Keep Calm But Don’t Carry On Normal Life

Judy Kramer
County Reporter
Parents who never planned on home schooling their children are learning quickly what it is like to be a teacher. They are saying things like “It is a whole new world,” or “It is hard to figure out computer time for the kids,” and “Structure is the only way I can make this work.”
Adam Howe, father to a fourth, sixth and 10th grader, had a family meeting to discuss ways to adapt to this new type of living and learning. 
“We couldn’t say ‘See that you get your homework done,’ and leave them to it,” said Howe. “They needed to be taught, so we decided to set up a schedule. Teachers were emailing homework and I began checking it regularly and printing out the assignments. I put the work in three manila folders, one for each kid’s grade level. Then, we began the following schedule. Arise at 8:30 AM, make the bed and eat breakfast. Begin homework at 9AM and stop for lunch at 12 or 12:30 PM. On Monday/Wednesday/Friday we do chores in the afternoon. On Tuesday/Thursday the afternoons are for free time. A physical activity hour is planned each afternoon and the kids can choose to play a sport, work out, or be active in some other way.”
Howe said that no social media is allowed during homework or chore time. But, they can use the phone to call another student or teacher for help with their work. He said all three kids need access to the computer and he has had to upgrade his WiFi to allow for that.
“I feel good about the way our kids are reacting to this new way of schooling,” said Howe. “I work on Main Street and am able to stop by the house for lunch, and see them doing exactly what they are supposed to be doing.”
Warsaw R-IX School Superintendent, Dr. Shawn Poyser, said that assignments were sent out last week via email to grades 3-12 students and by mail to those with internet issues. The assignments were for two weeks of work that could be done at home and turned in to teachers when school resumes. All of grades K-2 were mailed their assignments.
“Now that Governor Parson has extended school closings to April 6, we will have to make some adjustments,” said Dr. Poyser. “I can see that possible school closures may even extend further than that. All school employees are being paid while schools are closed, including bus drivers and cooks.”
Dr. Poyser said that all students and their families are given food packets once a week on Thursdays, to be picked up from North and South Elementary schools. One parent picked up for 11 families last week and distributed packets to homes. Volunteers are helping out. The foods are bulk items as well as some fresh perishables. For instance, this week, apples and oranges will be included. And if someone runs out of food, the families can get more. He said that the once-a-week distribution lessens exposure that could result in contact with the COVID-19.
“MAPS Testing has been cancelled for this year, and that takes a lot of stress off of the kids and teachers,” said Dr. Poyser. “The teachers are also in touch with their students and their parents, including my wife, a teacher who sends messages to her students every day.”
He said that summer school is currently planned to take place from May 19 to June 19, but that could change. 
Jessica Burdick said that it has been difficult trying to fit in lessons for her two children in the evening. But, she is trying out a schedule where she and husband, Drew, are able to alternate lunch schedules to be available to work with their kids. She took a day off this week to help them with homework.
“My older son is very responsible and can handle directions and his work most of the time,” said Burdick. “But, the younger one needs more guidance. I am trying to keep them engaged, have fun, and try new things. I found a craft on Pinterest for decorating with Easter eggs. Last week, Drew took the kids to the library where they checked out a lot of books to read. The library was also handing out pamphlets with online resources to help with their work. They also have chores to do, and I limit time on devices.”
She said that her oldest son was keeping in touch with other students, but the younger one is not into phones and gets bored easily and wants to play. 
“I love what North School is doing,” said Burdick. “The teachers are going on Facebook and doing read alouds for the children. It is good for them to see new faces.”
Burdick is in a parent support group that helps her, and she said “It is a whole new world!” But, she is thankful that her kids are a little older than some going through homeschooling.
Kayla Redwing has a kindergartener and a second grader. She is a paraprofessional at North School and says that her educational background helps her work with her kids.
“The school sent us assignments and put together an online resource where we can print worksheets,” said Redwing. “The assignments and online resources help a lot, but I have to pay a little more for printing because I have a program at home where I pay a certain amount a month for 100 copies. I am printing more than that now.”
Redwing said that teachers in K through 6th grade can be called, texted, or emailed by parents or kids, and she has been able to send pictures of her kids’ work. She has a schedule worked out where she works with her second grader on one subject, then takes a break. Then, she works on another subject and takes another break. She says they are transitioning to this new way to learn.
“This will really open everyone’s eyes. Our school will look into how to better serve our students if something like this happens again.”