Many of you have asked me how we are managing remote learning while we are on the road. Here are a few of the things we keep in mind as we strive to maintain a healthy learning environment while the kids learn remotely in fifth, seventh and ninth grade.
1) We don't travel or move through states during the school week. We leave major explorations or traveling between states to the weekends. During the school week we stay put and enjoy the local surroundings without taking any major excursions. Now that school has begun we will be staying in one place for at least one week at a time.
2) We are currently in Central Standard Time which means we are an hour behind their NYC school schedule. Because of the time difference, we have to wake up earlier than usual so that all three kids are ready for their first zoom meeting at 7:30 am CST. Next week we will begin to head west which will surely pose a challenge as we will need to wake up earlier and earlier as we cross the country. The good news is, they will finish school early leaving ample time for hikes and explorations during the weekdays!
3) Before booking a house, I ensure that there is a strong WiFi signal. With five of us on the computer throughout the day, a strong signal is crucial!
4) Staying organized is a must. I have all three of their schedules at hand and review them each morning in order to anticipate any breaks or down time. Lucky for me, they each have a different lunch break. Rather than all eating lunch together, I find myself making back to back lunches in the late morning/early afternoon.
Learning remotely while on a road trip is really quite manageable. NYC schools are currently all remote so our kids don't feel like they are missing the opportunity to see their friends. Many of their peers opted for remote only learning throughout the year. When school resumes, they will be part of the majority that learns remotely too. This knowledge has really helped appease any ideas of "missing out" or wanting to return to school. They are extremely happy with the opportunity to explore the USA while studying online. On the other hand, we are also aware that they will be ready to head back to NYC as soon as schools return to what they call "normal" (will this ever happen? what will the new "normal" be?)
Ideally, a remote learning student will work at a desk in a quiet environment. While we are able to provide each of them a quiet environment, it has proven difficult to find a home that suits us that also has three desks. As of now, one child has a desk in his room, another child works in the dining room, and the third child works in his room with out a desk. In the next house I booked, no one will have a desk. We will have to find creative ways for them to each find a quiet nook at a table. For obvious reasons I don't like the idea of one of them sitting hunched over their computer on their bed or floor. They can't share the dining room table because of all the live meetings taking place. Unfortunately, at least one child gets the floor/bed as their workspace and we will rotate this less than ideal environment among them until we are able to score a home with more tables in separate spaces.
Because of the time difference, they have been finishing their school day at 1:30pm CST. An early end to the day leaves me scrambling for ways to keep them busy and entertain them for long periods of time. When we were bouncing around cities and states the days went by faster and were filled with activities. Nowadays the days seem longer leaving me having to direct everyone in tasks and schedules during the seven-eight hours that are left vacant before their bed time. After this week I may have to return to some homeschooling and spend an hour or two teaching them myself as I did when the pandemic first broke. I am taking this week to mentality prepare for that reality.
Overall, the transition to learning on the road has been a smooth one. I am so grateful for their wonderful teachers who have launched a meaningful curriculum that fills their days. I am also filled with gratitude that they are able to learn firsthand, outside of school, about our beautiful country. It has been a wonderfully educational experience for them, and us as well. Mostly I am thankful for strong WiFi signals because with out a strong connectivity, none of this would be possible!