This is by far the most personal and vulnerable thing I’ve written in awhile, but I feel that in my position as Parent Connection Coordinator, it’s pretty spot on for what we’re dealing with as parents right now. I’ve worked in Infant A here at Young Scholars Academy for 2 years. Before that I stayed home with my two boys, and before that worked with infants and toddlers for 7 years. Ask me anything about infant feeding, sleep, development, car seats, etc and I either have the answer or I know where to find it. Most of my knowledge base is invested in those topics because they are what I’m passionate about. My boys are 6 and 3 though, so as a mom I’m in uncharted territory. My 6 year old is in 1st grade this year and the entire mess of trying to figure out schooling truly started this past spring when everything shut down and schools were forced to implement a last minute e-learning schedule. I felt it right along with other moms (and dads too!) when the stress of all the decisions came into play. I’ve been stressed along side them. We’ve all seen the memes and posts on Facebook about no decision being the right one or the wrong one, but for our family (and so many others) it was extremely difficult.
My 6 year old has special needs, some of which we’re still in the process of screening and figuring out. These make it very hard for him to process and regulate the flow of sensory input and how his body reacts to those stimuli. The first Zoom meeting we had with his teacher this spring ended about 30 seconds in when she un-muted all the students so everyone could say hi. He slammed the laptop down and ran away with his hands over his ears and needed about 30 minutes to regain his composure and talk about what had happened. We didn’t attend anymore Zoom meetings after that. The other struggles of simply getting him to do the assignments seem to be echoed by so many parents that I actually felt a smidge better. We didn’t know what e-learning was going to look like until kids could return in person, but we knew we didn’t want him in school quite yet. Sensory issues were going to make so many things more challenging and I didn’t want to put that on him or the teachers and staff.
Less than a week before e-learning was to begin for this school year, a schedule was released that included quite a few Zoom meetings everyday, and that set my panic mode and my mom mode into overdrive. I needed to find the best solution for my son and our family. This schedule wasn’t going to work for him with me at work full time, but I also really love my job and didn’t want to have to leave to make this work. Zoom meetings were a nightmare and his ability to work independently has been historically disastrous. It looked like a lose lose situation for quite awhile. I think I must have googled “can you home school and work full time?” 3 or 4 times before it really started to look like a viable option. I know I annoyed my poor co-teacher talking myself from one decision to another, then to yet another. It’s like I felt if I could convince her it was going to work, then it was going to work. Really though, I was trying to convince myself.
We attended back to school day and left even more confused and uncertain and the next day we sat down to talk. Our options were to push forward with e-learning and hope that someone could convince him to do his work and get through the zoom meetings, or I could pull him from school and home school. Ultimately we decided to pull and home school. I found an amazing curriculum for core subjects and have the flexibility to supplement with other subjects like STEM, art and music in ways that I know he’ll enjoy. It’s actually been a huge relief going this route and connecting with many more families who have done the same thing. An amazing bonus is that I still get to come to my amazing job every day.
None of this is to say that I appreciate the teachers, staff and administrators any less. This entire situation has been insane and everyone is getting through it the best way they know how. Ultimately though, giving myself the permission to make the hard decisions that are in the best interest of my son was amazing. There isn’t just one right way to educate children. One child may learn a different way and won’t fit in to one mold. While we prove this everyday at YSA, once the kiddos are older it’s hard to see there are other paths. A very big piece of the puzzle is having the support to carry out those plans and to figure things out. So, while things are still uncertain and hazy going forward, know that YOU are going to be the best one to make decisions about what to do for your family. It’s so true that there isn’t a right or wrong answer when it comes to school right now, but supporting each other and our kids is the first step.
Thank you for reading.
Infant Nursery Supervisor
Parent Connection Coordinator