Yesterday we wrapped up our second week of homeschooling. 

Well, it’s kind of the third week for me because Clayton happened to be out with a cold and sinus infection the week prior to school closing… just my luck.

I have talked to many friends and other parents who are feeling incredibly overwhelmed, not only with the work load but with the amount of pressure their child’s school is putting on them. I have heard from multiple parents they have been threatened in letters and emails home that their 5 year old will not progress to the next grade level if the work sent home isn’t completed on schedule and up to par. 

Hearing this just made me feel so sad for the children and families who not only feel the weight of that on their shoulders, but also the ones who aren’t capable of doing it. 

I’m currently homeschooling my two older kids (8 and 5), an advanced second grader who does a lot of third grade work and my preschooler who needs to be ready for kindergarten in the fall.

We are fortunate enough to be a part of a school that has been more amazing during this time than I could have ever imagined. They are open for conversation, they are asking for opinions. They are going above and beyond for their students and families, all while letting us know they do not want any family to feel stressed or frustrated by this process. This warm, empathetic vibe allows me to take a deep breath and a step back as needed to make sure we are doing what is right for our family. 

So I thought I would share what we are doing over here.

When this started I knew I had to keep a schedule because otherwise my kids wouldn’t take it seriously, nor would they get out of their pajamas all day. Clayton would literally lay on the couch for 12 hours and Charlie would eat every snack in the pantry. I had to implement some order or it would be a free for all and total chaos! 

The day before we started, I went over my expectations for them. They need act like they do at school- respectful, kind and courteous.

My son attends a Montessori school, and is very conscientious so I know he is capable of working independently, being productive and self directing his education. I wanted to keep this same momentum and so my goal was to encourage him to work in a flexible and creative work cycle. The independent work is also important because I also have a baby to care for who needs a lot of my time, in addition to all the regular day to day cleaning, cooking, etc. 

The first day was a little wonky. I didn’t really know what to do, they didn’t know what to do. My son just kept complaining he didn’t have his works aka Montessori materials. He just wanted to read the same Dogman book like 800 times (in his head 🤔) and call it a day. 

I grabbed the book Charlottes Web and told him to read it out loud to his sister, 1 chapter a day. Then he needed to discuss to make sure his sister understands, write sentences about it after each chapter and they could watch the movie when they finished.  Whew. That took a little load off. 

By the end of the day we had paperwork, notebooks, pencils, etc covering the dining room table… which by the way is our only table. 

Something had to change.

I went online to Michaels, bought this rolling cart along with two tackle boxes and some organizing bins that were all half and did curb side pick up. I stocked it will all of their work plans, tools and supplies. Another tip I have is that I set a reminder on Alexa for every weekday at 9am to tell the kids to start school work, that way it isn’t me telling them to get to work every day and they do it on their own. Although sometimes they pretend they didn’t hear it. 

After this I wrote out our schedule, which is as follows:

8:00-9:00 is their time to get dressed, eat breakfast, use their iPads and relax a little. I do not allow video games because it is too much of a fight when it’s time to get off. 

9:00-12:00 is their morning work cycle. During this time I expect them to do some form of independent work. Clayton needs to choose a math work, read, and write in his notebook. For writing he usually either chooses to do bare bones sentences or answer questions about Charlottes web but he could make up a story if he wanted. 

This work block is not limited to these subjects though. He can choose to do anything educational or helpful… go outside and find things in nature, clean out the dishwasher, put a puzzle or Lego together. As long as he is making an effort to educate himself in a productive way then he gets to choose. Obviously Charlie doesn’t have as much required work. She does practice writing her letters in her workbook but spends a majority of her morning drawing or creating. 

When the morning work block is over they clean their stuff up, load it in the cart and put it away. 

From noon to 1:00 is lunch and outside time. This ranges- many times it goes until 1:30… it’s basically whenever I need to put Colby down for a nap. 

From 1:00 to 3:00 while Colby is napping they have quiet time. During this time they can read or use educational technology.  Clayton logs on to the online programs offered through the school district. He watches social studies related content, history or science. Sometimes he likes to watch earth odyssey which is also fine. Charlie plays on ABC Mouse during this time, but that’s not to say I haven’t caught her watching liv and Maddie on occasion. 

After Colby wakes up they go back outside for a while or play barbies, watch tv, etc. At 4:00 if they have been productive, not fighting and done something helpful, Clayton is allowed to use video games and Charlie can watch her YouTube videos, which has always been the rule here (no technology between 10-4). 

Reading back through this, it all sounds so easy. I assure you it is not. We have good days and we have bad days. On the good days my kids only bicker a little, work independently for a period of 15 minutes before getting distracted and then need to be redirected. On the bad days, they fight non stop. They are constantly bothering each other, whining and being defiant.  Even on the good days we have arguments and tears about it. 

All of the stress of this is amplified by having a very needy 18 month old who often follows me around fussing and tugging at my legs. 

I have explained to Clayton that this is not summer break even though it feels like it. That kids all over this country have to be homeschooling, or worse, have parents who do not care about them or their education and fall more and more behind every day. I told him that this is not easy for me either and I need his cooperation to make it as happy as possible. He gets it, yet I still get told I’m “the worst” and “the meanest” accompanied by eye rolls and grunts an average of 5 times an hour. 

