Fostering curiosity in kids (and their parents) since 2011

“This is not helpful information right now, Mommyo”

Purple flowers on a tree branch.

Spring still works. (Photo: Shala Howell)

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

We are on Day Five of The Howells All Being Home At Once, and things are going about as well as can be expected, to borrow one of my husband’s more useful phrases.

Education Update

My daughter’s teachers continue to post new assignments online. At the beginning of the year, my daughter’s school issued a set of textbooks to every student to keep at home. Assuming new assignments keep appearing (and we continue to be able to access them), we *might* be able to keep our pandemic education plan as simple as make sure that my daughter does the reading and completes her homework every day.

I recognize how fortunate I am to be able to say that. Still, I’d be amazed if it actually worked out that way. Teachers add a lot to the learning process, very little of which I know how to do.

So I’ve decided to create a new permanent page on this blog to track some of the educational resources I discover during this process, just in case you or I end up needing them.

I hope to release the first iteration of that list tomorrow, and will add new options as I find them. I would love it if you would let me know about any useful resources you find that aren’t yet on the list. Many will inevitably be online options, but I would also welcome print/offline curriculum suggestions, since not everyone has access to broadband.

That said, there’s a reason I had planned to send my daughter to school rather than attempting to take on her entire education on my own.

Yesterday’s lessons in homeschooling by the under-equipped

Yesterday I made my first attempt at home-schooling a seventh grader. Reviews were not great, but I learned a few things and hopefully today will be better.

Lesson #1: Working from home is hard for kids too.

I have worked at home for years, but my daughter is not very good at it yet. For the next few days at least, a huge part of my job will be to help my daughter develop the skills and focus to stay on task even when that task involves using a computer equipped with much more interesting things.

Girl in unicorn skirt and black t-shirt takes a very glittery set of hand-made decorations off her locker.
The Thirteen-Year-Old’s friends decorated her locker for her birthday. After they announced school was closing for a month, we made a special trip to pick them up. They’re hanging on her door at home now. We are looking forward to getting back to a world in which this sort of everyday social interaction happens. (Photo: Shala Howell)

Lesson #2: Before we do anything else, my daughter and I are going to have to figure out how to work together.

The first thing I do every day is identify the 3-6 most important things to do that day. Once I have my list, I get started, completing jobs in whatever order makes the most sense. I’ve done this for years, so when it came time to begin my daughter’s first at-home school day, I naturally assumed her school day would begin the same way.

I logged onto the website my daughter’s school uses to communicate those assignments (Schoology), and began reading all of them out loud to her. For the first assignment, this appeared to work great. It was, in fact, new-to-her work. Encouraged, I kept scrolling through Schoology, calling out new assignments as I found them.

As the list grew longer, my daughter’s responses became increasingly nonverbal. Concerned that this meant she couldn’t hear me, I increased the volume of my voice (I know). After about 10 minutes of this, she interrupted me and said: “Mommyo, that information isn’t very helpful right now. I’m still working on that first thing you told me about.”

Oops. I had forgotten that my daughter is used to working on one subject at a time. When it’s time for English, she goes to English class, does the reading, and if time permits in class, works the assignment. When the bell rings for Science, she goes to Science class, does the reading, works the assignment, and so on.

This concept of browsing all of her classes first thing in the morning to identify the entire day’s worth of work at once was completely foreign to her. All I did was create one stressed out middle schooler.

Today’s homeschooling adjustment based on student feedback

From now on, The Thirteen-Year-Old will log onto Schoology first, make a list of all of her assignments, show it to me for double-checking, and then spend the morning working on them, asking me for help as needed. At 11:30 or so, she’ll take a break eat lunch, go outside, check in with her friends, etc, while I verify what if anything, remains to be done. At 1 o’clock, the school day will resume and she’ll complete whatever’s left.

Also, I will try not to dwell on the fact that I lasted a whole 10 minutes as a teacher before my daughter shut it down yesterday.

Crafting Update (aka My Pandemic Project)

Shakespeare may have written King Lear during his plague, but it looks like I’ll have to be content just to catch up on some overdue blankets. The blanket I’ve been promising my sister for the past two years is finally well underway. I’ve completed about 30 inches of it so far, 10 of them since Friday (aka Day One of The Howells All Being Home At Once).

Meg’s blanket is very grey. (Photo: Shala Howell)

Today’s Dose of Twitter Humor

How about you? How are you holding up?

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3 Responses to ““This is not helpful information right now, Mommyo””

  1. Caterpickles Central Update | CATERPICKLES

    […] I’m even planning to finally send out all those holiday cards I’ve been sitting on, because I couldn’t bring myself to announce to the world that my mother-in-law died last year (as if not announcing it in a holiday letter would somehow make it less true). Still, USPS is projected to run out of money by June, and if I’m going to join the legions of Americans buying a ton of stamps to support it, I might as well use those stamps to mail some belated greeting cards. Maybe I’ll even go so far as to figure out how to use the USPS Click-n-Ship service to mail packages from my home, and send my sister that blanket I made for her before the shelter-in-place order is lifted. […]

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