Preparing for “Not Knowing” What School Will Look Like
Our most unusual school year ended on May 27th, after nearly 8 trying weeks of remote learning. The State of Illinois mandated that elementary school children were not to be graded on their work, so it was a bit of a free-for-all in our house. I made up a routine for a basic structure to the day, and then asked at the end of the day “did you get your work done?” as we tried to two adults working full-time, a 4th grader, a 2nd grader, and a toddler.
This laid-back approach to school was fine until my 4th grader’s teacher contacted me that he had not been turning in his math, with only about two weeks left in the year. In “Beforetimes” this was very unlike my son. The teacher called it a “hard lesson to learn,” expecting him to catch up in the remaining weeks of the school year.
My comment back to the teacher was that we are asking these kids to self-manage their work, skills that kids even much older have difficulty mastering. I then sent a (gentle) email to the principal, asking that we strike a balance in how much parents are expected to oversee work, especially if school looks differnt in the Fall.
The further we get into summer, the more I think that the school year will look very different in the Fall. We could have classes half the size of full capacity and maybe only going into the building two days per week. I hear murmurs of a Fall semester that ends by Thanksgiving, in anticipation of a second wave of coronavirus cases.
While I was content to sit back and write off the remainder of the school year for Spring 2020, I know that long-term something will need to change in our household. And I have to start looking at the mentality of “long-term”: that until a vaccine becomes widely available, school could continue to look different.
This summer, we have been without the normal full-day camp that my children normally attend. I usually send them to a Montessori school in the summer, where they have a combination of free choice time, learning activities, and outside play. My older son cried before the school year, upset that “summer isn’t going to be as fun this year.” And I told him that was likely true, but that we would do the best we could.