Life Update: Online School

Source: Markus Winkler on Unsplash.com

I haven’t given a Life Update since mid-July… but now that it’s September, it feels like the perfect time to do it again. The biggest change over here is… online school.

We had a form of online schooling in the Spring to finish out the year, but between March and June Jack had no in-person class time. All his schooling was asynchronous, meaning the teachers just uploaded a bunch of assignments that he had to complete and have me scan and upload. Much of the teaching of concepts fell on my shoulders, and I am NOT a teacher. It was super stressful and more than one day erupted into yelling or tears, or both.

This Fall, the school year is totally different with a mix of synchronous learning and asynchronous work. Here’s what Jack’s typical day looks like for 3rd grade:

9:30 – 11:30 amSTEM class, live instruction
11:30 amComplete STEM classwork
11:40ish – 1:00 pmLunch/Recess Break
1:00 – 1:25 pmSpecials, live instruction (PE, Media, Music, Art or Health)
1:30 – 3:30 pmELA class, live instruction
3:30 pmComplete ELA classwork

We’ve been following this schedule for almost 2 weeks now and it is actually working so much better for us. Jack knows when he has to be in front of the computer for class and I know when I have long periods of time where I can schedule my own phone or Zoom calls. Often the live instruction ends a bit early so that the teacher can split the class into small groups, which gives Jack time to complete his classwork before his next class (yay for no additional homework!).

Jack’s *mostly* independent when it comes to online learning, however he still needs my help with a few things at the start and end of each synchronous session. I’m hoping with more practice he can do more on his own. I also watch him submit his classwork once it is completed, to make sure that it is properly turned in (and that he will receive credit for it).

Both Jack and I tend to be ‘schedule’ people, so now that we’ve gotten into the routine of what a school day looks like, it’s SO MUCH easier on both of us. Typically, we wake up around 7:00 am, get dressed, eat breakfast, go for a 30-minute walk outside together and then he gets around an hour to hang out while I take a shower and start my own workday. Getting outside each day and taking a walk makes me feel a billion times better. At the end of each day, once he submits his last assignment and shuts the laptop… we have a “WE DID IT” dance party.

Oh, and I’m totally bribing my kid too. We knew that the first two weeks of online schooling would be the worst while we get used to a new schedule, so Travis and I decided that if Jack did the best he could and tried to be as independent as possible… we’d reward him with a new video game (Mario Odyssey to be specific). No shame in my mommy game and it’s totally worth it, mostly so he doesn’t complain the entire time we do our morning walk.

This new schedule is totally dependent on me working from home though. While I’ve been thankful that my office has had me teleworking since March, they have been talking about bringing us back into the office. Possibly in early October. Jack’s school has also been talking about switching to a hybrid format… in mid-October. So, while we are doing well with our current routine right now, it might all be blown back apart in a few weeks…

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Face Masks: Which Ones Are Your Favorites?

Over the last 6 months, I have collected a cornucopia of face masks. I made a few, I bought a few. I have some for me, some for Travis, some for Jack. Honestly, it’s almost surprising that I don’t have any for Ollie yet…

I thought I’d give you my feedback on the various face masks we are using and I’d LOVE to hear which face masks are your current favorites!

Face masks for me: Athleta and Etsy

Athleta Made to Move, 3 for $25

Source: Athleta.com

The Athleta Made to Move masks were on backorder for a while, but they finally were shipped to me in early August. I like that they are lightweight with an adjustable head strap/ear strap. They also poke out from your mouth, so they don’t get sucked in when you are breathing. These aren’t fully perfect for me though, because I have found that they tend to catch on your chin when you are talking and move around. I’ve found that these are best when I am running errands and not really talking to people much.

InsideOutEveryDay on Etsy, 4 pack cotton face masks, 4 for $20

Source: InsideOutEveryDay on Etsy

These are my favorite face masks and I have been wearing them most often. They are a nice, soft cotton and the size and ear loops fit my face very well. I can talk in them without having them move around a bunch. I can also throw them in the washer and let them dry flat and they are holding up very well. The only drawback for me is after wearing them for awhile, they get kind of damp from spit. Which is gross.

Redpajamas on Etsy, 1 for $10

Source: Redpajamas on Etsy

These have the longer ties, so that you can tie them around your head. However, I find that unless I’m wearing a ponytail they just slip down my head. Instead, I tie them so that I can loop them over my ears. I like this design and they are pretty comfortable and the design is super cool too. I can talk in them and they wash up really well. They are a little thick though, so I don’t like wearing them from a long period of time.

What doesn’t work for me: The Target face masks are huge on my face and I can’t wear them at all.

Facemasks for Travis: Target and disposable

Target Universal Thread masks, 2 for $5.00

I didn’t include a link to these, because I don’t see the exact kind we bought on the Target website. There was a big display of adult and kid’s masks and I grabbed a couple packs of the ‘adult’ size. The Universal Thread version fits Travis well and they are his preferred mask.

Disposable Face Masks from Amazon, 10 for $4.50

Source: Amazon.com

I have purchased this pack from Amazon, as well as a pack of 50 from Home Depot (which are identical). The disposable face masks are great to have on hand, because they can fit everyone in the family if needed. I typically keep a few of these in a plastic baggie in my purse, just in case.

Facemasks for Jack: Target kids and disposable

Target Cat & Jack masks, 2 for $4.00

Source: Target.com

I bought this exact pack in the green and camouflage option for Jack at Target and they fit his face really well. They also wash up well with throwing them in the washer and letting they lay flat to dry. The camo one is Jack’s absolute favorite – he says he looks like a ninja.

Disposable Face Masks from Amazon, 10 for $4.50

We also use the disposable masks for Jack and he wore one each day when he went to summer camp (so I didn’t have to worry about him losing a fabric mask). Since they are adult sized, I just make a little knot on each ear loop and that allows them to fit to his face perfectly!

What doesn’t work for Jack: The Old Navy kid’s face masks are a bit too small and also very thick and heavy. Jack hated them and said he can’t breathe while wearing them.

How about you? Drop a link to your favorite masks and tell me why you love them!

Disclaimer: This post contains Shopstyle links and an Amazon affiliate link. This means that clicking on a link may help me earn a small commission at no cost to you.

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Jack’s First Day of 3rd Grade

The first day of third grade is here! This year’s start of school looks quite a bit different than previous years. Our county is starting back with a fully online program for now and will determine in October whether to switch to a hybrid option.

There was no ‘back to school’ shopping for particular notebooks or color-coded folders. I didn’t buy Jack any new clothes. There was no need to buy a new lunchbox or water bottle. Instead, we got the spare laptop updated and loaded it up with his Google Classroom.

In the spring, I had Jack work in my home office with me each school day. While it was easier to keep an eye on him and help him with his assignments, the fall will have actual classes happening in real-time over video. So, we set him up with his own desk in his bedroom. He’s right across the hall – so I can still hear what’s going on – but he has his own space with a laptop, whiteboard, and notebooks.

For now, I’m still working from home but may need to return to the office at least a couple days a week starting in October. I’m hoping that I can get Jack into a good ‘online school’ rhythm, so if I have to drop him at my parent’s house on days I need to drive to Baltimore, it’s like a well-oiled machine (all my fingers and toes are crossed on that one).

On Friday, we had three separate Open House meetings in Google where we had the opportunity to meet his different teachers for the year. It was an absolute mess. The teacher’s slides stopped working, every kid was given time to share a few words – which was all kinds of ridiculous, and everyone had trouble accessing the proper Google MeetUp rooms.

So yeah. First day of school is today. Good luck everyone!

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