Parents Prepare for a Less Than Ideal School Year

This week marks the first week of what will be a unique school year for most. The district, along with many neighboring communities, will be kicking off the year with remote learning. While it’s not ideal for most, parents, teachers and students are learning to adapt and are approaching the start of the school year with creative ways to learn.

For resident Julia Wallerce, living in a bubble is not an option. The full-time working mom of first grader Maya, has opted for a combination of in-home schooling and utilizing the local after school program, For Kids Only (FKO).

“I felt this was the right decision for my family as we have never had the option to live in a bubble due to my husband’s job in a grocery store. As an only child, I want my daughter to be able to socialize and learn with other kids, not spend her days largely being ignored by me as I try to keep up with my own full-time job, which involves a LOT of Zoom meetings. This arrangement also bears an enormous burden and sense of guilt on me as I feel I am failing both my child and my job- and quite frankly failing my child has never been something I’m willing to do, so my job took a hit when we did this last spring. I’ve taken to waking early and starting work hours before anyone wakes up to give myself leeway throughout the day to spend with her.”

To make the in-home portion of learning fun for Maya, Julia found a little antique desk at a New Hampshire craft shop that was a relic from an old turn of the century schoolhouse, complete with an ink feather pen holder. The desk is set up beside Julia’s workstation, offering an interesting blend of work and school time for the mother-daughter duo.

Like other parents nationwide, Julia is keeping an open-mind and hoping for a safe future for her family.

“It’s not ideal and I don’t really know how it’s going to work but we’re going to try. Mostly she will be at the group learning program in small groups at FKO. My biggest concern is her ability to engage and actually learn in this digital, remote manner….it just feels so unnatural, in every way…but so it goes. Experimenting with our children’s’ educations was not something any of us planned on when choosing to raise families, but this is out of our control. We have to do the best we can do given the options that we have. This is the option that I am hoping will work for us as long as we are under these conditions.”

For resident Katrina Donovan, this school year will involve a lot of routine changes. While the start of a normal school year takes some getting used to for her nine-year-old son Robbie, Katrina has learned that it’s nearly impossible to prepare him for what she predicts will be a slightly unsteady school year.

“My son struggles with transitioning from vacation breaks to returning to school during normal times. The first two weeks of school usually come with anxiety, nightmares, and extra defiance. Then, he gets into a comfortable groove. But, this year, it feels like we are all just winging it and changing the game every other week. How is my kid ever going to settle into a routine if everything is constantly being adjusted and tweaked?”

One of the ways that Katrina attempted to prepare Robbie for the upcoming school year was to set him up in a learning pod in July, however; the change from hybrid to all remote shifted everything, and that led to the dissolution of the pod plan. 

Hoping to give Robbie an atmosphere similar to the elementary classrooms, Katrina has set up distinct learning areas in her home. A math center with a mini-desk, a wiggle seat and his math manipulatives are in one section of the house. A space for ELA takes up another area, complete with a desk, paper, pencils, school-provided reading books and a Pilates ball seat. A third space dedicated to social studies and science holds maps and room for experiments.

“We are hoping that providing him with distinct centers similar to ones in elementary classrooms  will help him stay organized and engaged all day long.”

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