Parenthood
November 19, 2020
Virtual School: Week 11

It was International Children's day this week, so both Matthew and Amelia's class had special days on Thursday. Matthew had a pj week and movie in the afternoon, while Amelia had a special party. All the kids had to decorate and come up with ideas for making the day special, like getting dressed up, making paper flowers and "serpentines". Michael was invited to participate as well.

 

It was a short week (PD day on Friday), coupled with party on Thursday, so I didn't really do much in the way of learning stations. Still, we had books, costumes for dressup, paint, and the giant house with kitchen stuff from a few weeks ago also was still getting a lot of play.

 

Amelia's class was learning about human rights all week. She is skeptical and a little disbelieving that children don't have a "right" to a car, but accurately identified education, play, food, water and shelter as basic rights.

 

It was colder this week but that did not stop Amelia from continuing to practice her new biking skills or Michael from scootering. There was also a ton of special stories at the library because it was storyteller's week, so Michael and Amelia (and sometimes Matthew) joined in for a special online story in both English and French every day.

 

One of the best parts of virtual school is the informal learning that takes place between siblings, such as Matthew reading books to his siblings (and trying to teach them how to read themselves!) or Elizabeth helping Matthew with his work (so that he can hurry up and log off to play with her!).

 

Matthew continues to have ample spare time, so the big news this week is that we agreed for him to start doing forest school with another family! They will spend two half days together outdoors and masked in Richlieu forest in Vanier. An excellent teacher is facilitating their learning. Our goal is mainly to have Matthew speak and hear a great deal more French than seems possible in school. We were very happy to find this opportunity to connect with another family and teacher who are both being extremely covid-wise. The teacher lives with someone vulnerable so asked to know how we are living. We are pretty careful and it's great to find a situation that isn't more risk than we want to take on.

 

Elizabeth had a special meet with kids from multiple virtual classes and one in person class in Montreal this week as a follow-up to the special galaxy nature art project they've been doing. Usually they need to leave the camera off when there are so many kids in the meet, but Elizabeth was one of four students in her class chosen to present. She was quite enthused that she got to keep it on. She continues to make a meal once a week and was happy to go to karate once again in person for her bo class. She's supposed to be doing her reading in "unusual" places and positions this month.

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November 15, 2020
Distanced cousins

We met up with Karen, Xander, Isabelle, Theo, Yukiko, Erika and Maria in Commissioner's park to take one last distanced calendar photo and exchange some secrets for upcoming holidays. It was windy, cold and rainy but that didn't stop some of us from staying on for a few more minutes to play distanced games like umbrella soccer and frisbee.

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November 14, 2020
Dinner and a fire

We had Grandma Margaret over for supper and a fire.

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November 11, 2020
Christmas cake

It was Remembrance day, so we ditched school and headed over to Grandma's to make some Christmas cake, as per tradition.

 

Matthew and Elizabeth did almost all the chopping this year.

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November 6, 2020
Remember Remember

We were all psyched up for Guy Fawkes (and the official start of fireplace season in our house) on November 5th, but by the time we were organized enough for a fire the younger two were already ready for bed.

 

I might have delayed bedtime, except that it was very warm outside. When the outside temperature is above zero, we often get smoke sucked back down the other chimney into the red room. Since Matthew is using the red room as his schoolroom these days, we decided that it would be prudent to delay until Friday evening for our fire.

 

We had a great time sitting in front of the fire. Matthew is thinking that one of these years we should have a real bonfire.

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Virtual School: Week 9

First big snowfall this week. Our morning walk took MUCH longer than usual because they would keep flopping down to make snow angels. Amelia and Matthew were having too much fun to go in for school. So Amelia did her class outside and I let Matthew skip the first period. Amusingly many of the kids this week have discovered the new Google Meet backgrounds so based on a couple of comments I do not think the teachers realized that Amelia was actually outside.

 

Instead of school Matthew did his reading with me and played. When we came in, he hadn't obviously missed anything and he caught up with his asynchronous work before the next segment started. This is a bit of a theme. The amount of time where nothing substantive happens is mind boggling. Teacher will routinely spend 30 minutes finding stuff and checking if things are submitted and and responding to student questions etc etc So Matthew tends to check out mentally and do his work; might as well get useful stuff done. Then the talking is distracting so he turns the sound off. Then he gets stuck so he fetches me. I teach the lesson in 5 min. He finishes in another 5. Then teacher teaches lesson but he just did it so he turns off camera and does something else. This of course completely defeats the purpose of not homeschooling since he is then not listening to or speaking french. His teacher has started doing small group reading with two or three kids at a time, but even though his class is under twenty, it still takes more than a week to rotate through.

If I were not reading with him, he would be reading less than 30 minutes a week. Most of the work is done onscreen, and the one daily writing assignment is not assessed so Matthew frequently hasn't been doing it. Math is also a problem. Matthew's frustrated because they appear to be doing constant review. He's clearly ahead of the rest of the class but he's completed the assigned extra work. So we are doing our own thing about 90% of the time after doing the busy work.

 

But as soon as I think ok, this is dumb I should pull him out altogether, we have a day where teacher is actually teaching something useful and he even thinks about participating. For example - this week in Science the kids got to present their pets. Matthew presented Gabriel the turtle and had a wonderful time explaining what turtles are like. He also enjoys art class very much. In any case, there's a conversation with his teachers that is needed.

 

Other than our "outdoor classroom", kindergarten this week really only had three stations - a very large house out of fort magic complete with mini kitchen, bedrooms and (lego for food?), reading nook, and "the museum". The plan for the week talked about going to museums and traveling so we created our own museum and all week Amelia and Michael brought precious things to be admired on our table. Amelia also spent much time using the glitter glue the switch witch brought. Michael has taken to making and playing in little nests in his bed during Amelia's "rendez-vous". Unlike grade 2, I'd say virtual kindergarten continues to go well.

 

Grade 6 is doing some kind of space theme in science. Elizabeth was disappointed that most of the snow melted before she could do her private (outdoor) bo class with Cody, but there were still some tiny patches. She says school is "fine".

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