I’ve grumbled about the challenges of Jack attending school 100% online before. However, due to both myself and Jack being considered high-risk for COVID, we are trying to be as careful as possible. Our school system has been alternating between 100% online and a hybrid model since the start of the year; however, students have the option to stick with the online format.
So yes, there are challenges. I’m working from home full-time right now, while also overseeing all Jack’s online classes. Luckily, as the months have gone by, he has gotten more and more independent. One thing that has been a HUGE help is my “genius” trick that I shared with you back in October of getting Jack his own cellphone. It’s not hooked up to any service, but it allows me to set his online school alarms.
Rather than me keeping track of when he needs to get back to his laptop after each break, the alarm will prompt him throughout the day to log into his different classes. This has been a lifesaver for me, since I may have Zoom meetings at the same time that he should be logging in. Instead of depending on me, once that alarm rings he knows he needs to log in on his own.
When it comes to classwork, each teacher assigns an online assignment to be completed after the live portion of class. I’ve found that it works best if Jack completes the assignments throughout the day, rather than waiting until the very end and doing them as ‘homework.’ Of course, some days it all goes to crap and he has a bunch of work to complete at once, but we are all just doing our best.
Over the years, Jack has fallen behind in the areas of ELA – reading and writing. He’s had reading intervention helpers work with him in the past and we read every night at home, but he still needed some extra help. I was very concerned with him falling behind this year since he has no extra reading help, so we decided it was time to hire a tutor.
A co-worker of mine actually recommended his mother for the tutoring, which was one of those right place-right time kinda of things. His mom is a private school teacher in a nearby county that specializes in ELA tutoring. Crazy, right?! We started Zoom tutoring sessions back in November and most weekends he has a one-hour session on both Saturday and Sunday morning. It’s hard for him to give up his free time, but we’ve implemented a sticker earning system which mostly keeps him motivated (he still has some days that he just isn’t into it at all, but for the most part he is engaged). And frankly, if that morning is not working, we will reduce the session time so we aren’t just torturing the poor kid.
His tutor is AMAZING. I am in constant awe of her knowledge of the areas where Jack has learning holes and how she is working with him to solve them. She has devised a number of games to keep him engaged and competitive and within the past month and a half his skills have grown in leaps and bounds.
Part of me wishes we had done this earlier; however, online schooling really has worked as an opportunity in this case. Rather than dropping Jack at before-care at 7:30 am, having a full day of school until 4ish and then hanging out in after-care until 6:00 pm when we could pick him up, he’s home. He gets ‘down time’ to watch TV, play videogames, or build something with his LEGOS throughout the day, so when class starts, he’s more refreshed and ready to learn.
Because we aren’t running around like crazy all week long, when the weekend comes fitting in a 1-hour tutoring session isn’t the end of the world. Instead, it’s just one more little thing to check off the list before he’s free to play.
And the best part, by looking at online learning as an opportunity to bring in some supplemental help, I finally feel like this isn’t the year that he’s going to fall behind due to online school. Instead, this may be the year that he’s finally going to catch up!