Thank God it's Friday.
The OPS iPads come with a built in hotspot. Ours didn't work this morning. We ended up using our own WiFi and were late getting out and had some connection issues throughout the day.
As the week has gone on, I've tried to create greater physical distance from Sebastian's school space and where I was and what I was doing. I didn't want to hover either to distract him or dominate him. I wanted him to have his own experience, and, gosh, I can't imagine teachers teaching with all those adults hovering around the edges. As an educator myself, I'd find that incredibly weird.
But I have been participating in songs and some activities. One of yesterday's songs was an earworm the rest of the day and night. :( There has particularly been nostalgia involved in saying the Pledge of Allegiance together in the mornings. And I really like the mindfulness meditation they do each day (today's involved tree pose), though, frankly, I'm doing it every day and he isn't.
Today, after hanging around for a bit (in the easy chair drinking coffee and reading the paper), I was doing a few chores (like hand washing and hang up masks to dry) before my plan to settle down and read in my bedroom. Yet, each time I checked on Sebastian, he was away from the computer. The last time, he was hanging upside down from a living room chair. He had already this morning said he didn't want to do school, that it was too boring, so quick rethinking was needed.
I decided that maybe I should try sitting right there beside him? I got my laptop out and some of my books and plopped down on my great-grandparent's table right next to him. He was really excited about it.
And, it worked. He stayed much more engaged the rest of the day. Of course, this was my day off from church, so I don't have that kind of freedom every day. We'll see what might work next week.
But, it did mean, I was attending and observing everything closely.
Early in the morning, one of the girls in his class just asked the teacher, "We did letters yesterday. Why are we doing them again today?" And I thought, "Oh honey, you're going to have a long thirteen years of school."
So, one of my concerns for weeks has been that I think the entire structure (including such things as quarters and semesters) needs to be thrown out and the whole enterprise reimagined with this different delivery method. That includes the normal structure for a school day and how many things are taught. Which is probably way too big a demand, but, it's where we find ourselves. My Associate Minister says about her church children's programming, "What works in person can't just be videoed or livestream." Agreed.
One thing the teachers are relying on is using videos. But it doesn't always work or work well to share a screen to a huge class of kids and play a video. For example, during an alphabet song this morning, when the sound was on letter M the image was still on J. At least for us. That just sows confusion. And later in the day the art teacher played a video about primary and secondary colors, which was completely unnecessary. Plus, the first time through, she forgot to share her screen and then played it a second time. We had already heard the audio and did get to see the images (again, with a delay). Why not just talk about primary and secondary colors and hold them up? Why use a crutch?
But this delay also works during the live instruction. Often the teacher's video would freeze while her audio didn't. One time this afternoon she was asking for kids to point out the difference between two pictures, and our screen didn't have any pictures on it, just the frozen face of the teacher.
Overall, it was a good day. There were more activities, more actual things to do rather than listen to, and he was more engaged. Though, he's not going to sit there and stare at a screen without having something in his hands to occupy him, and I really wish they would surrender that expectation. He even got called out a couple of times, and if that continues, this fierce advocate of his child will say something.
When it came time to color the sheet for the letter B, I had already spent time laying the groundwork for following the instructions. In the moment I decided got get out the sheet and another piece of paper and asked him to follow the instructions for the sheet but color the other paper with all the colors like he wants. That worked. Also having me right there to help with it as well. And as he finished a task and was waiting for the class to move on, I'd fill the space by us doing something else.
We also did some math (which he really liked ), some activities with play-dough (which were a lot of fun), and a fun game where she sent them searching in their house for objects of various colors.
Sadly, the great disappointment of the day was art class. That was the post-lunch specialty, and we were all excited for it. Of course there were initially some tech issues. Then, because this was the first time with this teacher, she wanted to go around and have everyone introduce themselves. I get it. But we've been doing that all week, it takes up too much time, involved too much technology troubleshooting, and bores the socks off of my kid. So I quickly grabbed our own paper and paints and we started painting while respectfully listening and watching. But thirty minutes into his first Kindergarten art class, they hadn't done any art. They'd spent most of that time on the intro, then the completely unnecessary video (twice), and now he was basically done with that segment, though it still had twenty more minutes to go. That time was spent trying to teach them how to open one of their apps for drawing. So the session was mostly about how to use your iPad and almost nothing about creativity (teaching kids how to open and use other apps while the tablet is necessary for the live instruction is puzzling and weird in its own right). He did enjoy the app once they were finally actually using it. But the whole thing seemed damned absurd and mostly a waste of time to me.
One of the final segments was the guidance counselor and she seemed fun, but as with many of these things, the time slot is too long for the attention span for remote learning. Not sure when that is going to be figured out, because we parents knew that in the spring. Halfway through what was otherwise a good and engaging lesson, he was standing up, looking out the window at a flock of birds in our front yard, so we walked away from the table and went to watch the birds and grabbed our Birds of Nebraska book to identify and learn about them.