I mentioned here, that we have been looking into using the virtual option offered by our local school district for the first time this year. We’ve been homeschooling since before the pandemic, but we’ve always tried to keep our options open to make sure that our kids are getting the best of what we can give them.
One of the many things that I find valuable about homeschooling is that, compared to when they were enrolled in school, our home and family feels much more central to their lives. Especially as they are young children (or have been for most of the time), six to eight hours (half of their waking hours) in another building, away from us and each other felt like … a lot. And we found other ways (sports and church mostly, they odd class here or there) to socialize with their peer group but to maintain their homes and us, their parents, as their main focus and anchors in life.
Obviously, the pandemic changed a lot of that, but as Eric has been work from home and therefore more able to be present to them as a dad primarily and as a teacher secondarily, it has more than made up for the lack of peer time. (And, of course, as I’ve mentioned, we are lucky that we have extended family nearby who have been part of our “pod”, or at least enough so that they could see fresh faces from time to time.
And there are times when being responsible for ALL of their learning has been … a lot. Because of this, we are trying to maintain an open mind, but, if I”m being completely honest today, our first day of any sort of interaction with their virtual option has been rough and exhausting. Primarily, this is because we seemed to have dropped completely off of the public school’s radar and we haven’t been receiving any information directly from them .. at all. Nothing. (Other than a couple of conversations with the tech help desk where we were able to confirm that we are, in fact, enrolled in the virtual option.) We heard about orientation today from friends (who ironically reached out to us last week to ask about the homeschool option should the virtual option not work out for them). But we haven’t been able to access any more information. We have left a few voicemails and emails and messages over the past few days, but the response has been crickets. I even tried tweeting at an administrator this evening.
Somehow I find all of this exhausting: the having to explain our situation over and over, the searching the websites over and over for information I might have missed. But mostly, I find being ignored to be the most exhausting part of it. I mean, are we absurd to expect a school district to communicate with us? Because that’s what it feels like.
And the other thing that is frustrating is that this virtual option appears (from their website) to have a color scheme and font, even a mascot. So this summer time and resources were put in to making a mascot and they can’t even give us, the parents of enrolled students the time of day.
I don’t know. It’s tiring. Fortunately, my husband picked up on how tired I was after all of this right before I was about to start cooking dinner and offered to pick up some take out instead. I gladly accepted.
And, of course, I just fear that this is going to continue on like this and that we will be spending hours and hours trying to sort all of this out and our kids being ignored, for what? Are they going to get a satisfying amount of peer socialization in this setting? (They’ve both taken on-line classes this year with different amounts of live interaction and it doesn’t seem to take a whole like for them to feel satisfied.)
One of the many things I do not want for my kids is for them to feel confined and hemmed in by education. I don’t want them to feel like they are just a cog in a wheel or that the focus of an education should be anything other than a one hundred percent commitment to learning. And all of this beauracracy feels like the ultimate hemming in.
We will solider on, at least for the next few days. But please, in your kindness and if it is your way, pray for us. In fact, pray for all the students and families returning to school this next week — virtually but especially so for those in person.