Homeschool day 5 and Covid Craziness

Covid-19 related news got a little weird today. Weird like “wtf?”, not like funny weird. Canada made it illegal not to isolate if you’re coming home from outside the country. It’s about time, really. I don’t know how people didn’t understand that isolating meant not going to get groceries before going home. But the weird part is people faking covid-19. I’ve seen an article about someone giving a fake doctors note saying they had covid-19 in order to get away with staying home from their job at McDonalds, forcing all the people who worked with them to isolate and the business to close and deep clean everything. I saw another article about a “prank” in which someone went into a grocery store and coughed and spit all over everything and loudly claimed they had covid-19, causing that business to close for cleaning and discard tens of thousands of dollars worth of product. If I remember correctly, that person got charged. But seriously… what is wrong with people?

Meanwhile, Trump is saying everything will be back to normal in the U.S. by Easter. That’s like 2 weeks away. And last I checked, they had the most covid-19 cases of anywhere in the world. If they keep putting the economy ahead of the people, there will be no economy because there will be no people. Oh, and they’re trying to put more troops on the border… like any Canadian wants to sneak into the States right now…

I do love all the memes, though…

Anyways… homeschooling… we made Fridays pretty laid back on purpose. We did our daily yoga and French and then had a discussion for Health about what might motivate someone to work out, or what might make them not want to work out. In preparation for this, I googled some stuff and jotted down like 5 things I wanted to make sure to mention. But mostly we put some ideas out there and let Steven carry most of the discussion. This might not work with some kids, but once you get Steven talking it’s hard to get him to stop!

Then we started our Art project, which is building the bird for the bird project we started in Language Arts on Monday.

We started with Crayola Model Magic (thank you, Staples, for offering free shipping during this time), using some copper wire for support. I had never used it before. It’s weirdly foamy and squishy, kind of like kinetic sand, and you can store it in an airtight container to keep playing with it, but it supposedly dries hard in 3 days. I’m interested to see how easy it is to paint and to glue things to.

Then Steven spent the rest of the day working on his Dungeons and Dragons campaign and finishing the writing part of the bird assignment. That reminds me, I should add “make a DnD character” to my weekend to do list, since we’re playing Monday! Steven’s one-shots are always fun.

Have a great weekend, and stay safe!
~Lauren

Homeschool day 2: Science

Steven informed us that they were just starting the body unit in Science. They had done the skeletal system, but not a lot else. Liam found a website called Kids Health that has lots of great information on all the systems (as well as on health, physical and mental).

So, Steven and I did our morning Yoga, including some meditation practice on Steven’s request (he could use a little help managing his emotions sometimes) and our 20 minutes of French. This time we started reading “Le Petit Chaperon Rouge” from this free book of fairy tales. It’s free until April 15, so get it while you can! The audio is great, well enunciated and slow for beginners, and the PDF file has both French and English text. We’ve been going paragraph by paragraph, listening and following along and then reading the English out loud, reading the French again out loud to practise pronunciation, and then I ask Steven a couple of words that he might have learned from the section we read.

Once that was done, Liam took over for teaching Science. They read the pages on Kids Health about the heart and circulatory system and lungs and respiratory system together, and then watched the associated videos (found on this page).

Title screen of one of the educational videos on Kids Health.

Then Steven spent some time re-reading the information on his own, taking notes and studying. In the afternoon, Liam tested his knowledge. He wasn’t perfect, but he got most of it right. I think the plan is to give him time to study again and then test again next week before moving on to other systems.

While they were doing that, I cleaned the kitchen, made bread and made some homemade potstickers… from scratch. They were really good, but I’m not sure they were good enough to warrant the 3 hours they took to make. I guess that’s another reason to get a pasta maker. I followed this recipe for the dough but made my own simple filling with ground beef, mushrooms, carrots and peas because as much as I love Asian food, it’s not always my family’s favourite.

My homemade potstickers.

Hope everyone else is having a good day! Stay safe,
~Lauren

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