Ask the grumpies: Should I homeschool this year?

Lisa asks:

The more I read about experiences reopening K-12 schools around the world, the more it becomes clear that things will be chaotic and unpredictable with openings and closings on a dime. I’d love to solicit the wisdom of the Grumpy Nation about whether it is going to be better to stick with local schools this year and expose parents and kids to all of the stress, uncertainty, risk, etc. or to commit to full-on homeschooling and expose parents and kids to the stress and challenges that not-so-voluntary homeschooling will cause. I’m starting to lean toward creating my own curriculum so that I can be in control of what’s happening and not have to worry about what the school district is doing. But although I have plenty of experience with college-level curriculum development and teaching, I have no experience at the K-12 levels.

This is a really great question.

For me, I have too much work of my own to do to fully home-school and when I’m making trade-offs, a year of my career is more important than DC2 missing out on some stuff in fourth grade.  This may seem ironic given that both of my kids have skipped grades and they have a full complement of workbooks to do (well, DC2 does… DC1 only has a Spanish grammar along with piano and violin, but zie USED to have a full complement of workbooks) during the summer.  But we don’t give them workbooks or have them skip grades in order to optimize them so much as to keep them from bouncing off the walls.  Ideally they’d be getting more challenge in school without the skipping or extra work, but they don’t, so we supplement.  (An exception being the Spanish grammar which really is for remediation since Spanish III is supposed to be tough and DC1 barely scraped an A in Spanish II.)

So, having decided on having the kids at home, we’re going to be following our district’s online curriculum and will supplement DC2 as necessary.  (DH isn’t as steeped in K-12 stuff as I am, so although he could do day-to-day stuff, I would be the one in charge of the curriculum.)  We’re in a state where the K-8 curriculum is light so we don’t have any worries about DC2 being overburdened– we would likely supplement, not change.  (DC1 is taking a bunch of AP classes, so there’s some potential for difficulty there, but DC1 will just have to lump it– we have no plans for supplementation other than music unless zie needs tutoring.)

But it sounds like you’re in a situation where there isn’t an online option.  You either deal with the unpredictability of opening and closing and opening and potentially getting sick or not.

Most kids from stable home environments can handle a surprising amount of instability.  I wouldn’t worry too much about the stress of popping in and out– unless you have a specific reason to believe otherwise (like your specific kid has difficulty with change), they will probably handle it better than you do with the uncertainty.  But the stress to parents and the risk of illness is real.

Plenty of people do homeschooling and many of those who do say it’s only a couple of hours of work each day.  This is probably true.  There are many pre-made curricula you can follow (be careful though, they lean towards fundamentalist religious/stratified gender roles/anti-some kinds of science– make sure you get a good set aimed at more secular audiences).  The trick is that you have to get your kids to be able to work independently.  They have to be able to figure things out from reading or from whatever electronic source you’re using.  They need to be able to sit down and work on things without asking for help or getting distracted every 30 seconds.  This works well with some kids, and less well with others.  (Nobody in our family is looking forward to DC2’s constant plaintive and non-specific, “I neeeeeed hellllllllp,” whine when school starts.)

Another caution:  One of the things I really hate about one homeschooling blogger is how she almost brags about how she’s passed on her hate and fear of math to her kids (especially her daughters) via home schooling.  She doesn’t say it like that.  She thinks it’s genetic or something.  It’s not.  It is 100% taught.  If you hate or fear a subject and can’t pretend not to, just don’t even start.  Especially if it’s math.  If they’re lucky, I end up having to pick up the pieces when they get to college and it’s so sad.  If they’re not lucky, then they’re trapped following less lucrative career paths with a lot of competition.

From what I understand all the rich people are hiring nanny-tutors or getting together with other rich people to hire laid off teachers to do “pods” or “mini-schools”.  If you’ve got money you could do that or you could buy an online version of whatever grade your kids are in (I don’t have links, but I’ve seen people talking about such things on the internet… I know Stanford Online High School has some stuff for gifted middle and high school students, but I don’t know any details… here’s a list of high schools).  We’re not doing that because our main problem won’t be solved with DC2 having an online tutor and I just don’t trust people in my town not to catch Covid at church or a bar enough to let them in my house.

