IDAHO FALLS – Temporary schools under residential orders are a new reality for the Idaho family – a reality that needs some adjustments for many people.
The Idaho State Board of Education decided Monday to extend the closure of public schools until the end of the school year, but local districts still have the option to reopen their schools. At the same time, many families began attending school from home.
The school is carried out in various ways, from video conferencing to receiving homework packages in the mail. And, not only children have to adjust, but also their parents.
“Last Wednesday we went to a children’s school and they were each given a Chromebook,” Leslie Landon, a mother of three children. “So they each have to check Chromebooks from school, which I think is brave enough from school.”
Landon has twin 12-year-old daughters and a 14-year-old son who all attend Shelley until the district closes school. Until Monday, Landon said that the experience at home in their home was quite relaxed.
“(Schoolwork) just sort of trickled last week. So it was like a long spring break, “he said.
Their routine consisted of occasionally checking for new assignments throughout the day. Many of the assignments, he said, were either assigned for the following week or had far-due dates in the future.
“You know, kids like to procrastinate,” Landon said.
Her three children are straight-A students and she decides to make their schoolwork their responsibility to complete.
“Today, children seem to be much more stressed because they have more tasks,” he said.
Landon, however, believes his family can adjust to the new school method.
“I think it’s like a learning curve for everyone,” he said.
Shantelle Oliphant, a mother of six children from Rexburg, has children ranging in age from five to 16. She said she had tried homeschooling her children in the past but was unable to maintain it because of her and her husband’s work schedule. But changes in this school made him excited.
“It’s rather difficult to balance their work and school. I think I only work all the time. But now, in the way it was established and the teachers taking a large amount of responsibility for motivation and accountability, it really freed me to become a facilitator who supported them, “Oliphant said.
Both she and her husband are teachers because of trade. He teaches at Brigham Young-Idaho University and he is a professor for West Governor University, an online university. Both now work from home.
“We only make tag-teams. So while I work for a few hours, he doesn’t work and when he has a laboratory in the afternoon, I don’t work. So kids do have flexibility on what subject they will discuss at what time of day, “Oliphant said.
He said he had instilled in his children the understanding that their school at home was their “new normal,” although there was a possibility that the school would reopen before the end of the school year.
“I think it’s important for children to understand that this is a new normal and it’s not just a temporary fix, even though the district says it as ‘This is temporary, this is a soft closing …’ I just don’t think it’s a healthy outlook for children, “Oliphant said.
While schooling at home may be new to many children, traditional homeschoolers want people to understand that this is not the same as homeschooling.
“What most homeschoolers do looks far different from what most public schools have thrown in now,” Alix Watson Barney, a homeschooling mother of three children from Rexburg, said.
Kylee Bryan, from Rexburg, said parents are teachers when they study at home. Parents with children attend public schools from home to help teachers.
Gwen Cutler from Shelley said that homeschooling generally involves more social interaction than people can do now.
“We have a variety of activities, cooperatives, and social gatherings that we usually do and bring our children there. Being locked up is very difficult for us and our children too, “Cutler said.
Barney said he felt for parents who did not study at home who had been driven to school from home.
“I also feel a lot of sympathy for the teachers who are trying to really change their school programs to suit big changes in lifestyle. I think everything will be extraordinary for everyone involved, “Barney said.
Landon said it was shocking for his children but believed they were ready for the challenge.
“I think I will get better about checking in and I think they just need to find out,” Landon said.
Oliphant said the surprising side effect of children who have to stay at home is that they are starting to be more attached.
“I think they will fight a little more or argue with each other or want too much screen time, but it’s almost like the stress of COVID-19 has created an atmosphere where they truly care for each other,” Oliphant said.
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