With social distancing decree, families begin work-from-home, homeschooling juggling act

| April 1, 2020 | 0 Comments

Child-rearing in the community

ABIGAIL KAMPF, a student at Girls Academic Leadership Academy, participates in an online class via Zoom with her teacher.

On March 13 (eerily, a Friday), parents in the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) received emails, texts, and robo-calls alerting them that school would be closed for two weeks beginning March 16, due to COVID-19.

In the days prior, countless private and local charter schools had closed their doors as well. Their heads of schools made the decision, as LAUSD did, in an effort to facilitate “social distancing” to prevent the spread of the virus through the school community (and, by extension, anyone related to members of the school community).

First, a co-op idea

What happened next, by my personal account and from others with whom I have spoken, was a flurry of text exchanges attempting to plan some sort of group learning situation. An initial concept was a co-op of sorts, to handle small groups of children at a time, engaging them in lessons and projects. It seemed somewhat manageable; it would be child rearing and schooling by community.

Then, as more and more parents became educated throughout the day on the tenets of social distancing, all such conversations came to a halt.

Social gatherings and play dates with other children (families) do not adhere to social distancing standards. And so, parents of young, school-aged children are on their own during this isolating time.

Anecdotally, schools are varied in what they prepared and on what they are suggesting for remote learning. Many supplied packets with worksheets to be completed and supplemental on-line learning tools. Some, as I write this on March 19, were still working out a plan.

An informal poll

ELLA WOLOVITCH, Larchmont Charter, does school work remotely in her family’s kitchen.

All of this confusion got us here at the Larchmont Chronicle wondering, how will families fill the educational and social needs of their children during this time? We polled a few local families, asking the following four questions: 1) What are the names, ages, and grades of your children? 2) How are you structuring your days? 3) What remote learning strategies are you employing, and what (if any) materials/resources did the school provide? 4) How are YOU coping (as parents)?
Here are some of the replies we received:

Nona Friedman, of Ridgewood-Wilton, wrote:

1) Ella Wolovitch, 4th grade and Kayla Wolovitch, 8th grade — both at Larchmont Charter.

2) We have a schedule hung on the wall with schoolwork that needs to be done during the day and before any looking at screens for entertainment.

KAYLA WOLOVITCH, Larchmont Charter, FaceTiming with classmates from her bedroom desk.

3) Ella’s school is in the process of setting up a remote learning platform. Work has initially started with the teacher sending weekly PDF files for Ella to complete. I’ve added a spelling test to her weekly assignments that they do in school. But I’m a terrible and unreasonable mother for doing that! Kayla’s school/campus is already on line. She’s been FaceTiming with friends during the day and doing all of the homework assigned daily. It’s kind of a lot so far. Hope it mellows out a bit.

4) I am coping okay. It’s only been a few days. Ella is already getting a little stir crazy. I keep trying to tell her it’s a marathon and not a sprint. Please try and pace yourself. We’ll see how long it goes. Hoping, praying they go back to school after spring break, but not so sure that will happen with what the Governor said yesterday [March 18]. We’ve also been having Internet speed issues with the entire neighborhood being on line, which doesn’t make things any easier.

Heather Kampf, who resides in Sycamore Square, wrote:

1) Sabrina, Third Street Elementary; Abigail, Girls Academic Leadership Academy (GALA).

2) We attempted an hourly schedule including academic time, creative time, free screen time, chore time, etc. But learned after two days that we really only need a to-do list with those activities, and it’s much more relaxed for everyone to be able to get the tasks done by the end of the day, rather than by a specific hour.

Also, both girls now have to navigate around scheduled virtual classes (Abbie for school and dance and Sabrina just for dance).

SABRINA KAMPF, a second grader at Third Street Elementary, takes an online (via Zoom) Sophie Dance class.

3) GALA teachers use Schoology to communicate ongoing assignments, and teachers are using Zoom to schedule virtual class time (Abbie had a two-hour Zoom class today, covering English and History). For Sabrina, we are working on the physical packets, but since what was sent home for two weeks already is complete in three days, we are also using Kahn Academy online, PBS, etc. We are also using FaceTime and Houseparty to keep the girls interacting with their friends.

4) [How are we coping?] I don’t know … I’m trying to remember to worry only about the things I can control and let go of what I can’t. I’m trying to focus on the fact that luckily my family is healthy and if we have to be stuck home, we have a pretty great home with plenty of indoor and outdoor space to move around in. I’m not too worried about Abbie falling behind academically, because GALA is pretty on top of it. But I do worry about the fact that she JUST got on pointe in ballet, and now doesn’t have real access to her teachers. It’s a precarious time in an extracurricular activity that she takes quite seriously, but maybe doesn’t have the know-how to conduct self-practice.

I don’t worry about Sabrina’s extracurricular activities, but I DO worry a little about her, academically. I don’t think her teacher provided enough material for two weeks, let alone the more likely longer duration of time that schools will be closed. I really feel the pressure of not letting this turn into a five-month-long summer vacation. I understand that in the scheme of things, it’s only 2nd grade … thankfully so.

The biggest problem is that my husband is self-employed and his whole ability to conduct business has been shut down — no one is taking acting classes or looking at scripts right now, and we were a day away from a signed project in Serbia. We also had other projects underway in Puerto Rico, when they shut down all non-essential business there.

Alexandra Liston, of Larchmont Village, wrote:

JACK LISTON, left, and brother Van are St. Brendan students studying from home.

1) Jack, 5th grade, and Van, 2nd grade (both at St. Brendan).

2) Trying to structure with most of the homework done in the morning since motivation devolves as day progresses.
Fifth grader is self-motivated, tech savvy and self-starting. He has a one-to-two hour class on Google classroom each day and assignments to complete in every subject. I don’t do much of anything — he does it all on his own. He also has hobbies like coin collecting and playing basketball, so he keeps busy the rest of the day.

Second grader is like I am homeschooling completely. Teacher is great and is posting assignments and links to workbooks on Google classroom (and is also available twice a week for online interactive Q&A), but I have to walk him through all of it. No electronics until it’s all done — that’s the only way I can get him to do it in big chunks instead of in fits and starts. But the material is easy so it’s totally manageable for me.

3) Remote learning: above.

4) [Coping?] I’m fine. Survival mode is actually one of my strong suits — but I feel like I am cooking constantly — especially because I also have my 90+year-old parents to take care of. Leaving house only as necessary — very little. We all play a lot of basketball in the backyard to break the day up. I’ve been spring-cleaning.

Write to us

By the time you receive this issue of the Chronicle, another two weeks of children-at-home will have passed. If you would like to send us your own answers to our informal poll about what you and your children are doing while staying “safer at home,” we would like to hear from you. Write to: caroline@larchmontchronicle.com.

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