I give you permission (if you need it) to be selfish about your life and your career and being a good role model to your daughters and any future daughters-in-law if you decide not to put a huge amount of effort into home-schooling.  I also give you permission (if you need it) to try out home schooling and see how much time it takes and if it takes too much time or causes too much distress at home to try something completely different.  Just Khan Academy and SciShow.  Just Unschooling.  Just whatever keeps them safe and out of your hair.  Kids can be suboptimized in order for you to get your things done.  We’re talking at most a year here, not a lifetime.  And they will be learning many important things even if they spend the year unschooling.  You will have books and the internet (though be careful about its potential for misuse) and video games and so on.  They will learn a lot of the things we did back in a less enlightened latch-key time about how to entertain oneself so mommy can get some work done.

In terms of online K-8 supplementation:  Khan academy is awesome.  BrainQuest workbooks are great (not a substitute for K-8, but they do hit many of the major points for K-8).  Having lots of books to read around the house both fiction and non-fiction is important.  Epic! has access to a ton of great comic books.  Youtube has neat educational channels like SciShow and CrashCourse.  Minecraft, especially creative mode, is fantastic in terms of developing spatial skills and doing digital art.  I cannot say enough good things about the Dragonbox suite of math games (even for your high schooler!  even for your kindergartner!).  We got DC1 a year subscription to the complete Adobe suites so zie can teach hirself video editing–there’s a student discount for it.  Not cheap, but cheaper than a week of away summer camp would have been. There’s a world of educational activities that your kids can do independently of you–even if they’re not getting precisely what they’d be getting in K-12.

Good luck with your decisions, and remember that you can change your mind (and that you’re still a great mom even if you don’t sacrifice yourself for small improvements in your kids’ education)!

Grumpy Nation:  What are your thoughts on home schooling?  How about supplementation?  If you have K-12 kids, how are you dealing with the uncertainty of the fall?  Or how are you creating certainty?

44 Responses to “Ask the grumpies: Should I homeschool this year?”

  1. gwinne Says:

    Yup yup yup. All this. I’ve posted some on my own blog and will probably update.

    I’m in a community with relatively low transmission; had school “opened,” my younger child (8) would go. They’ve decided online; all I can say is that last spring was an unmitigated disaster (not only did he not learn anything, he actively resisted and got stressed out). I do feel able to “teach” all basic third grade subjects (meaning, I can come up with resources and explain as needed)….is it worth my time? Probably not. But also that feels like better use of my time than forcing him to do online schooling. I explored a “micro school” in my community and it’s not the right one, and I’m not inclined to spend more time looking for one. Honestly (and I might be deluding myself), micro schools don’t feel any safer than actual schools… and I’m really uncomfortable with the equity issues, even as I need to do what I need to do to make it through the year (single parent here!). Next up is a plan to hire a former student/recent grad who is not likely to end up at a superspreader event to spend a couple hours a day assisting with the online learning and just hanging out (omg he talks so much!!! maybe he could zoom with dc2 and that could solve multiple problems)

    I’m having trouble imagining all this.

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      The sister of one of DC2’s 3 best friends just got diagnosed with covid. Makes me feel justified about saying no to maskless play dates. When it’s this prevalent in a town (we’re almost in an orange zone but still in red) you just can’t know who is going to have it.

      • gwinne Says:

        Varies so widely. My state has a 2-2.5% positive rate. Most kids in the area seem to be playing outdoors, mostly distanced, maskless (I don’t know of any kids who contracted COVID); camp is a bit scarier, but they are masked most of the day.

      • nicoleandmaggie Says:

        Our test positivity has dropped a lot in the past month—it was over 25% and is now about half that. New cases are hovering around the 25/100000 people line in the county, but a month ago it was 4x that. Having a local mask order has done amazing things in a relatively short amount of time but our amazing is still red zone(!)

  2. Lisa Says:

    Word on the street is that our district will be all remote for the first 10 weeks, then probably just one day a week. The high schoolers will be fine, although the younger one (starting 9th grade) will need a lot of help. The 5th grader will be difficult. My plan is to choose my battles about what she does for online school, and let the rest go with as little guilt as possible. There will be a lot of guilt, but neither the pandemic nor her challenging behaviors/personality are my fault, and I need to remember that.

