Back-to-School in the Age of Covid

While I hadn’t intended to make a series of Covid-related posts, this is indeed related.

It’s time for us to be thinking about the whole back-to-school thing. What’s the plan this year?

Everyone will surely be making decisions they feel are best for their families. In my household, that will mean getting back into homeschooling. Not that I don’t feel our school district has our kids’ best interests at heart. It’s more the nature of the virus (how it spreads, its danger level, the potential added risk of my son’s heart condition, etc), my worry that precaution measures won’t do enough to prevent the spread in such closed-in environments, and the fact that our gov’t is fixing to force schools to re-open, ready or not, under the threat of losing their funding entirely.

Maybe it’s just me, but that feels a bit like extortion…

Add to that the fact that the woman in charge of our Dept. of Education has been itching to de-fund/dismantle our public school system since before she took on that role. It’s the reason she was put into that role, if you want my personal opinion.

Furthermore, it feels like they’re using a forced back to school mandate as free childcare so homebound parents with younger kids can more easily be forced to “get back to work”. Unfortunately, many don’t have jobs to go back to (businesses got their PPP money and still laid-off/fired workers). Others simply aren’t wiling to put their families at risk and are awaiting a viable vaccine to get back into the job market (with the hopes they can find one then). The whole thing’s a hot mess.

But I digress…

books on desk with apple, ABC blocks and colored pencils
Photo by Element5 Digital on Unsplash

Way back in 2016, I homeschooled my youngest through the end of 1st grade and the beginning of 2nd. It was an experience, lemme tell you! He was much more hyper back then.  It was the reason he was kicked off the bus that year, necessitating homeschool, but it was as fun as it was aggravating. We discovered he’s at least partially a kinesthetic learner…he’d do his spelling tests verbally, as he spun in circles on the living room floor.  Liberty’s Kids and Horrible Histories were on our Social Studies/History curriculum, which was fun.  Homeschooling also forced me to become more organized (to manage meal plans, create lesson plans, and keep up with my freelance work).  In short, we made it work.

This time around, it’ll be both boys and we’re yeeting the lesson plans right out the window (did you see them? they just caught serious air!).

They will, instead, be…un-schooled.

If you’re not familiar with unschooling, it basically means the kids guide their own education, rather than having a structured plan forced on them. I think we’re finally done with compulsory education. It counters my kids’ learning styles and takes the fun out of the discovery/learning process. Plus…I trust them to decide for themselves. They’ve proven to me many times that, given the opportunity, they learn quite well on their own and enjoy the process much more.

Looking back on my adolescence, I would say I was unofficially un-schooled. Dad worked, a single parent, and couldn’t always keep track of where I was during the day. So, I skipped school all the time and went to the library. Yes, the library (it surprised my caseworker too, LOL).

I also hung out with friends when they skipped too, but I’m a huge bookworm, so the library was like a second home. My school was one where the administrators would openly admit to students: “we don’t care if you learn anything or not, you just have to show up every day”. Real incentive to learn, that (it was truly a horrendous school and still is).

Even after being sent off for it a few times, and Dad walking me to the principal’s office each day before he went to work, I kept skipping. Until my probation officer decided I wasn’t enough of a problem child to keep sending off. Our governor at the time started a teen GED program and I qualified, so I got my GED sophmore year and started my first round of college that fall.

But, again, I digress…

Love To Learn sign on concrete wall
Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash

Un-schooling is something I considered the first time around, but was worried it would leave me without a way to assess them for approval the next year. I’m no longer worried about that. There are un-school friendly assessors now, and things like journals, photos, projects, etc. count. Also, there are now groups that parents/kids can join. If they aren’t specifically for un-schoolers, many are un-schooler friendly. That’s refreshing!

When I started this website, it was my intent to include homeschool information for the parents doing it (even though I wasn’t anymore). I never got around to compiling my info and resources. Seeing as I’m about to be ass-deep in it again, I’ll just about have to, right? Not to mention, the info and resources will be updated, so more’s the benefit.

If you’re concerned about physically sending your kids back to school this fall, with everything going on, definitely look into your options. There are online public schools available, if you and your child/ren prefer a structured environment or curricula. Many do! And, of course, there’s the homeschool/un-school options as well. If choosing one of these, be sure to find out your state’s requirements, deadlines, forms, etc. so you can get set up and started off on the right foot!

Whatever you decide for your family, trust yourself to choose wisely. These are dicey times and we’re all just navigating the best we can. Stay safe & healthy…be well!

