Schoolwork, Teachers, Appreciation & Adapting Through COVID 19

It seems like it has been ages since I’ve written a blog post. Perhaps that is because we’ve all had so much change in our lives over the last three months with the COVID 19 pandemic. – You may recall, late last summer, I decided to quit my child welfare job and start my Master’s degree for school social work through an online program at Aurora University.  Turns out that decision was a Godsend. I truly believe there was divine intervention occurring there because on March 13th, 2020, my children were sent home from school with a tentative return date for about two weeks later… and never went back. 
The pandemic forced governors across the nation to close schools and Illinois was among the first to do so. Since March 16th, I have been home-schooling Shamus and Finn: who were in 4th and 2nd grade. Thankfully, my stepsons’ mom was able to work from home, so she has managed their schooling.
The school that Shamus and Finn attend opted for some different set ups for e-learning. Shamus mainly did work from his textbooks and some online programs, and each week Finn’s teacher sent a matrix of work; and we had math, reading, spelling, handwriting and cursive to do daily. Our teachers did not do much virtual teaching but they were always available to help.  At the beginning, it was a gigantic struggle, especially with Finn, to get him in the mindset of “Mom is now your teacher”. There were arguments, pushback and tears. Eventually after a couple of weeks though, especially when it was becoming more clear that a return to school was unlikely, we had a routine in place. 
Throughout the difficulties, they really prevailed. Shamus pulled up all of his letter grades and both boys worked so hard and really impressed me with how well they did. I re-learned so much elementary level math, it’s not even funny!
For me, it was shocking to think I could manage teaching the boys and taking care of my own coursework which is demanding alone. I had a small panic attack when I first got the news that school would be closing for a few weeks and thought “there’s no way we can do this”. However, the concern for my kids’ health and safety will always come first and I’m now glad the state decided to keep the schools closed the rest of the school year. I have been able to keep up with my work. It’s not always pretty or done when I want it to be, but all my deadlines have been met and the boys have cheered for me as I have gotten all A’s in my classes thus far. 
School ended for them on 5/21/2020 for the summer. They are officially going on to 3rd and 5th grade in the fall, even though we don’t know exactly what school will look like.  There’s a lot of anxiety around that but we will take it on step at a time. The hardest part of this has been not seeing their grandparents and family for all this time. I’m thankful the boys have each other and their bonus brothers to keep them entertained, along with this “country life” to keep them outside and active! 
I have a newfound appreciation for all that our teachers and school staff do, and I really am amazed how they can manage more than two students at a time! I’m thankful that our family was in a position where we weren’t overly inconvenienced by the school closures; it was more a matter of adapting.  We have made some great memories: Finn has a new passion for cooking and Shamus has made his own fishing pole. We got ducklings, painted our window for Easter, have been writing cards and letters to family, filled a time capsule with information about this unprecedented time in history and Finn and I celebrated quarantine birthdays with our terrible “quarantine hair”. I’m overall just grateful that my kids, husband and our extended family members have remained healthy and safe through all of this. I hope that continues and pray the same for you all. 💙