For the first good chunk of this pandemic, the whole family was schlepping into the main shop, sometimes including the dog. Everyday seemed like its own marathon: packing up extra clothes, negotiating breakfast and tooth brushing, packing lunch and snacks, planning homeschooling work the night before. And that was all before we even made it into the shop.
As we’ve found our stride, as the warm weather has come, and as curbside pickup ramps up, the kids and I have been spending more days at home. We’ve been trying to time it with the curbside pickup days (Wednesdays, Fridays, Saturdays), in part because we worry that the kids erratically shrieking and attacking each other will make customers nervous but mostly because it’s difficult to manage erratic shrieking along with customers just trying to pick up their stationery supplies and shout encouraging things above the din as they slowly back away. There’s also the weather, and the random things of life that come up, our neighbours needing to access our backyard so they can cut down their beautiful, magnificent tree, music lessons, plumbing problems in an old Victorian house.
And so we are adjusting and re-adjusting. On our home days, I generally try to get work done in the mornings, not because mornings are when I’m at my best (definitely not), but because it’s more of a priority, and things can come up that push other things to the early or late afternoon. If I plan things out right, I can sometimes do a bit of prep the night before, outlining a blog post, or getting a head start on emails, looking at catalogues. Homeschooling is important, but we gotta keep this ship afloat.
Afternoons are mostly spent outside. Sometimes I kick them out into the backyard with lunch or the dog if I’m just finishing something up. We took it easy for the first few days of the really good weather, lounging outside with books, biking up and down the laneways, hair cuts outside on the fire escape, but now we’re back into it.
Against all homeschooling advice to do reading practice or math worksheets in the morning—or really general educational pedagogy in schools, to schedule English and math and “core” classes in the morning—we sometimes manage to squeeze in a few worksheets at the kitchen table while I’m prepping dinner, before Jon gets back.
One of the most surprising blessings of this whole thing has been the timing and trajectory of Caleb’s learning curve to reading, and being the one to do reading practice with him daily and watch the words start making sense to him, whole sentences lifting off the page into the air. I remember the first time he inflected his voice as he was reading a question, raising it at the end, and I looked at him in amazement. He looked at me like I was crazy.
He was fumbling around with sounding things out for his first year of kindergarten, and he’s now in his second year. All of that groundwork laid in his brain by his teachers with phonics and sight words have begun to sprout, and what a complete and utter delight it is to bear witness to that.