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Advice for parents as Washington schools resume online: Treasure the small moments

Reaghan Keeler, 9, takes an online reading class from her bedroom on her first day of distance learning amid the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19) on August 24, 2020 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

It’s the first day of school for Seattle children. Starting on the Friday before Labor Day weekend is just the tip the iceberg in what most families will describe as the strangest year of education they’ve ever experienced.

Majority of Washington students will be starting school year fully remote

I write this as I listen to show-and-tell in one room and a lesson on how to submit assignments in another. Show-and-tell is far more entertaining, and I feel lucky during these moments to be able to work from home and be witness to 22 7-year-olds describing their toys and talking about their upcoming holiday weekend.

Those small moments will be what the parents clutch to in what are to be frequent times of frustration. Just this morning we received a text from the school letting us know their learning program was not functioning and that IT was working on a solution. It almost felt like a snow day was about to happen, but IT pulled through and here we are on our daily Zoom call with our Friday agenda in hand.

I don’t pretend to know how this school year will go. I’ve taught my kids to roll with the punches, to pivot, and be quick on their feet to learn new ways of doing things. So far, they seem OK with their new setups. Attitude is everything. If I don’t make a big deal of it, neither will they.

Again, I’m lucky. I realize that. Not all parents have it this good. Some are at work with kids at home alone trying to do it all themselves. Others have children in day care or a child care center where the real heroes are trying to help these kids learn.

In Auburn, the district is offering night classes so that kids can log on at 4:30 p.m. and learn until 7:45 p.m., with a break for dinner. Imagine coming home from work and both kids are going to do school for the next three hours while you make dinner. It sounds exhausting.

Exhausting doesn’t begin to describe role of teachers in all of this. If you don’t have a teacher in your life, now’s the time to get one. Learn from them. They will tell you about the complications of running an hour-long Zoom call with 20 10-year-olds (mine is currently spinning around in his desk chair). It’s hard enough running a Zoom call with 12 adults, so I can’t imagine.

One teacher I know is organizing drop-offs and pickups for school work. “Just turn it in that way, and I’ll grade it all.” What does her at-home desk look like?

I saw a meme last night that read, “If you haven’t cried at work this week, are you even a teacher?” That may sound extreme, but I also don’t have the responsibility of engaging two dozen kids whose parents are relying on me to engage two dozen kids every day.

So we move forward, trying to think of the positives: First day of school pics, listening to show-and-tell, watching our kids become masters of technology, taking off early after school to go for a bike ride, sitting in “class” barefoot and wearing pajama pants, reading time on our beds, and the list will grow.

Good luck, families! May you get all the help and grace you deserve.

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