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      Choosing battles seems like a good plan. We are very anti-maternal-guilt! (so long as you’re not abusing your kids, of course, which you’re not).

      I have found with difficult kids (mostly not my own, so there may be a difference there since kids know their parents have to love them no matter what) and adults, that giving them ownership and explaining what the problem is and trying to come up with a solution as a team often helps a lot with the attitude problem. Like, here’s what the school needs us to do, or here’s what my goals are, what can we do to move forward in the best way possible? And then brainstorm for a while and ask what they think of each option if you’re the only one coming up with options. And frame everything as trying something rather than this is the way it must be. Let’s see if this method works out. We’ll try it for a couple weeks. (Pomodoro has not worked out for us, but DC2 seems to be back to not needing it?) And if something is stupid but has to be done anyway, acknowledge that, or if it isn’t actually stupid explain why it isn’t. Difficult people really like being listened to (except maybe when DC1 is being difficult and all hir answers are passive-aggressive “I don’t know”s).

  3. Jenny F. Scientist Says:

    My youngest child is five. There is no universe in which we can both work full-time and also supervise a child’s entire schoolwork, because she is FIVE. The 8 and 11 year olds also will not, largely, actually do all their work without supervision. They’ll literally wander off after a butterfly instead.

    To Lisa, I would also say, have you ever tried homeschooling? Even last spring? Because it turns out my children and I all hate it a lot more than we thought we would, even last spring, when I didn’t have any work to do. Some people love it! We are not those people.

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      To be fair, butterflies are pretty cool. I was distracted by one myself this morning for at least five minutes.

    • Socal Dendrite Says:

      Yup. I have a 7 yr old and an almost 5 yr old (her birthday is 2 days after she starts K). Our district’s plan is for 4 hrs of remote school/day (with about half of that synchronous and half asynchronous). When we did online circle time for a few weeks after my daughter’s preschool closed, she enjoyed it but had a pretty firm Zoom limit of about 15 – 20 minutes. And that was with kids/teachers that she knew, so I do not have super-high hopes that online school is going to go well. And that’s not even considering my 7 yr old, who is veeery distractable! Hoping we can check in once a day and then complete (some) of the work to our own schedule.

  4. Alice Says:

    I honestly think that the answer depends on a lot of variables. What’s your kid like? What are you like? What are the other people in your house like–your partner, any in-home relatives, etc.? Can all of you at least tolerate homeschooling with a reasonable amount of equanimity? Do you and the other people in the house have a good understanding of what’s reasonable to expect from a kid your child’s age? (I mention this because my kid is about to be pre-K, and lockdown revealed that my husband had unrealistically high expectations of her emotional maturity and ability to self-entertain. He and I had to have a number of conversations about it.) Beyond expectations: what are the work situations of you/the others in your house? Can the jobs accommodate diy homeschooling happening? Do you have the knowledge and ability to put together a decent diy homeschooling plan and then make it happen?

    Where we are ourselves… this is theoretical for me because my kid isn’t yet school-age. In an ideal world in which she was older, I would probably be fully virtual, but would not do diy homeschooling unless her school’s virtual option was problematic or her school was not offering virtual. Either way, I would supplement with the learning games and general life-learning we do anyway. I would want to keep her home if I could, though. Not so much because of chaos, but because I fear the virus and what could happen to us personally if we get it via community spread.

    I cannot express how thoroughly I wish that people were adhering to the recommendations right now. People are taking vacations, having parties, eating in restaurants, meeting up with friends. We could knock this thing down if people got serious about what “non-essential” means, and would stop being so self-indulgent. It doesn’t have to be this way, and yet here we are.

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      Great questions to ask oneself!

      I wish people were adhering to recommendations too. DC2’s friend’s 2nd family vacation this summer had to be cancelled because hir sister got covid.

    • CG Says:

      Yes, but…assessing risk per person and per activity is hard and even well-meaning people will come up with different answers. That’s why statewide or, even better, national leadership on this is so important. If it’s not safe to let people eat in restaurants (which I think it isn’t), then don’t allow indoor dining. Don’t rely on people deciding for themselves that this permitted activity is actually not safe so they’re not going to do it. I’m not yelling at you, I’m mad that the wrong people are having to make those decisions and the end result is…not great.

