Pandemic Homeschooling

Here it is! The mother of all homeschooling experiences. If you’ve read any of my previous blog posts, you’ll know that we were homeschooling Sol for his Pre School year before he started at EtonHouse Malaysia. We committed to a one-to-one home based learning program that allowed him to be creative, work at his own pace and make all the special needs sessions – physical therapy, speech therapy, occupational therapy and vision therapy. This was balanced with swimming lessons, capoeira and play dates.

But now we are forced to homeschool when we would like nothing better than to have Sol back in the classroom with his friends and working on his social skills while learning and interacting with his peers, like any 7 year old boy should. So maybe this post isn’t so “exclusive” to parents of kids with special education needs now! LOL.

As parents, we are all forced into sharing iPads and laptops with our kids as they TRY to learn through the screens. And it truly sucks. Let me hear you say it – I HATE COVID-19!!!!!!!

Sol says “I hate this virus” at least once/day. He is very aware that the virus has stopped his ability to leave the condo compound to walk to school, walk to his friends house, go to a park (this one breaks my heart), swim in the condo pool and all the beautiful interactions we fondly remember.

Most weeks I have a call or interaction with another parent who has cried because of homeschooling. I’ve cried too but there have been some blessings. I’m going to outline them here.

Just for the record, I am a working parent who is now homeschooling 5 hours/day BEFORE commencing my work from home. That means my day is front of a screen runs from 8.30am – 9.30pm Monday – Friday. On Fridays, we skip school…….for sanity.

HOMESCHOOLING SOL

  1. Sol is smart. He has fantastic comprehension and a good understanding of the world. He’s great with expressing his view and uses language expressively and occasionally beyond his years. BUT not in a group environment when lots of people are talking and there are too many distractions. Like when nobody mutes their call and all the kids are talking at once, with lots of background noise.
  2. When we join group lessons, Sol is easily distracted by the noise. He has managed to refocus to get the work done but not without me sitting right by his side and keeping him on task. I mute his microphone and bribe him with ROBLOX if he can finish his class work. A girls gotta do what a girls gotta do!
  3. He needs to switch off the iPad around 30 minutes into the group sessions so that we can do the work alone. This is where Sol gets his most productive time. I can assign him 2-3 pages of Math to finish alone and he will do it without me next to him. He doesn’t need my help or support and he understands the work.
  4. We are focused on the basics – Math, Language Arts and Reading. We skip Physical Education, Visual Arts and sometimes Performing Arts – here’s why….
  5. We bought a basketball hoop for Sol and set it up in a common area at our condo. This is so all the kids can use it. When Sol went back to school this year (for the 8 weeks it was open), he was disappointed that he wouldn’t be able to join the Basketball after school sessions as the schools weren’t allowed to offer any sports. He kept talking about it and asking us to get him a basketball. So we did. And the hoop. And here he is.
Shooting hoops

6. A neighbour bought a trampoline and installed it in the basement carpark. BEST ACTIVITY EVER. If you know anything about sensory processing disorders, you’ll know that bouncing on a trampoline is one of the best regulators for the body and brain and assists with learning. Sol is on that thing up to 3 hours/day! Yeah, so we don’t join the PE classes.

Bouncing the crazies out

7. Sol loves art – drawing, colouring, building. He spends hours on this too so, yeah, no Visual Arts.

8. Performing Arts – we have a little entertainer in our midst so enough said. Dance, acting, YouTube videos – we have a full on entertainment network in that little guy.

As a family, we have never been closer. This would be the BIGGEST upside of a forced lockdown for as long as we have had. Through this, Sol always has someone to talk to, hug, play with, hang out with. And we are better for it too. We are working in our office and our kids are nearby. We have had numerous dinners together and family discussions and if we get ONE thing out of this year, it’s that SOL knows how deeply he is loved, how integral he is to our family unit and that he will always have us to advocate for him. I understand HOW Sol learns and I can communicate this to his teachers and help them give Sol the best educational experience too. Once school is back in person…..