Tuesday, September 1, 2020

Here's To The Start of a School Year Unlike Any Other

I took on a new gig the first day of school. It's a far cry from drinking mimosas after drop off on the first day of school. It fits in well with all of my other gigs (daycare provider, blogger about all things kids and parenting, board seat holder for the Des Moines Children's Museum, children's book author), but it's A LOT more work. After much deliberating, so much back and forth, we decided to take the plunge into homeschooling. Now, I add the role of teacher to my resume.

It was not an easy decision, but homeschooling is what is best for our family at the moment. We knew the kids would be in and out of school this year due to the pandemic, so we made plans in mid-July to turn rooms in our home into school rooms for at home learning. Just over a week ago we changed our plans and the school rooms became homeschool rooms.

There's a lot that went into our reasonings for homeschooling. First of all, we're in Iowa. Our rate of transmission is out of control, with no mask mandate, and too many schools reopening as usual. All of this together does not create the stable and safe environment school should provide for my children. We had settled upon all virtual (through our school district), however, after a fun turn of events, our district is suing the state for unlawful control of local issues. In retaliation, our governor has threatened that the kids in our district won't receive credit for beginning the year online (against the wishes of the Depeartment of Education and governor). The last thing I wanted for my children is to be political pawn in a pandemic. It's ridiculous. Then there's the fact that I can't financially stop working. I mean, I could, but it would drastically change our lifestyle and the things we would be able to provide for our children. I didn't feel that was something we should change in the middle of a pandemic. All the while, the back and forth with schools was affecting my inability to plan for my daycare families. It was one big, huge mess. One that was a source of daily headaches and frustrations. Deciding to homeschool brought about a whole new set of worries, but it was also a huge weight lifted off of our shoulders.

We chose to do a Homeschool Assistance option through our school district. Our school still gets the money for our children, we have access to the same curriculum my children would be using in school this year, and we have the help of a teacher who checks in with us. My children also have access to the district resources, activities, and (some) classes if they choose. The wonderful people in the Homeschool office have held my hand A LOT over the last week. As a self-proclaimed homeschool newbie, our teacher and the office have helped me pick out textbooks, where to start my children on this year's learning journey, and so much more. I am eternally grateful to those patient women!

2020 has been real. Real interesting, real frusterating, real challenging, and real fun (no, honestly, parts of it have been). No other year of my life has brought so many changes. 2020 has forced me to do things I never dreamed of. I've had to take a hard look at who I am and push out of my comfort zones. Even though we've completed day 1 and in the middle of day 2, I still have no idea how homeschooling is going to work with daycare in the mix. I have a schedule, but if we'll stick to it or if it's right for us remains unknown. 

Elizabeth (8), 3rd grade

Max (12), 7th grade; this kid asked me to homeschool at the beginning of July because he felt that was the safest option for everyone. I wasn't so sure, but he got his wish.

Harrison (10), 5th grade; it's not lost on me that this one is missing out on his last year at our beloved elementary school. He is handling it far better than I am.

Me (36 1/2), never thought I'd homeschool my children; I told them to let me finish my cup of coffee before the day began. They got an A+ in listening to that rule.

Day 1 went fairly smoothly. The dog had the most issues with all of the changes and was seriously confused as to why the kids weren't in the backyard playing all day. He resorted to looking me dead in the eye, grabbing a daycare toy in his mouth, and running from me. It's both a wonderful thing and incredibly hard to have kids in daycare who have been with me for years. While I know them and they know me (and how far we can push each other before there's tears), they were also super confused about the changes during our days. It will definitely take some getting used to, for all involved!

If the dog could talk: "mom! Mom! Do you see me mom! Mom!"

Learning all about the Tibetan singing bowl, then doing yoga. We split the group into two (one in the living room, one in the daycare room).

New textbooks ready to go! This week we're starting off easy, next week we dive into these.

The kids had to use all of the new learning areas throughout the day, just to test them out.

Harrison's journal from yesterday. **Carrie is our homeschool teacher checking in with us every week and setting up the extras for the minis. Yes, he did ask to watch Bill and Ted Face The Music because my husband felt it was necessary to introduce the minis to those movies.

Not only did life change for poor Zeus, but then the boys left to go get their fabric for this week's art project. He couldn't handle it and cried at the door.

They ended their first day of homeschool with a game of ping pong in the basement. With the dog (who isn't supposed to be in the basement).

Fall has always been a time of change. 2020 is no exception.