      • nicoleandmaggie Says:

        Yeah, plus the mandate provides people information about the danger. If it is truly dangerous, wouldn’t there be a law to protect people? If not then it can’t be that bad.

    • CG Says:

      Exactly!

    • K Says:

      So yeh, I will contribute something….i agree about the folks Who are not following the rules and are basically busting out as if covid is over. I say this as someone who lives in Massachusetts. As a state we went through some tough times with the virus, flattened things a bit and then, well, people are just showing their stupidity again and we are having noticeable increases. It is that easy! And for those of you not quite getting it in the current sorry, red state hot zones that are encouraged by some lower numbers and trends. You’re blindly Reading or willfully ignorant, dunno.
      But yeh, good solid control of this virus will take a longer collective Approach with most people following the rules. So, in-person schooling is tough to talk about but looking at this intelligently and scientifically….it just doesn’t make sense.
      Also many of the colleges in Massachusetts are finally getting a clue and realizing that it made no sense to bring thousands of kids back to campus, just to participate in online classes.

      • nicoleandmaggie Says:

        Uh… are you calling me blindly reading or willfully ignorant because I’m happy that we’re only sort of a red zone instead of insanely a red zone? (I have not left my house except to go to the dentist in well over a month, and have not left since March except for a mammogram, two protests, renewing my library card, and turning in voter registration forms from said protests. DH only goes out for curbside groceries and library books. And yet, I am encouraged that masking has dropped us to a fraction of the cases and deaths we were having before.)

      • K Says:

        No! Not you!

        I look to your blog for good, intelligent talk and comfort. :)

  5. sarah Says:

    My child’s school district is remote for the foreseeable future; given the demographics of the majority of students I would not be surprised if the district is remote all year.

    I would love to take my incoming fifth grader out of school for the year and simply let him work on projects that he is interested in (including Ancient Persia, the French language, and the Physics of his preferred sport), but his public school is a test-in, accelerated program and once you leave you cannot come back. I did speak to his new teacher and he informed me that my child already completed all of the upcoming math curriculum and most of the language arts curriculum during quarantine last year. The teacher said if we check in daily (the district is pushing daily participation) and do the bare minimum of work, he would be ok with my child working on independent projects. My child is a motivated and independent worker; he does not need a tutor or any real oversight, fortunately.

    We are dual citizens and working from home for the next year, therefore we may head back to my home country for the upcoming year. We may never have this opportunity again.

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      One of my colleagues is spending the year in his home country in Europe where Covid rates are much lower. I am jealous!

      It sounds like your teacher is great!

      Our school district is making us show up in person (via car) to get our schedules even if we chose the virtual option. Some grades have to bring proof of residence with them (!)

      And we won’t know what classes DC1 will be in (or who DC2’s teacher will be) until 2 days before school starts. I’d been thinking about seeing if we could work something out with the programming 2 teacher since programming 2 is unlikely to be offered virtually, but the timing makes it difficult. (I wish when the counselor had called DH about the history mix-up I wasn’t literally walking in from getting a root canal unable to talk.)

  6. omdg Says:

    “I give you permission (if you need it) to be selfish about your life and your career and being a good role model to your daughters and any future daughters-in-law if you decide not to put a huge amount of effort into home-schooling. I also give you permission (if you need it) to try out home schooling and see how much time it takes and if it takes too much time or causes too much distress at home to try something completely different.”

    THANK YOU. This comment is one great reason why I read your blog. Also, thank you for the YouTube science resources. We have a bunch of kid oriented science books (Let’s read and find out!) that are really easy to read, but that teach science at a level that is accessible to an 8 year old. We’ve been sitting and reading one of these together at bedtime, and then talking about the concepts, which is quite pleasant. Daughter is on “vacation” from Kahn Academy as a reward for finishing third grade math, but when that ends we will probably do some fourth grade math in there as well. I also got Howard Zinn’s, “A Young People’s History of the United States,” which… even I am learning something from that. I am grateful my daughter has the fundamentals down because if she didn’t already read well, this would be so much harder. I think we’re going to be ok, even if I prioritize getting my career off the ground also.

