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 Sarah Robinson, our Senior Project Manager. Here is her story:

The Robinson Family is made up of two parents, two kiddos (ages 5 and 6.5), one dog, and one cat. It has been an interesting experience to manage the needs of all of these beings in a structured and joyful way, while trying to engage in my own self care. 

We enjoy a lot of privilege in our household. I am working to keep that in perspective. There are families in our state that are trying to manage working outside of the home with children at home. Health care professionals, grocery clerks, social workers, soup kitchen employees: the essential workers in our lives are working overtime. We are thinking of them in this critical time. 

I also have the privilege of having neurotypical kiddos. Our school work struggles evolve around staying focused and keeping the work fun. The parents out there who are now managing their own child’s IEP or 504 plan at home, my heart is with you in this moment. This is difficult work.

I am not a teacher. I am a community organizer and that vocation has been brought to a considerable halt at the moment. My mother was a teacher and I have a sister who has taught in every grade you can imagine, including college level courses. I substitute taught early in my career and this homeschooling effort feels a lot like that to me: The teacher leaves work for you to do with the class with zero expectation of what will be accomplished, just the hope that you can get the kids to glean *something* while the environment has changed. I’m taking on the role of teacher’s helper, while heavily relying on their actual educators expertise. I feel less pressure this way. I am not expected to be perfect at this. None of us are. My growth at this time is in giving myself the space to fail- in the imperfection of rushed execution; not knowing what I’m doing, but trying anyway.

We’ve set up a daily schedule that’s posted on the kitchen wall. I’ve implemented a point system for the girls as a motivator for the workpages their teachers have sent home. They can work toward unstructured screen time. We’ve brainstormed different themes for each day to keep the girls engaged in what and how we’re learning. We play a lot of music throughout the day and have started trying out popular music from around the world. I’m pulling out all the stops to keep some semblance of fun in all of this work we’re trying to stay caught up on. Is it exhausting? Yes. Is it sustainable? I’m not sure. We try to punctuate the more structured moments with outdoor play. We love to garden and go hiking with the dog. We are watching the birds that come to our feeders and looking up any new ones in our bird reference books.  These moments of being in and working with nature are helping us to feel grounded. 

I am also grounded in my own personal relationships, especially with my colleagues at Reaching Higher NH. Our daily check-ins are helping me feel less alone in my efforts. We’re all parents, though our children vary in age. Knowing they, too, are coaxing kiddos into doing math problems while managing their inboxes is comforting. We make a great team and their support and commiseration are giving me buoyancy during this time of upheaval. I had never considered services like Zoom or Google Hangouts to be tools that I could utilize beyond work, but check-ins with close friends (and my kiddos friends from school) have been bright moments for us. 

As we settle in to the next few weeks, I have a deeper respect for the work our educators do. I am also feeling more energized in the work we’re doing at Reaching Higher NH. Public schools are the cornerstones of our communities, and that has been no more apparent than in the past few days. New Hampshire is a very special place to call home. If anything, this experience has made me love it even more. Onward and upward, everyone.  

Read other articles in this series:

Tomorrow, NH Alliance Director Nicole Heimarck 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!