school kid looking at supplies on desk
Faith,  Fatherhood

Distance Learning with a Stay-at-home-Dad

school kid looking at supplies on desk

I think I shared the same concerns as every parent when summer was coming to a close and decisions were being made about how our kids would be returning to school. Our school’s principal handled the situation very well by holding several Zoom meetings open to all the families of children who attended our kid’s school. We were presented with several options:

1. Allow the kids to go back to school in the fall as if Covid-19 had never happened. I don’t know how many parents were considering this option, but we have taken this outbreak very seriously and this didn’t seem like an option we wanted to take. We started looking into 100% homeschool options. The major issue with pulling the kids out of school is getting them back in once the school reopened. Our school is a parent’s choice school and it’s very difficult to get in, so losing that priority would mean our kids would be in a much less desirable school in our home town.

2. Opt for a hybrid return where kids distance learn for a portion of the week or day and attend school in person for the opposite portion of the week or day. We thought this would be the best option for the kiddos. It would allow them to limit exposure, while still being able to socialize and exercise in a group setting, however, this didn’t seem like the most popular option because the standards placed on the schools in order to allow this to happen were far too strict. I don’t know if you’ve ever met kids, but they’re not great at keeping their hands to themselves and covering their mouths and just being sanitary in general. Which left us with the final option:

3. Full-time distance learning where the kids stay home 100% of the time, attend classes via Zoom, and still have a regular teacher and adjusted curriculum. Like many families, we were concerned about how the kids would socialize and exercise, but we were thankful that I had already been the S.A.H.P. for over a year and we didn’t have to find anyone to watch the kids all day while we worked. I know that most families don’t have that luxury, and it is not lost on us how incredibly blessed we are to

not have that added burden on our shoulders. We started looking into homeschool options just in case this happened but our school is a Parent’s Choice school and if we pulled them for a traditional home school option they would lose their priority and we wouldn’t be able to get them back in, if and when schools reopen.

When I first became a S.A.H.P. I told my wife we should go all out and put the kids into a homeschool program that would allow us to have more control over the pace of the kids schooling, as well as trying to keep them somewhat more sheltered from this crazy world for just a little bit longer, I guess we’re weird that way. Little did I know reversing roles in our home, not working, not bringing in income, and being with my kids full time, from morning to night, every single day, was going to drastically change all of our lives.

For the first year or so of being home, I started to realize how incredibly difficult it is to not have a break from your kids. We realized that we were actively avoiding time with the kids because we would take them to school in the morning, then they would attend an after-school program and we wouldn’t pick them up until about 6 pm. By the time they got home, we would have enough time to clean up, eat, and get to bed before doing it all over again the next day. I thought I was being a good parent and knocking it out of the park, until summer that is.

Summer is when things really changed. I was home with the kids all day long. Five little humans running around, needing me, asking for snacks, pooping, running around, screaming, being bored. It was WAY too much for me to handle and I started to get really depressed and anxious. I knew then and there that keeping the kids in school was going to be the best option. I know I couldn’t handle the day to day responsibility of caring for the kids, as well as being their teacher. My patience was wafer-thin and it was only going to be a poor experience for both myself and the kids if we had decided to take on homeschooling.

Fast forward to 2020 and look at God, he went ahead and threw us in the deep end so we had to sink or swim. I’m happy to report that He knew what he was doing and he will not bring you to something that he will not bring you through. I know it sounds cliché, but I really believe that 2020 has been a blessing in disguise. I had to go through some major growth as an individual, as a husband, and as a parent, but it has all been for the best. More on that later though.

So it shouldn’t come as a surprise, we live in California and most schools decided to go into full-time distance learning. We were nervous, but without having much of a choice, we dove in and things have been going really well. We set up desks for the kids to have their own workspaces, we got them mice (mouses?) for their Chromebooks, headphones, and even backdrops so their classmates wouldn’t be distracted by all the craziness in the background with Penny and Jaxon running around. We have fostered a great relationship with all the teachers and our communication is the best it’s ever been. Sherée and I have had awesome breakthrough moments in teaching the kids different ways to approaching problem-solving because our brains all work differently, and there is an overall sense of peace in our home because we’re no longer rushing to get out the door in the morning, or getting everything done in the evening.

I personally had to really evaluate myself which lead to the growth I was referring to earlier. I finally started seeing a therapist and a psychiatrist, I was prescribed medication that has helped me immensely, and our life at home, although not perfect, has become so much more fun and healthy and rewarding. We know now that if we decided to take on homeschooling in the future, we may actually be able to handle it. The major caveat to distance learning is that the kids still have schedules, so unlike homeschooling where you can work at your own pace, we can’t take time away as a family to take trips or do anything fun during the week, but overall the experience has been shockingly positive.

So I guess the takeaway is: decisions are incredibly difficult when it comes to our kids, their overall wel-being, and their education. Sometimes we can avoid making certain decisions out of fear, pride, or even selfish reasons but if you are constantly working on self-evaluation and staying close to God in prayer, He will show  you the path. It may be extremely difficult, but being obedient will work out in the long run. God may even force your hand a bit if He knows that is best for our lives but we don’t want to take the leap for one reason or another. I was so scared to be the parent my kids needed me to be in order to take on the task of not only caring for them, but also teaching them, and I am so glad this decision was made for me because it has truly been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life as a parent thus far.

How have you been fairing during these crazy times? What kind of return plans did your school offer and what did you choose to do in the fall? Are you happy with your choices? Let’s have a dialogue in the comments, I’d love to know how you’re feeling. Thank you so much for taking the time to read my blog today! I appreciate you and I hope you consider subscribing so I can share new posts whenever they’re live. Peace and Love friends. ✌️💚

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