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      I remember Let’s Read and Find Out! We still have some back from the 80s (that haven’t really changed– the butterfly one and the skeleton one and the five senses one I accidentally re-bought on scholastic, though I haven’t seen the curly/straight hair one on scholastic, so maybe that science didn’t hold up). We have a bunch of other Scholastic science book stuff. I wonder if we’ll still be able to buy from Scholastic through the school once school starts…

    • Debbie M Says:

      I didn’t know there was a young people’s version of Zinn’s “People’s History…” Yowza, that book is depressing. I felt kind of punched in the stomach about my country. Kind of like watching the news now.

      • Omdg Says:

        Yeah my daughter was like, “Christopher Columbus was a bad man! I had no idea! My school lied to me!” We used that as an opportunity to talk about how most people are not all good or all bad, that this book was presenting an opposing viewpoint, and that a lot of people thought like him back in the 1400s, but times have changed somewhat. She says she thinks some parts are scary (they are), but my thought is that I’d rather have her know. Hopefully it won’t scar her for life.

        Bear in mind, I’m also the mom who talks about death with her kid using frank language, and if your children are very sensitive it might make sense to wait until they are older.

      • nicoleandmaggie Says:

        In fairness to your daughter, they KNEW Columbus was bad back in the day. Like, they knew his genocide and torture was wrong back then. He was Hitler levels of bad where it’s pretty obvious.

  7. SP Says:

    This is only hypothetical in our case. I would probably try to stay enrolled, but do the bare minimum of the official ciriculum and try to mostly do independent things. If the school was uncooperative with that plan (i.e. too much zoom time required for a 5 year old OR silly things like requiring online PE class), I would seriously consider homeschooling, since a 5 year old needs tons of hands-on supervision anyway. I’d also consider a pod to see if we could find something safe, otherwise I guess T and I would have to evaluate what we want to do about our jobs.

    The neighborhood parents are trying to organize, but their google doc spreadsheet is basically full of people saying “we both work full time so I can’t facilitate frequently”.

    For older children, I’d probably chose online-only and do the districts curriculum if it seemed reasonable, then supplement.

    All this said, we do have our kid back in daycare, but I don’t think public schools can implement such small groups without much more funding

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      Online PE could be fun… I envision dance videos. Ring Fit Adventure on the switch and having an exercise bike have helped a LOT with getting our kids to get some of that energy out.

      I am curious to find out what the district’s curriculum will be!

      • SP Says:

        That’s fair – it could be fun… but I still would hope it is optional so kids/parents could go on a bike ride or something instead!

  8. CG Says:

    One thing to consider about homeschooling is the effect on the school district. In our state funding is per-pupil, so if a lot of people pull their kids out of school the district will take a big hit, and they’re already projecting a deficit because of Covid-related spending. If I were on the fence about homeschooling, which I’m not, that’s a factor I’d consider.

    My data points: Our district is starting online. My oldest needs zero supervision from us. We have tentative plans to do some kind of small group thing with four other families that each have kids the ages of my younger two. I think the idea is that each family would supervise one day per week and they would meet outside as long as weather permitted. Everyone either has at least one professor parent or one stay-at-home parent so we have the capacity to devote a day a week if needed. But we haven’t ironed out the details yet. My middle kid got into the very good accelerated online math program for 5th graders so at least that will be high quality no matter what else happens. Good luck to us all!!!

  9. Debbie M Says:

    I love your answer!

    My sister found a tuition-paid online school for her sixth-grader and a curriculum for her 4-year-old. The curriculum is so exciting (it has baking!) that the 6th grader wants to learn some of it too. The 6th grader was sad to not be with her friends, but she found out that one of her friends is doing the same school she is (though a different grade). My sister is a stay-at-home mom, so she has more time than some. But she also has “balloon hand” (volunteers for a lot of things, including helping my mom move in and renovate her new (old) house).

