Hello and Happy Thursday. How is your week going?! We are in that transition to back to school (yay!) which means earlier wake up calls, the hustle and bustle of making lunches and packing backpacks, and the rush of getting out the door. While that all can be exhausting, I’m here for it!
Today, I’m reflecting on the last 355 days at home for virtual learning as I know it’s a time the kids and I will always remember, and this post will be perfect to have those thoughts all in one place.
- March – May 2020: We all mastered Google Meet and Google Classroom. We lived in two weeks chunks of time while decisions were made at the state and district level about in person learning. Most days, the kids could sleep in before joining their class Google Meet at 10:00. They were on with their teachers for about an hour before completing their work for the day. Even a field trip and field day took place virtually. We missed out on fun events like the school carnival. I heard the sadness in their teachers’ voices as they said goodbye for the summer. None of us realized how long we’d be out of school.
- August 2020: Back to school was delayed a few weeks, and we started school on August 26 rather than August 12th. Leading up to the first day of school, we drove through the car line at school to pick up materials and meet the teachers from our car while wearing masks. We decided to send the kids to a pod (at my friend Amy’s with their school friends…mostly girls, much to Hayden’s chagrin!) two days a week. “Back to School Night” was held via Zoom.
- August 2020-March 2021: Synchronous and Asynchronous instruction were the new “buzz words” for the year. We mastered Zoom, Canvas, and Google Classroom. The kids’ school day was much more structured, and they spent most of the morning on Zoom. They had a 1.5 hour chunk of time for lunch and would often play with their friends in the neighborhood or at the school play ground. They would get back on Zoom in the afternoon for the last hour of the school day. Parent/teacher conferences we held via telephone. We lived in bigger chunks of time while waiting for decisions on return to in person learning. The number of school activities the kids missed out on is endless: field trips, lunch bunch, spaghetti/puzzle night, chorus concerts, academic team, clubs, the books fair, and more. January 2021: Their school schedule basically remained the same, but with an earlier start time and a bit more structure with the goal of prepping for a return to in person learning. Late February 2021: We learned that K-2 would begin on February 22 and 3rd-5th grades would start on March 3.
What we thought would be a few weeks in March and April of 2020 turned into months…and almost of a year of learning at home.
Real talk: I actually teared up typing this time line…I can’t believe we’ve made it through this time. There have certainly been ups, downs, learning curves, tears, frustration, and more.
Thankfully, they have amazing teachers who have hosted virtual lunch bunch, dropped off gifts on front porches, met with students individually who were struggling academically, made phone calls home with words of encouragement, waved as we drove through the car line, and so much more.
At the pod, the kids were able to read in groups, play games, bake, have holiday parties, learn about the election process, go roller skating, and experience many more fun activities.
Memories at home learning provided us…
and some things I will miss about at home learning...
- The kids showing me what they are working on and asking for help.
- Meals: enjoying leisurely breakfasts and lunches. (Bonus: Hadley now can make a quesadilla and soup on her own. Hayden has mastered heating Spaghetti O’s on the stove and can make a mean grilled cheese!)
- Hearing their awesome teachers and the sweet replies of their classmates.
- (also) Hearing Hayden and Hadley’s thoughtful responses when sharing answers with their classes.
- Friday Chick-fil-A lunch
- Time outside with them during “recess” and going for walks
- Flexibility and maximizing our time: I’ve been able to start dinner in the slow cooker at 10:00 am vs 7:00 am, they’ve completed chores on a break, and we’ve been able to schedule ortho appointments during lunch break.
- Extra Homer snuggles
- Impromptu play dates during recess or learning at home with friends
- Pajama pants as suitable school attire!
That being said, it’s time. It’s been 355 days since they’ve walked into their school building. They only have nine weeks left in the elementary school building they’ve attended since kindergarten.
Real talk (again!): I’ve also said that their age during this time has been a blessing. They are old enough to work pretty independently, but are young enough to still need me. I will treasure this experience forever, but I’m also happy to release them to the elementary educational professionals 😉
I asked them both what they will miss about at home learning and why they are excited to return to the building. Here are their responses:
I will miss being at home with Homer all day.
I’m excited to actually be in the school building to learn with my teachers and friends.
I will miss being able to stay in my pjs while learning at home.
I’m excited to see my friends and my teacher in person.
A few photos:
First day at the pod: August 26, 2020
Last day at the pod: March 2, 2021
First day of 5th grade: August 26, 2020
First day of in person learning, 5th grade: March 3, 2021
Back to School Breakfast (again!)
I decided to have another back to school breakfast, and was able to put this together pretty quickly thanks to a trip to The Dollar Tree (thanks, Amy, for the idea!) and a few items from my “Back to School Breakfast tub.
I love these little lunch trays from The Dollar Tree, and I assembled an easy breakfast of donuts, yogurts, Cuties, and juice boxes.
I got them each a little notebook and the “Star Student” tags were perfect for the lunch trays.
Other Back to School Breakfast posts:
When they enter the building, they go through a thermal scanner to have their temperatures taken, there are plastic dividers at their desks, they will eat lunch at their desks, they have to stay with their classes at recess, and some of the their specials teachers will come to them.
I received emails from both kids within the first couple hours of school 😂
Hayden was telling me he’d forgotten his watch, and could I bring it to school (the answer was no) 😂, and Hadley’s email brought tears to my eyes. She said she was so happy to be at school and that her teacher cried happy tears!
Their assistant principal sent me pictures of them at their desks. Hadley looks so happy, and I’m proud of Hayden for “going with the flow.” ( I know that’s not easy for him).
Hadley’s teacher shared this photo with me. So far, Hadley has been pretty consistent with her plans to be an elementary school teacher 😊
I know school will look so different compared to when they were last there on March 13, 2020, but I’m forever grateful for the school administrators, teachers and staff who have made this transition from at home learning to in person learning as smooth as possible. The school sign said, ‘Welcome back,” there were lawn letters greeting them with sweet “back to school” wishes, and so many wonderful teachers were outside waving and opening car doors at car line yesterday morning.
Everyone was smiling: students, teachers, and parents, and even a mask couldn’t hide the enthusiasm that returning to the school building after 355 days has brought to everyone.
My wish for the kids: “You’re off to great places! Today is your day! Your mountain is waiting, so get on your way!” ~ Dr. Seuss
(read: mom loves you, but bye!) 😉
The weight of the pandemic, as a mom and as a teacher, has been very difficult…probably more difficult than I have realized at times. Getting my kids back to school yesterday was a huge step towards normalcy, and I felt a weight lift off my shoulders. Next week, students start to return to my school building, and I’m so looking forward to that next step as well!
Thanks so much for reading today’s post. I hope you’re having a great week. I know mine sure has taken a turn for the better!