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Reporter Dispatch: Working And Teaching From Home

Noah and Jacob Green collaborating on a nature project for distant learning.
Noah and Jacob Green collaborating on a nature project for distant learning.

Thousands of parents are now working from home and are also trying to teach their kids at the same time.  That has made for some sweet moments, frustration, and full-on meltdowns. Many parents are trying to figure it out how to balance it all—if that’s even possible. 

WLRN reporter Nadege Green is a single mom of two boys. She takes us into her home and with her 8-year old Noah and 6-year old Jacob. 

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Day 1 of teaching from home, I do what we normally do when there’s school: Get the kids up. They brush their teeth. Shower. Then, breakfast.

I attempted to stick to a schedule. By now if you’re a parent you’ve probably seen the nice color-coded schedules floating around Facebook and Instagram recreating  school from home.

8 a.m.: Prepare for the day. 8:30 a.m.: Light physical activity. 9 a.m.: Reading. 9:45: Writing. Then social studies, a dedicated hour for physical education and so on.

I really tried to be that parent. 

First, I had to get Noah, my 8-year old, set up with his different online learning programs. While trying to get Noah set up, my 6-year old Jacob is doing his reading.

A couple hours in and we’re already off that color-coded schedule and apparently their regular school schedule. Noah, of course notices. 

“I go to PE at 12 o' clock. I go to Language at 1:05,” he tells me.

“So my schedule is off?” I asked.

“Uh, let’s say, your schedule should be off limits,” he replies.

My 6-year-old is kind of OK with it though.

“Regular school is longer than homeschool,” he smiles. My version of school is definitely not as rigorous as what he gets from trained educational professionals at his school where he also learns Haitian-Creole.

I’m just trying to do the bare basics and I’m good with that. I’m NOT a teacher. I love my son’s teachers and I simply can’t replicate what they do or devote the time they normally get.  I also have to work. 

We take many breaks because siblings learning in the same room means many arguments. 

“He touched me!”

“He keeps looking at me!”

“He is annoying me!”

A few days into distant learning I stopped trying to adhere that color-coded schedule. We were not succeeding with that any way.

And I’ve been letting go of control — a little. Jacob, my youngest, is now doing some of his work before he brushes his teeth and showers because that’s how he wants to do it.

This was the scene from yesterday:

Me: Jacob just because there’s no school doesn’t mean you don’t have to brush your teeth. You still have to brush your teeth.

Jacob: But do I have to take a shower?

Me: Can you please get in that bathroom?

Jacob: I don’t want to take a shower. Pleeeeease.

So today, I let him work in his pajamas. Looking back, of the battles to wage and meltdowns to deal with, I am now OK if he doesn’t shower till noon. 

I’ve also let my 8-year-old Noah take the lead and develop some peer learning. Also code for "Mom is on a conference call."

Noah DJ’d and his brother sang along to what is easily the elementary school turn-up song of the year, “Old Town Road.”

That was music and dance class.

I’m lucky that my job is pretty flexible, but when there’s breaking news I have to drop what I’m doing to get the news out to you all. In those moments I do what all great parents do when we want our children to take us seriously and listen to us: I bribe them.

“You might earn a pack of Pokemon cards if y’all let me finish my work,” I plead with them. It worked.

I got the breaking news assignment done and the kids gave me the space to do it after receiving their Pokemon cards. 

The super organized color-coded schedules might work for some households. For other homes, you may go with a more laid back approach.

I’m team Do What Works For You And Your Family.

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