Making the decision to Self-isolate and to Homeschool

I don’t know if anyone is going to read this. It might just be a journal and reference for me, and that’s ok. But if you are here, thanks for reading! Say hi, share information, ask questions! I’m just figuring this out too, but we can figure it out together.

Our little family, day 1 of self-imposed isolation, March 22, 2020.

We decided to start homeschooling on our first day of self-isolation. Isolation was something we had discussed repeatedly but were on the fence about for a while.

Our son Steven had been off school since March 14 because of March Break. And this had been extended, but they hadn’t yet announced that they wouldn’t be going back to school at all. My husband Liam would be a high-risk case if he got Covid-19. He has an artificial heart valve, which causes him to be on blood thinners, which cause him to have high blood pressure, and he also has had a stroke and already has lung damage. So we had already been glued to the TV and Google every day, watching this thing progress. I was glad that Steven and Liam were home, but I was still going to work, relying on the bus to get there, and people just were not social distancing, which made me increasingly worried about possibly bringing Covid-19 home to them. But until recently there were no local cases, so we thought it was relatively safe.

On March 19th, I was on the bus on my way to work after having just heard about the first Covid-19 related death in Ontario, which happened to also be in the city we live in, and the mounting numbers of cases. My brain is very good at imagining just how bad everything could get, and sitting on the bus trying to avoid touching anyone or anything I had nothing to do but think. Think about all the people who probably touched all the surfaces around me, about all the people I had talked to at work – both coworkers and customers – who were not taking this seriously and therefore endangering my family, about just how bad it could get if my husband got it… I got off the bus a stop early and walked the rest of the way to work. I had caused myself to have the biggest panic attack I’d had in a while. I was shaking, I felt like I was going to cry, my chest was heavy (which is a great thought to have when you’re freaking out about Covid-19). I avoided eye contact and stopped at every hand sanitizer station as I navigated my way around the call centre I work at. Open the door, hand sanitizer, open the next door, hand sanitizer, find the path with the least people to get to the lunchroom, hand sanitizer, put stuff in my locker, hand sanitizer, leave the lunchroom, hand sanitizer…

I finally got to my desk. I grabbed a bunch of disinfectant wipes and wiped everything down, even though I knew no one else had been sitting there – we had switched to assigned seating because of the virus. I did breathing exercises as I scrolled through my e-mail and read the day’s updates. I took my first call a couple of minutes early, as soon as I felt I could talk without crying, knowing that focusing on someone else’s problems would help.

In between calls and on my breaks, I started writing an e-mail to my manager explaining my family’s situation and how I didn’t believe it was safe for me to work anymore. I put my vacation days towards a week off and hoped we’d get enough from taxes to cover another week or two.

But eventually, I will have to go back. Which scares me. But with all non-essentials being closed now, hopefully, there will be fewer people on the bus. And hopefully, everyone who can work from home at the call centre will be working from home by then, and those that are left at work will be more conscious about distancing. Hopefully.

Anyways. We finally decided to self-isolate. I figured it out with work. We went to H&R block and got our tax return on March 21st, went to the bank for laundry money, picked up our prescriptions and then went home to instacart (that’s a referral link if you want it 😉 ) our groceries in. Then we unpacked everything, disinfected what we could, washed our hands so many times they hurt and tried to relax, but I think we had already gotten our anxiety up for the day.

The next day, we finally relaxed somewhat. We had a lazy morning, hung out together, watched a movie. But at some point, we started talking about school. Were the schools going to open again? Would it be safe to go back if they did? We decided that either way, he would not go back… but then what? Should he finish the year at home? What would homeschooling look like to us? Where would we start?

I had found a link to a list of Ontario Curriculum Checklists for grades 1-8 a few days earlier. Someone had shared it on Facebook, and I shared it as well, thinking it might help me or someone else in the future, but not really knowing what we were doing yet at the time. I printed off the 5th-grade list, and we all sat down and went over it, item by item. We asked Steven if they had covered each thing in school, and if he said “yes” we asked him a few questions to make sure he actually had the knowledge. Then we discussed how we would fit schooling into the day. Steven immediately said he wanted a schedule, similar to school. So that was settled pretty quickly. But we needed to figure out what that schedule looked like. We decided PhysEd and French should be practised every day, which left 6 other subjects to be covered. We put the bigger subjects Monday to Thursday and then decided we could do both Health and Art on Fridays, and possibly have time left for Steven to finish anything else he hadn’t finished earlier in the week.

The homeschool schedule we came up with. Seems to be working so far.

Honestly, we’re only a few days in, but having a schedule has helped in so many ways. It keeps our school work on track, but it also has prevented the usual arguments that arise daily from repeatedly asking Steven to do his chores. He looks at the schedule in the morning, he knows what he needs to do, and after dinner when one of us thinks to ask if he did his chores the answer is “yes… oh” as he gets up because he did his chores but still needs to wash his dinner dishes.

Then Liam and I discussed how we were going to split the workload. There were obvious topics that we each excelled at, and we each already had ideas of how to go about certain things on the curriculum. We’re not strictly splitting the classes, we’ll trade-off for some parts of each subject. When I go back to work, if I’m still on the same schedule I have been on, this schedule will still likely work. On days that I teach, I’ll be able to set up a project in the morning and plan for him to work on it solo in the afternoon with Liam there to help if needed.

Stay safe out there!
~Lauren

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