to fight me every day. My little one didn’t really get it- we just had a big snack time with a “special guest”- his teacher on the computer. He did laugh and wave to them, and try to share his snack with them on the screen sometimes. Lessons were really mostly for me.

The storm-cloud that is fall was looming. We took online surveys. The options were basically 100% distance learning or a hybrid situation. They threw in 100% in person option as a courtesy only, I think. Everyone knew that wasn’t going to happen. The only thing worse, schedule-wise, was envisioning a hybrid situation with 3 kids at 2 different schools. We waited.

The results were finally in, it was going to be distance learning until January 29, 2020.

I had already checked in with current homeschoolers friends, and I checked in with a few more for good measure to weigh all of my options. How was I going to oversee 3 kids being on devices all day long AND schedule, make invoices, learn songs, get to my rehearsals, make virtual tours, floor plans, and home stagings, answer calls, create and send invoices- not to mention the daily house things like, ya know, making meals, laundry, and vacuuming (oh, the life of a shedding dog!)?

I’ll give you one guess who the shedder is.

Everything was pulling me in the direction of homeschooling, so we went ahead and sent our letters of intent for our older two kids. We decided to leave our youngest in, at least for now, because he receives special support for speech and development. And I figured, “how bad could keeping up with one preschool session be?” As it turns out, it doesn’t look too terrible. He will start at 1pm, and basically be 15 minutes on, 1/2 hour off, 15 on, 1/2 hour off, and 15 on. I think the other kids will be able to get a lot of their work during that time, while the little one is busy.

We were still officially enrolled when the schedules came out, so I was able to see what exactly the kids and our family would have been in for. I had anxiety just looking at it! All the overlapping times, the arduousness of it all. I think we made the right decision for us. Now if the kids ever give me the business about doing their work, I’ll just show them this schedule and see which they would rather do. It would have been a full time job just staying on top of this.

“There’s a saying in Missouri, if you don’t like the weather just wait five minutes. In Blaine, with hard work, I think we can get that down to three or four minutes.” ~Glenn Welsch, Mayor (from the movie Waiting for Guffman)

So between the time I wrote this and proofread this blog entry, a big announcement has come from our Governor this past Thursday.

“Citing improved coronavirus metrics, Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan said Thursday that all schools can begin to safely reopen.

‘I am announcing that as a result of our improved health metrics, every single county school system in the state of Maryland is now fully authorized to begin safely reopening,’ Hogan said. ‘There is broad and overwhelming agreement … that finding a way to begin safely returning children to classrooms must be a priority … There is no substitute for in-person instruction.’ “

While there are many views on this announcement (anywhere from outrage to praise), I am grateful we made the decision to weather this storm on our own terms. With the older two on their own homeschool learning path, we will navigate our littlest one’s possible hybrid situation as it comes, though I feel like it’s still a long way off. I’d rather have the other two learning at their own pace in a safe and steady environment until ‘this too shall pass’. And really, I’m excited for the school year to come now. Where there once was dread, now there is a feeling of freedom and fun in our future. I truly feel for all of our fellow parents, students, and teachers for the coming year. I know this is an impossible situation for many, and we will all do the best we can. May the force be with us all.

My husband took this when we weren’t looking. Bay Bridge at sunset.

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