Weighing Our Decision to Return to Brick and Mortar

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Before the pandemic, I could honestly describe myself as optimistic. I go out of my way to see the best in people (sometimes to my detriment), I look for the bright side of situations, and I seek out the ‘learning moment’ for situations I find challenging.

At least, that’s who I was.

The pandemic has robbed me of many things and many joys, including my optimism. In an effort to fight back, I started compiling a list of positives.

However, the biggest challenges I’m currently facing is eLearning.

Now let me preface this with a few disclaimers.

  • eLearning is rough. I am not a big crier, but this situation has brought me to tears!
  • My child has a truly incredible teacher. I trust and believe that she is doing everything in her power to make this a positive learning experience for her class.
  • In our house, the sucky days are outweighing the non-sucky days.

Our district offers the opportunity to switch to brick and mortar for the next quarter, and decision time is coming up.

And so, I am actively seeking the positives from this situation and weighing my options as it nears the time for us to make a decision.

The Positives of eLearning

#1 No Car Rider Line

Listen, the car rider line is a nightmare for parents, teachers, and many kids. My kid was picked on in kindergarten while waiting for me to pick her up, which created a whole dynamic of ‘you have to get me fast!’ from that experience. So I sit in the car line for an hour every day. It is the pits. I chat with friends, answer texts and emails, and I read. Also, sorry if I’m not answering your texts and emails because I don’t have a car rider line to do it in. With eLearning…no car rider line! So that’s a win!

#2 No ‘Get in the Car!’ Morning Drama

Our mornings don’t currently include arguing with my kid to get in the car so that we can make it to school on time. There is still ‘some’ morning drama because I have to nag her to eat her breakfast and then coax her into logging into her morning conference. I’m not, however, fielding as much hair and clothing drama as in past years. I’m counting this as a plus since our morning commute is no longer 15 minutes in the car, but instead is ‘get to the table,’ which is just in a different room in the house. And while some mornings it FEELS like it takes her 15 minutes to sit down and get on task, the reality is that it’s more like 6-7 minutes, which equates to a win in my book.

#3 Friend Drama is Low

Do you know how much drama 8-year-old girls can have? If you have or have had an 8-year-old girl, then you know. If you don’t or haven’t, let me clue you in. IT IS A WHOLE LOT OF DRAMA! Ugh! I am so missing the days of My Little Pony and Paw Patrol. With eLearning, social interaction at school is nonexistent. My girl socializes after school with her friends via Messenger and video chatting.

There is still some drama because that is the nature of kids. However, it’s significantly less. Last year, my daughter dealt with tremendous heartbreak when she learned that a friend she considered a good friend didn’t invite her to the birthday party. Now, if she doesn’t get an invite, she will never know! Ignorance IS bliss! No heartbreak over unrequited friendship this year!

#4 You TOTALLY Know What They Did Today

Our typical conversation after school any other year went like this:

Me: ‘What all happened in school today?’
My kid: ‘Nothing.’

Guess what! They can’t pull that with you while eLearning. Even if you are in and out and trying not to hover like I am, you still hear stuff about school, and you KNOW at least something happened at school.

Oh, how happy I have been when she says something like, ‘how do you spell…’ and I can reply, ‘I think I heard your teacher say that you should try and sound that out yourself…’ or ‘Mom, I don’t know how to do this,’ and I can say, ‘I think you should check your notes because I heard your teacher using that strategy earlier.’ Feels like winning to me!

Also, this means I hear new math techniques and strategies. I’m not just getting a worksheet or workbook page sent home and scratching my head or using ‘the google’ to try to figure out how to teach it to my kid. (I still have to use ‘the google,’ but at least I have some idea of what I’m looking for) And if she sits there swearing she has never seen it before in her life, as in years past, I can totally call shenanigans.

#5 She Gets a Chance to Answer

My girl gets intimidated when she is in a group, and a teacher asks a question. She watches other kids shoot their hands into the air and stops trying to figure out the answer or volunteer it. The unfortunate thing is that she typically knows the answer. She figures someone else will answer before her, so why bother?

In eLearning, at least in our class, the teacher is the only one who can see all of the students, so my girl has no idea if she’s the first or last to raise her hand. She is less intimidated, and I can see it building her confidence again.

#6 I SEE Her

For all of eLearning’s endless headaches, heartaches, and challenges, it has given me the greatest gift. I see my child’s strengths and weaknesses. I really SEE them. I am not guessing. Before this, I only saw her in school when I was volunteering or during special events. I only saw her doing schoolwork after school when she was frazzled from a whole day and burnt out on homework.

Now, I SEE how much she loves writing time and how excited she gets for science. I SEE how fidgety she gets before recess and lunch, and I can tell that she is not absorbing the lesson. I SEE how much she worries about her friends being able to participate (oh technology and your glitchy-ness) and her worry that they will get an answer wrong. I SEE her anxiety over taking tests. Past upsets my daughter would have are finally making sense to me.

This season of our lives has taught me so many things.

I see my own weaknesses and strengths vividly.

I see my child’s strengths and challenges differently.

We will come out of this changed.

The optimist in me is praying that we are changed for the better through this process. So change for the better is my last silver lining.

As you decide what works best for your family, I want you to know I respect you and your choices. I know it’s a hard decision and absolutely nothing about this season in our lives is easy.

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