Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Homeschooling, Corona Style

School is canceled starting today for at least two weeks and probably longer, but there's a lot of logistics to consider. How to get assignments, how to teach online, and what to do if kids don't have internet access.  And who will make sure that the kids are learning.
This is not the mug I will be getting for myself.

We kept our son home on Friday and on Monday as well (that's yesterday)

We attempted to have him do an academic schedule of sorts, that worked out a little bit, but there was so much crying and whining and "NO I can't possibly use THAT pencil.  Forget it, I will do nothing for the rest of my life!"  or wheedling about doing work.  I'm not sure how we are going to survive the next two weeks as homeschoolers.

Here was our (now it looks ambitious) schedule.   The idea was for 25-minute segments, with 15 minutes for resting

9 AM:  Social Studies-- watch the first part of Crash Course in World History.  I asked him to take notes, which he did, but he thought it was boring.   I think that was reflexive more than anything else. It turns out he didn't know a lot of the words, so I had him watch it again, and we went over all the words he didn't know.

The words he didn't understand.  I thought for sure he would know ornery and caloric.
9:40 AM  Reading/ELA.  He was allowed to read the LitRPG (literature Role Play Game) novel he's been reading, but I asked him to summarize each chapter after he read it.  This was a huge fight, He eventually agreed.  His summaries were poor (and very difficult to read.)

10:20 AM  Spanish on Duolingo.  He's not actually taking Spanish, but he didn't want to do Chinese which is what he takes in school, and so we agreed on Spanish.  (We are still expecting to go back to Barcelona this summer, although the virus may change our plans)

11-12 PM  LUNCH  Still his favorite subject of the day.
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for my child.

12 PM Writing:  I had him write a five-paragraph essay on why school should only be two hours long.  His essay wasn't bad, but it was only three paragraphs and not that organized.  We are going to edit it tomorrow.

1 PM: Coding/programming.  He wanted to do Minecraft mod coding, which is something he already kind of knows how to do.  We said no, learn python, HTML, javascript, or CSS.  This turned into a big fight.

1:40 PM Math  This actually turned into PE, which was spent playing sports on the WiiU, since it's very cold out.  He went downstairs to do this, which meant he was out of my hair.  This went longer than it was supposed to go, because I wasn't focused on it.binto the next session.

2:30 PM  PE-- we switched this out with Math, which was probably a better idea.

3:20 PM Free choice- no electronics. He ended up sitting and reading and then counting down the seconds to 4pm

4-6 PM - Open play online with friends or alone.-- this was the only thing that really started on time.


  • In retrospect, this seems way too much and too crowded.   But I don't want him on the computer the whole time, and I have other stuff to do that doesn't include sitting with him and coming up with algebraic problems. 
  • His handwriting is atrocious.  We need to spend some time working on handwriting skills.  (I say this as someone with atrocious handwriting.  But mine is (amazingly) better.
  • Being a teacher of 11-year-olds requires either the patience of a saint or the hardened feelings of a serial killer.  Or both.  

Starting today, the school does have some assignments to do, but it will take maybe an hour to do, all in.  There are another 6-7 hours to fill. 

These are the summaries of the chapters he read. Not very full summaries, and Doctor Quality handwriting.
Part of me is -- okay, let's take on the role of home school teacher, and I will finish teaching this year in six days, driving him like a slave driver.  That's what he needs is someone pushing him harder, and then he will see the error of his ways, and become a genius self-starter (like you know, Elon Musk or Steven Spielberg) and then we will be sitting on easy street, watching his royalty checks roll in like the tide. 

The other part of me (probably the sensible part) is saying NO WAY-- give him rules and structure, but let him figure it out on his own.  He will find his own way, and for me to impose my expectations on him (to "tigermom" him, as it were- my apologies for this troublesome phrase- ) is just wrong on a number of levels, and will end up squelching him.  He gets where he gets, and I shouldn't get upset.

I know my reality is somewhere in the middle, but these two extremities pull at me.

I am pretty great with kids, (professional clown), and have a lot of patience for OPK (other people's kids), but little patience for my own child.  I have a low tolerance for my son's whining and carping on little details, and his cleverness in trying to avoid work-- possibly because I recognize it so much in my own life.  When he does that, I get unproportionally pissed off.  (Or when he professes that he doesn't understand something when he clearly does-- but saying he doesn't understand it means he doesn't have to do it.)  #igetupset


So how do I NOT be a hard-ass while at the same time get him to be excited about school, and get him to (MOSTLY) be a self-starter about this stuff?

I welcome your advice and hard-fought stories in the comments.

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