Covid-19: A child at home

Above: Amazon’s company Audible has posted a collection of its titles for free streaming.

BitDepth#1242 for March 26, 2020

By now, the blush is off the rose. We’re past the fun, easy part of working from home and trying to keep up with the child’s schoolwork.

The prospect of cabin fever may seem remote, but people are probably getting on each other’s nerves.

The child wishes she was back at school. You wish he was back with his teachers.

Every single time you settle down to work and get going, there’s a call, a cry for help, a tug on your sleeve, a well-intentioned demand on your attention.

Every. Single. Time.

Ish, as the young people say, just got real.

If you’re lucky, you’ve worked from home before, perhaps on a limited basis, and while may not have planned for an extended experience, the rhythm of it is, at least, familiar.

If this is your first time doing a sustained run of office work in a home environment while taking care of a child, then you are probably losing your mind right around now. Most likely, that was a week ago.

It’s a tough call. There is work that needs to be done.

You don’t want to just put the child in front of a television or a tablet, these unusual circumstances dictate a shared responsibility to both your employer/client and your child’s education.

But this isn’t home schooling.

Parents are expected to continue working on the school curriculum, revising work already done, testing retention and comprehension and taking the opportunity to expand engagement with schoolwork in ways that are impractical in the school classroom.

Parents are expected to continue working on the school curriculum, revising work already done, testing retention and comprehension.

Unfortunately, for some of us that can be a bit of a challenge. There’s a 54-year difference between the student in my charge and my experience with the primary school curriculum. Things have changed a bit since then.

My strategy has been to break the day down with a shared understanding of the importance of sticking to a schedule, the need to  focus and building respect for the time of others. There’s study and formally doing work from school books and other resources, creating and making stuff and then recreation, playtime after everything is done.

Some schools are completely on top of this situation, delivering significant work lists and others are not.

My own informal survey suggests that private schools are piling it on while others schools are proving more spotty in their response.

The Ministry of Education has opened its teacher portal for review, but most of the accessible work for primary school students there is either laid out in lesson outline form or focuses on students in fifth standard going into exams.

The MOE’s virtual classroom solution

What seems to be needed is a layman’s explanation of where children should have covered in school. What’s available is designed for teachers.MOE’s Big Blue Button, a system for creating virtual classrooms that’s promising but may need hands-on training that isn’t going to be available.

Between worktime and playtime is creation time, which I populate with a range of activities.

The publishers of the Rebel Girls line of books have put their professionally produced podcasts directly on their home page.

Another favorite, Audible, has posted a large collection of audiobooks for streaming on their home page with titles for all ages. There’s even more inside, so don’t be surprised if you sign up after sampling this honeypot of literature.

TT’s National Trust has posted with a PDF with activities and many creators are ramping up collections and samples for release.

Personally, I’m looking forward to a downloadable adult colouring book offering line art from local artists, particularly Miss Tull, and she knows who she is.

This remarkable situation calls for patience, planning and order, which children actually appreciate, even as they work with exuberance to up-end your efforts to bring order to your working day.