I know that what goes on at my house is not perfect by any means. But I’m trying, and they are trying. My hope is we all settle into a groove and there end up being more good days than bad and that my children dont feel the enormous amounts of anxiety that I do and don’t remember this as a stressful time. 

I will continue to post about more specific works that the kids are enjoying. For now I am going to leave you with a portion of an email from our school principal, because I think everyone needs them, opposed to the type of emails some schools are sending out. This is how you know you’re in the right school family. 

I came across this online and thought it was wise, so I share it now:

"The world feels scary right now. Rather than allow your kids to absorb your fear and angst, let them remember these weeks as the time their parents cut loose and let them have video game marathons. Let them make fun meals. Let them stay up late.Allow yourself to be a little more wild and care free within the walls of your 
home. Don't let this time become a childhood trauma."

Ultimately, the goal of the work we are sending home is to keep kids connected to learning. We do not want to stress or overburden students, parents, or caregivers.


Supplies Links

Rolling Cart

Square trays

Rectangular trays

Tackle boxes

Clear bin

 

Clayton said something the other day that really took me by surprise and made me pause. We were talking about a project he was short listed for and a callback that he had been preparing for for the past 3 weeks. It was going to be last Friday but got bumped. I suggested to him to say a prayer about it. He said “No, I’m not going to I don’t want to jinx it”. I told him praying doesn’t jinx things. He said “Mom, every time I work hard and really want something to happen and pray about it, it doesn’t happen”. This instantly made me sad- that he associates praying and seeking support from God with being a jinx, “bad luck” and negativity. Determined to prove him wrong, I told him I’d say prayers- I know he could play this role in his sleep he’s been preparing for so long, they will of course love him.

I realize it may seem silly to some to pray for something like this. And you don’t have to tell me that there are far greater prayers going out… especially during times like these. I get it. 

But I don’t think that makes any prayer less significant than another. And when the hard work and investment put into roles  feels really important to this 8 year old, it’s worth some prayers. 

So when I encourage him to pray for comfort and Gods will, it makes me really sad that he doesn’t find that in prayer and actually feels the opposite. How do you teach a child that even when you give something 110% and pray to God for it to happen and it doesn’t, time and time again, that it’s not the praying or God that is at fault. That we don’t get to blame things on God. 

This is a hard lesson. And to be honest I don’t know the right answer because even as an adult I have fallen to my knees and questioned “why Lord?” 

And now yesterday, I was told the callback he’s been preparing for, for nearly a month, cut him- to save time with shutdowns and filming right around the corner. So when he said to me: “please don’t pray anymore mom you’re going to jinx it” …what do I say now?  

This is like a punch to the gut. I literally feel nauseas and starved for air.

These are the days that I hide in a closet and scream and cry because I know I’m about to break my child’s heart…again and when I do I will have to be strong for him, encouraging and most importantly positive.

I have to tell him how amazing he is and how some kids don’t ever even get a single callback let alone as close as he has come. I have to talk about all the maybes- like maybe they wanted an older or younger kid or Maybe they wanted a quirkier kid or one with freckles or a southern accent. Maybe the kid who got the part has been doing this for years and never booked anything and this is his big pop. I have to tell him we should feel happy for the boy who got the role because he’s been working really hard too. 

I have to tell him how wrong he is when he says he feels like he’s not good enough and he is never going to book anything and hug him while he cries. 

Then there are days like this one when I just don’t say anything and hope enough time goes by that he will forget about it. 

Clayton feels every emotion so deeply. He doesn’t let anything role off his shoulders easily.

I don’t have all the answers, hell, I don’t know that I have any answers- especially when it comes to the right way to handle so many disappointments. I’m sure that replying to agents and mangers and saying wtf?! and telling them how pissed off I am is probably not the appropriate response, and I’m sure they’re thinking I’m a loon at this point but I AM pissed that production doesn’t care about kid’s feelings and that’s considered “business as usual” especially in times like these when maybe these kids are already feeling stressed and scared and could use something like acting to take their mind off things instead of make them feel worse. I AM tired of breaking my kids heart. I AM terrified that no matter how much my child loves everything to do with acting and being on set he will choose to leave the industry before getting his big break because he’s tired of working his butt off and ending up in tears, and…that he’ll end up regretting it. 

I don’t claim to know much about this industry. Every day and every experience is new to me. I try to be open and absorb as much knowledge as I can. I do know it’s hard AF in every imaginable way. And I know people think my kids not an actor because he hasn’t booked anything- I see the eye rolls, I hear the scoffs and I feel how our friendship has changed because of the jealousy. Regardless of what anyone thinks- He is an actor. He proves it every day. This is what the acting journey is. And I don’t say any of this because we aren’t extremely thankful for all of these opportunities and people on our team, because we are. We are so incredibly thankful. I say all of this because this industry is so overly glamorized. The allure of being an actor or model is based on an illusion…that you just book a movie and are famous over night. It doesn’t work like that. Sorry. And as I’ve promised all along, I have no intention of sugar coating what this experience is for us, and for others- whether it’s what they’re posting or not