    My favorite thing about home schooling is that you don’t have to keep your subjects all separated. I’ve enjoyed reading about one-room schools where they don’t even keep all the grades separated! (They would use geometry to help them build a shed for the school. They would visit a local rancher or farmer to learn from them. Then write a newspaper with articles telling about their adventures.) Of course that all takes time to plan out, even if the students help with the planning.

    Another thing I like is you can let your student go off on interesting, educational tangents if they want to, not just stop with that topic because it’s time to move on. You can move on AND learn more about the old topic.

    That said, I have zero experience with home schooling myself (except teaching my little brother to read right after I learned and teaching my sister an easy trig thing she never understood because they didn’t teach it to her very well). I also think raising kids is hard and scary and so I opted out. Thank you all for raising the next generation!

    On hating math, a sad truth is that many actual classroom elementary teachers hate, fear, and/or do not understand even basic math. Maybe they barely know one way to do something and cannot understand whether a student doing something differently is right, wrong, or almost right. I was working on getting certified to teach elementary school for a while, and one class was on teaching math. Half of the tests were on awesome things like creative ways to use manipulatives. The other half was on the actual math. The other students were somehow not making all 100s on those tests. And this was Brandeis, a good school, that looks at your SAT scores (that require math) before deciding who to admit.

    So I wondered why do people who don’t even like or understand some of the subjects go into teaching? Because they like kids. I guess if you want to work with kids, you have to go where they are, which is school. I also later learned that in another university where I worked, the college with the lowest SAT scores was the College of Education. Sickening. But I guess the low pay is why. Anyway, if you’re not teaching your kids learned helplessness on any subject, you’re doing better than some.

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      Yeah, one of my colleagues actually has done some work showing that teacher quality gets higher when the pay is higher. I mean, there was a point where I would have been making more as a math teacher in a midwestern suburb than as an econ professor in the south given the same years out of college. It was a little disheartening at the time.

  10. Turia Says:

    I wrote extensively on my blog about all the bad options we’re having to choose between (the post is here if anyone is interested: https://rescogitatae.wordpress.com/2020/08/05/no-good-options/). I’m in Ontario.

    We are probably safe to go back to in-person schooling (case numbers are 0.5/100,000 or lower these days), but I doubt it’s going to stay safe (we opened the bars and it will get cold so people will stop being outside), and we’re worried we’ll miss the critical point where we should pull them out. The remote learning they’re offering sounds like a full-time job for the parent to facilitate (if both the 4th grader and the junior kindergarten kid did it, that would be over 10 synchronous meetings per day). The 4th grader needs support and is not an independent worker (unless highly motivated). The four year old is chaos embodied.

    Our complicating factor is the older kid is in French Immersion, and if we formally home schooled (and said no to the many daily synchronous meetings option), he’d lose his place in the stream. I’m also worried that our (already underfunded) public education system will suffer if too many parents officially pull out, since the funding is based on enrollments.

    I *think* right now we are leaning towards sending them, and then pulling them out the minute the numbers start ticking upwards again. If they can make it to Thanksgiving (mid-October here), that might be long enough for Q. and I to get enough of our courses prepped that we could then survive. Maybe. (And then we’d probably do remote schooling for the 4th grader and practice dropping all of our inbuilt rule-following, people-pleasing habits so we could feel ok about doing a crappy job with it, and also just let the four year old run wild.)

    We can stall for another week at least, so I’m planning on watching to see what our case numbers do. But I’m losing sleep over it, for sure.

  11. Turia Says:

    Also, the Science Comics series is amazing (the 4th grader really loves them), if people haven’t encountered them yet

  12. Turia Says:

    I can’t seem to see my comment, so apologies if I post this twice.

    I wrote extensively on my blog about all the bad options we’re having to choose between. I’m in Ontario.

    We are probably safe to go back to in-person schooling (case numbers are 0.5/100,000 or lower these days), but I doubt it’s going to stay safe (we opened the bars and it will get cold so people will stop being outside), and we’re worried we’ll miss the critical point where we should pull them out. The remote learning they’re offering sounds like a full-time job for the parent to facilitate (if both the 4th grader and the junior kindergarten kid did it, that would be over 10 synchronous meetings per day). The 4th grader needs support and is not an independent worker (unless highly motivated). The four year old is chaos embodied.

