We Survived A Year Of Remote Learning!

We did it. We made it. We survived a year of remote learning. I’m talking to you. I’m talking to me. I’m talking to our kids. I’m talking to all the educators who reeled in a screen of little faces every single day and administrators who made it all work. Oh my gosh. WE MADE IT!

Three kids on the first day of remote learning
First day of remote learning September, 2020

We Are Lucky We Had A Choice

This year has been filled with ups and downs, fear and freight, but without a doubt – success. My kids did so well, our district did SO well, and most important we all stayed healthy. We are a family who opted to keep our kids home for a full year of remote learning even though our school district offered full time in person school for elementary grades. We did this for many reasons – because we had a choice, to mitigate the risk of getting Covid-19, and because it was right for our family. We were lucky to have this choice and lucky to be able to be home.

A 5th grader doing remote learning outside on a nice day.

180 Saturdays Bonus

I often think about the concept of the “940 Saturdays” one gets with their child from birth to leaving for college. A concept that I try to see embroidered on a pillow when I want to donate one of my children to science. It is a concept I thought of many, many, many times this year – but in a whole new way. I thought to myself – wow – this year was a bonus.

A 2nd grader doing remote learning outside on a nice day.

This year – thanks to a global pandemic – I received a bonus of 180 “Saturdays”. Days filled with walks, bike rides, grandparent visits, chats, and snuggling on the couch during lunch time. Days of afternoon hikes, weeknight sibling fort sleepovers, swing set reconfiguration, and being a fly on the wall in my kid’s classrooms.

A 5th grade remote learner enjoying a fall day outside during recess

A Reprieve From Our Normal Life

Even better – there was no buying school supplies, no screaming to get their shoes on in the morning, no racing to the bus, no packing lunch, no girl drama, no needing to buy individually wrapped anything, no waiting at the bus stop, and no rushing to doctor’s appointments. It was just – easier. We still put our kids in outdoor activities and sports (my daughter’s softball team made it to the championship!) and saw friends regularly – so there was running around, but it felt much more on our terms. It was a reprieve from our normal life.

A 2nd grader enjoying remote learning outside.

Also Some Screaming & Crying

Of course, this year was also filled with a LOT of screaming, crying (mostly both me…), and threats of military school. But overall, we made it. We had a chance to enjoy a bizzarro time warp alternate universe warp zone and I – for one – am very grateful. I love my kids. I like my kids. I am desperately trying to raise them to be people who I want to spend time with (not just because I legally must) every day.

A 5th grade girl at her remote violin concert.

While Different For Each Kid, They Survived A Year Of Remote Learning!

It’s funny how different personalities come out in your kids. I think how they are raised with so many constants – same genes, same dinner conversation, same toilet paper, but they are different people, so they are – different.

A 5th grader doing remote learning in her room.

My daughter – an amazing student and social butterfly – continued to be an amazing student – and social butterfly. Her academic transition was seamless but being home was hard for her. Each time she asked to go back we weighed the pros and cons and ultimately let her choose. We marveled at how involved with the school she still was and loosen as many rules as possible to make her year better. She ended her year still a straight A student, the remote 5th grade student council representative, and a kid with the most wonderful, caring, sweet, funny friends. She is counting down the days until she can step foot in the building in September.

A 2nd grade boy doing remote learning in his room.

My son is a different kid. He is smart as a whip, inquisitive, curious, calculating, but is not into school as much as his older sister. He is a social caterpillar – happy with his little group of friends – and not needing to push the envelope on anything. This year was a dream for him. He asked if he could stay remote through college. Play with toys at lunch? Sign him up. Ride his bike at recess? Best news ever. He was so happy being home – he could do school outside, and he even launched Evan’s Daily Lego Challenge. He ended the year academically fine, has great friends, a new travel baseball team, and an insatiable passion for reading.

A remote Pre-K boy doing his workbook.

