March 15, 2020 9:05 pm
“But mommy, if you go to work you’ll get sick.”
When L, my four-almost-five-year-old, said this to me on Friday morning, I knew it was the last day I’d be going in to the office no matter what the mayor and governor decided. My baby was scared; he needed his mom. But even without the fear, he was right – none of us should have gone to work or school on Friday, especially those of us who rode the subway.
“It’s okay, there aren’t large groups of people at my work and so it’s different from Daddy’s work,” I said.
I continued to explain things from the public-health approach: “In order to make sure everyone stays healthy, we have to stop gathering big groups of people together for awhile. We’re washing our hands a lot, too, right? Everyone is doing the same thing. We’re all working together to keep everyone healthy.” He had a million questions. We muddled through.
And now it’s official: NYC schools are closed. In as cheery a voice as possible, I said to L, “Guess what? Remember how Daddy’s work was closed and you said that your school and my work should close, too? Well, you were right. Everything is closing to make sure that we can all do our best to stay home and keep each other healthy.”
He thought this meant one endless weekend. Dave and I had to backpedal a bit and go over the homeschool idea, how we’re going to follow a schedule, how Mommy and Daddy are also going to be his teacher now, too.
“What do you think about that?” I asked.
“Fun!” L replied. Then he launched into a whole imaginative game in which he was the teacher, ordering us around.
“Hon, it’s okay to play this game right now, but starting tomorrow, we’re your teachers for real. Got it?”
“Got it, Mommy. We’re the fun makers, ya?”
Oh. My. God. Dave and I are supposed to homeschool our big kid while our nine-month-old baby crawls around – our off-the-chains, bonkers baby who unplugs appliances and tries to lick the prongs of the connector, who gleefully eats tape and dog fur, who climbs on top of tables and bounces, somehow in a matter of seconds. Practically speaking, the only surface in the entire apartment tall enough to do school work out of the baby’s reach is the dining table. Where we eat. Plus, I’m supposed to also work 35 hours a week from inside the same Brooklyn apartment. This place is gonna be trashed.
I guess the silver lining to Dave’s sudden availability is that he can now take over with the kids. There are already tons of resources out there. Plenty of people have homeschooled before us. But those people chose to do this; here in Covid City, we do what we have to do.
Sometimes this whole thing feels like a wild experiment a group of aliens is performing on us, like how the earth was created in The Hitchiker’s Guide to the Galaxy because the intergalactic space team needed a new computer. But this is not a sci-fi novel. This is reality, and it’s only going to get more intense. Good thing we’ve been stockpiling snacks and liquor!
Y’all, this school-closure thing is likely to last the remainder of the semester. We have to stay connected, to share schedules, plans, ideas, resources, tips for staying sane. I’m going to start an email list for parents; leave a comment if you want to be added.
And if you need a place to start, I pasted my homeschool schedule-in-progress below, as well as a list of ideas that a few parent friends have contributed to; I tried to model our plans after L’s Pre-K class to provide some consistency (hence things like “Center Time”). Best of luck to those of you with older kids!
And, as always, don’t forget to BREATHE. We’re okay. Even when locked up in our apartments away from each other, we still have each other. We will get through this together.
Very (Probably Overly) Ambitious Homeschool Schedule Draft
Note: This plan is created with my family’s personalities in mind; every family has its own unique needs.
9:00 Family Circle Time: Good morning / Day & Date / Feelings Check-in / Song and dance
9:15 Independent worksheets (math or penmanship) – M goes down for 1st nap
9:30 Center time: Art, Kitchen, Music, Computer, and/or Science
10:00 Clean Up
10:10 Nature walk with Basil (our dog)
11:00 Project time
11:15 Dance break
11:20 Center time: Art, Kitchen, Music, Computer, and/or Science
11:45 Reading (L reads aloud then an adult reads aloud)
12:00 Cooking/Lunch prep (L free play if easier)
12:45 Quiet/alone time
1:30 Family exercises – Go Noodle
2:00 Nature walk with Basil
2:30 Project time
3:00 Center time: Art, Music, Computer, and/or Science
3:30 Facetime or call friend/fam
3:45 Homeschool ends, from here it’s free
For those of you looking for a less structured or busy schedule, here’s another template*:
Project-Time and Center-Time Ideas
– drawing pics for friends/family and emailing them
– boiling and dyeing eggs
– finger-painting in the tub
– cooking projects
– exploring our musical instruments
– online karaoke/learning a song
– baking bread or cookies
– planting seeds (a project to monitor)
– baking-soda volcano
– making a paper kite
– making play dough
– coloring on coffee filters with markers then dipping them in water and watching it run
– rain cloud in a jar (shaving cream, water, food coloring)
– walking water rainbow (water, food coloring, paper towels, jars)
– making and decorating a gingerbread house
– Google-ing items we discover on nature walks
– giving presentations or making books about our discoveries
– creating a nature box
– bird watching (praise be we have a balcony!)
– reading through field guides and nature books
– choosing an animal a week to focus on (research, art projects, pretend play, etc)
– lots and lots of dance parties
– making bubbles
– PBS Kids
– Learning Lift Off: 20 Best Homeschooling Websites & Resources
*This post was updated on 3/16/20 to include the second template.