Here at Reaching Higher NH, we’re learning how to cope with our “new normal”: working from home, while also learning how to step in to support our kids’ remote learning. 

It’s a learning curve for all of us. With so many families in a similar situation, we thought it would be a good idea to share what’s happening in our own homes. How have our lives changed? What does life look like for us now? How have our children’s schools supported us in supporting our child? 

Today, we hear from Christina Pretorius, our Communications Director. Here is her story:

My three kids are 1, 4, and 5. My daughter is in kindergarten, and my 4 year old son attends morning preschool twice a week — both at our local public school. This week, we’ve been working on adjusting our schedules to accommodate remote instruction — with young children, all of their classwork is guided, which means we have to carve out time for it between nap, meal and snacktimes, and playtime. Sometime in between that, my husband and I also need to get our own work done!

My son receives speech therapy through his IEP, and we’re figuring out what that will look like now. The special education department at our school has notified us that his teachers will be in contact to talk about next steps, so we’re staying patient. We know that there are a lot of students that need services, and the department is doing everything they can to support our students. There are a number of logistical, practical, and even legal considerations to this — and it might take some time.  

As for their other work, I don’t have any experience as an educator, so I will be leaning on the support of our amazing teachers to help me with keeping my kids on track. So far, they’ve given us updates every step of the way: via email, text, and Facebook. Both teachers have reached out with information about what the school is doing, gave us resources on how to talk to our young children about COVID-19 in an age appropriate way (helpful for me, as my daughter — like many other children — picks up on my family’s anxiety and worry!), and are quick to answer any questions we have.

Both of my kids ask daily (and sometimes a few times a day) when they can go back to school, see their friends, and hug their teachers. We watch the daily online story reading videos with their librarian, and my daughter is so comforted by seeing her face. And her pet turtle, Sheldon. 

My kids (and myself!) thrive on routine, but we’re also taking this opportunity to take things in stride. Remote learning is uncharted territory for my husband and I, and I’ll admit that I’m feeling a bit overwhelmed after picking their materials up from school on Monday. My daughter has been working on many of the concepts for a few weeks now (number bonds, manipulatives, etc) so I’m using the “see one, do one, teach one” method to have her show me how she usually works through the lesson, and go from there.

“Oh, we did this in class!” was music to my ears when I opened up her math folder and she saw the number bonds worksheet. I remembered them from a math open house back in the fall, but not enough to be helpful. After her mini-lesson, I could even create a few more problem sets for her to practice.

We are working off of the daily schedule that her kindergarten teacher provided for us to make sure we have some structure. We’ll also be leaning heavily into the games and activities we have at home, like play dough, Candyland (my personal favorite), and building blocks to keep busy when it’s raining outside. I’m also blocking off time during the day in my work calendar for school activities, so I can be fully present with my children. It might not be the same time day to day because of meetings or deadlines, but I’m hoping that it will help keep me and my family on track. 

The entire community is rallying around our students, families, and schools, and it’s inspiring to be a part of. We, like many other families, are anxious to help our neighbors. But we know that the best course of action right now is to practice social distancing as much as possible. 

And, we’ve made sure to thank our teachers and school administration. They pulled together weeks of instruction in just a few days — such a testament to their professionalism and dedication to their work. 

Read part one of this series, written by our Interim Deputy Director and Director of Policy and Practice, Liz Canada: “Hooray! All day Xbox!”: How RHNH staff is adjusting to our “new normal” in the world of remote learning

Next week, Sarah Robinson, our Senior Project Manager, will write about what it’s like in her house these days. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter to keep up with all of our staff’s stories!