Momtessori

My little one – oh Benjamin. As the third kid I did not feel pressure for him to be fluent in Mandarin by the time he could speak. He is my little lap dog. We worked on our leftover workbooks from the last decade, hung up educational posters hiding in the closet, and learned “the 3 R’s”. I was told my laissez faire attitude was his “curriculum”. He caught on quicky. Some days I found him at the table doing it on his own. But really – we focused on playing, games, gardening, finding worms, going to parks, feeding animals, taking walks, having philosophical discussions, and visiting zoos. Perhaps this curriculum could be described as my very own “Momtessori”. At his kindergarten orientation someone asked what was expected of these kids at the gate – they said nothing at all. Whoops. So, I guess he’s fine.

3 kids celebrating the last day of school in 2020
Last day of school in 2020

I’m Grateful For My Support System

This was a funny year – stuff came out about people. People showed their true colors. It was a time where you rethought everything you did and everyone you saw. That was a big deal. I am so grateful for the strong amazing group of friends I have whose bonds got even stronger. We were all in the trenches together this year (no matter where our kids sat for school) and that only made our friendships stronger.

3 kids enjoying their last day of school in 2019
Last day of school in 2019

…And We’re Done.

I cannot believe today is the last day of school. I don’t understand how an entire year flew by. I also don’t understand how it’s not still March of 2020 – yet somehow, here we are. We survived a year of remote learning! Last week my son asked if we could still do our “annual last day tradition” (hanging up a banner and greeting them with smoothies & fancy drink umbrellas). I was so touched by this. His validation of the nice memories I’m trying to create meant so much. I often think how this is their childhood, so when one looks back at childhood memories – they will look back at NOW. We’re making those childhood memories NOW. That is good Mommy payback plain and simple.

3 kids enjoying their last day of school in 2018
Last day of school in 2018

They Are Growing Up Too Quickly

I get sad thinking how quickly my kids are growing up. My littlest one just turned five. FIVE! He is going into Kindergarten in the Fall! I don’t know how that happened. My older daughter is eleven (didn’t she just turn five?). Who gave her permission to do that? My middle one is – wait. How old is he? He’s here somewhere… Poor middle kid…

3 kids enjoying their last day of school in 2017
Last day of school in 2017

So as the day begins – the last day of Pre-K, 2nd Grade, and 5th Grade – I see a (gloomy) day for which I don’t know where it’s going, but I’m hoping for the best. Much like the beginning of the year – we have tons of fun plans ahead of us, but with something completely out of our control in charge. Luckily today it’s only the weather. So I will once again hope for the best and be proud of my resilient kids for just being kids and being happy little people who see the best in everything.

A Kindergarten girl enjoying her last day of school in 2017
Last day of school in 2016

We DID IT!!!! It’s Official – We Survived A Year Of Remote Learning!

…and that’s a wrap, people. School year 2020-2021 is in the books!!! Smoothies & banner tradition – check! Phew.. We’re heading to the pool.

Three kids sitting on top of the swingset on the last day of school June, 2021.
Last day of school in 2021

Published by Stacey Wallenstein

Stacey Gish Wallenstein created The Mint Chip Mama blog in 2013 to share her love and passion for giving children meaningful life experiences and helping moms like her navigate the challenges and benefits of raising children in the New York metropolitan area. Before becoming a full-time mom in 2010, Stacey spent the better part of the preceding decade as a high-end customer relationship management (CRM) professional for some of the most well-known brands in the hotel, luxury, fashion, and beauty industries, such as Harrah’s Entertainment, Chanel and Christian Dior, Inc. She managed customer loyalty programs for thousands of clients around the country and created social media strategies for a span of industries including healthcare services, restaurants, consumer packaged goods, specialty foods, local attractions and retail locations. After 13 wonderful years in Manhattan (the last three of which spent as a city mom), Stacey and her husband moved to Long Island in 2014, where they now reside with their three children (11, 8, and 5). There, she is a founding member of her local Parenting Center, which provides classes and coordinates events designed to educate and inform parents while fostering an environment of support and friendship within the community. Stacey is also an active PTA member ((including a former & current PTA president) as well as a Girl Scout troop leader. Her musings on motherhood, Manhattan, the suburbs, and more can be found here and on Facebook at The Mint Chip Mama. A graduate of the University of Michigan, Stacey has been active in the New York area alumni organization for nearly twenty years, serving as a board member on the school’s University of Michigan Alumni Club of New York City. She also holds a Masters in Psychology from The New School in New York City. For more updates, follow her on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Pinterest.

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