    Our complicating factor is the older kid is in French Immersion, and if we formally home schooled (and said no to the many daily synchronous meetings option), he’d lose his place in the stream. I’m also worried that our (already underfunded) public education system will suffer if too many parents officially pull out, since the funding is based on enrollments.

    I *think* right now we are leaning towards sending them, and then pulling them out the minute the numbers start ticking upwards again. If they can make it to Thanksgiving (mid-October here), that might be long enough for Q. and I to get enough of our courses prepped that we could then survive. Maybe. (And then we’d probably do remote schooling for the 4th grader and practice dropping all of our inbuilt rule-following, people-pleasing habits so we could feel ok about doing a crappy job with it, and also just let the four year old run wild.)

    We can stall for another week at least, so I’m planning on watching to see what our case numbers do. But I’m losing sleep over it, for sure.

  13. nicoleandmaggie Says:

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    You can learn more about this issue and other steps you can take by visiting ipums.org/2020census. Thank you for acting now to give the Census Bureau adequate time to do their vital work of counting everyone.

  14. Lisa Says:

    Thank you for addressing my question and thanks to everyone for throwing in your thoughts!!! Somehow, just knowing that there are a lot of other people that share my concerns is a bit comforting. Our local school district has decided to start the year online, possibly transitioning to a hybrid model after the first term if things magically improve. It’s not clear exactly what the online plan will look like – reading their documents it seems like they will require the kids to be online for synchronous teaching as if they were in the classroom all day, which sounds like a nightmare to me.

    My kids are in 9th grade (freshman in HS here), 6th grade (last year of elementary) and K. I’m not worried about the 9th grader. They are very self-directed and will handle whatever the school throws at them. Even if they don’t like it, it will get done. The 6th grader worries me a lot. I haven’t been able to figure out what motivates them, and we butt heads all the time. It took a lot of fighting and tears to get them through the spring. The kindergartner is very active and imaginative and I just want them to like school, which I’m not sure will happen if they’re zooming all day.

    We’ve got a wonderful nanny we’ve had forever, but she has a couple of kids of her own and I don’t want to saddle her with ALL of the schooling responsibilities this year. We’ve been splitting time over the summer and will probably do that in the school year, DH or I could be home and help the kids with school in the mornings and she could come in the afternoons to wrap up homework, etc. The neighbor with kids almost the same ages as mine also has a baby with chronic heart and respiratory problems, and DH is a physician who is exposed to COVID every day, so I don’t want to pod up with that family! I have been pondering finding some kind of online community that will share activities that were hits with their kids and stuff like that so that we can pool collective wisdom without having to pool our germs.

    I think the anxiety is all me. I’m a planner and like to know what to expect, so I hate the uncertainty. I love Sarah’s teacher’s approach and if our teachers will let us check in regularly but do the assignments on our own, that would be ideal. I think I just need to trust our teachers, who have much more experience teaching kids than I do. My current plan is to give it a few weeks, and if it’s not working, I’ll pull them (at least the two younger ones) and homeschool, probably just following the school’s curriculum, since I’d plan to send them back next year. Luckily, homeschooling is easy in my state and the requirements are laughably minimal (so I wouldn’t have to do a lot of documentation). I’m not that worried about supplementing their curriculum because they’re smart kids and will learn everything they need to eventually. I appreciate your point about prioritizing my own career. I’m lucky to be in a really good spot right now, with tenure, significant funding and supportive higher-ups. I feel like I can step back a little and then catch up next year. But it might be wise to be a little more selfish about making time for myself.

  15. A Says:

    It’s fascinating and encouraging to read everyone’s plans. Our schools are all virtual through December, and I’m still allegedly teaching face to face twice a week. 6 year old is an avid learner and a zoom-refuser. Current plan is to leave him in school unless they get too pushy about participation. And basically not worry about it. While I’m teaching, he will go hang out at a friend’s house (My friend, not his), and her high schoolers who want to be teachers might oversee school work. Or might just do enrichment. Or run around in the yard with him. And that sounds actually doable, so something is bound to change in the next few weeks.

  16. First Gen American Says:

    All I know is I can’t continue to doing double duty at 100% for an entire school year. Something’s gotta give.


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