*Cover Photo by Feliphe Schiarolli on Unsplash

Chips Off The Ol’ Block!

Ever look at your kids and wonder…where do they get THAT from?  LOL, me too!  But it’s even more interesting when you see what they took from you and adapted for themselves.

Lately I noticed both my Spartan and my Athenian have been jamming on Kill Count.  If you’re not familiar, it’s a YouTube channel that takes a death count of various movies and runs a little fun commentary to go with.  Not quite Elvira, but entertaining enough if you’re into that kind of thing.

Well, my Athenian asks me the other day “Mom, you ever heard of an 80s horror film called ‘Chopping Mall’?”  “Of course I have! It was one of my video store picks as a kid…so cheesy!  It’s up there was ‘Blood Diner’ and ‘Sleepaway Camp’, but they aren’t as good as ‘Blood Salvage’, which I still have on VHS by the way……”.   As I droned on in nostalgia, I saw he was watching it on Kill Count.

My kids are well aware of my love for cheesy B-rated horror.  They share my love (obsession) for the amazing Evil Dead series and the equally amazing Bruce Campbell.  They were as into the “Ash vs. Evil Dead” series as I was and enjoy watching Mr. Campbell host the new “Ripley’s Believe It Or Not”, but they don’t share my long-standing crush on him.  What can I say?  30+ years later, he’s still a handsome guy with an interesting personality!  See for yourselves.

Related image          

But I digress.

Every so often, the boys hit me with a throwback like that.  My Spartan, for example, has developed a love for 80s music.  He’s obsessed with such gems as “Puttin’ on the Ritz”, “Video Killed the Radio Star” (pop trivia – this was the very first song played on MTV in Nov. 1981!), “I Wear My Sunglasses at Night” and the kickass Twisted Sister hit “We’re Not Gonna Take It”.  For that matter, my oldest had discovered 90s music and 40s-50s music on his own…he’s down with Green Day as much as Dean Martin.  Like ol’ Mom, they don’t stick to just one genre and they tend toward songs with intelligent lyrics…happy to see that good taste in music runs in the family!

These are those parenting moments where you see the intersection between what your kids gravitate to as individuals and the influences they’re exposed to along the way (can I get a witness on some Dr. Demento up in here?!).  Between nerding out on horror and indie-style/off-color entertainment in general, these guys are definitely chips off the ol’ block!

What are some of the intersections you see with your own kids (or, if you don’t have kids, those you’re related to/watched grow up)?

Back to the Back to School Grind

High school ain’t what it used to be, lemme tell you…

Getting the boys ready to go back to school sort of ran up and hit me in the face this year.  I knew it was approaching but didn’t expect that mack-truck-at-100-mph, out of nowhere feeling.

BTW, if you’re in Ohio, the Tax-Free weekend is THIS weekend!!  Friday thru Sunday.  I think the last few years they’ve done it, it was the 2nd weekend…but I could be wrong.  Either way, it leaves little time to shop, if you’re not prepared.

I managed to throw together a list (rather added to the school’s 4th grade list to include my oldest) and do some pre-shopping online last night.  Today, I went and got some of what they needed (shirts and supplies).  They still need jeans, shoes, haircuts and bookbags.  If the next payday or 2 don’t account for it, they can get by with what they have, but it’d be nice to have them totally squared away.

My oldest starts high school this year.  High school!!  And, high school ain’t what it used to be, lemme tell you.  Now, the list of classes reads like a college course catalog and Ohio offers different KINDS of diplomas – stuff like STEM Honors diploma, Arts/Theater Honors Diploma, Social Sciences Honors diplomas, etc.

They brought back Civics/Government, and Economics/Financial Literacy, which I’ve long said should be required learning before graduating.  You know how many kids the last 10-20 years were completely (!!) unprepared for the real world, couldn’t manage their money, and had no clue about how to be an active, aware citizen?  I’m glad these are back!

But they’re even offering things like Structural Engineering, Broadcasting, Publishing, and Ceramics.  They seem bound and determined to turn kids out who are college-ready, career-ready (some courses are designed specifically for vocational-prep), and well-studied.  Several of the classes on the list were ones I didn’t see till I was in college.

I only hope all this great learning is designed to be easy on a kid’s brain.  Too much homework has been shown to be counter-productive.  If they’re designed well, learning will be on-going, hands-on, and flow naturally.  If they’re not, kids will be overwhelmed with too much information and be stressed.

I’ll be keeping an eye on the papers sent home and how much homework the kids get.

Are you guys ready for the back to school grind?  What are you doing to prepare?