The experiment begins

Today is Day 1 of what the Ontario government is calling Learn at home.

I spent a good chunk of yesterday prepping for how we’ll move forward over the coming weeks with this new reality.

I started by jotting down my expectations. I want my kids to learn, to be engaged and to feel good about themselves.

The way they won’t accomplish these things is clear: lots of screen time.

The ways they will accomplish these things is more work on everyone’s part, but more rewarding overall: being creative, learning something new (anything, I’m not just talking academics here), practicing being a better human (kindness, helpfulness, creating beauty [or just creating for the sake of it]).

At dinner, we all talked about what the coming weeks might look like. I explained to my kids that things are in flux and we’re going to take it day by day. There are no hard rules on how we have to do things every day. Some days, I’ll be really busy with work and I won’t have as much time for them. Other days, I’ll be able to take some time off and do things with them rather than just guiding them to do it on their own. The point is, we have to work together.

Because my kids are used to the school schedule, they both immediately jumped to the question of when is recess. This highlighted to me that what I’m working with is programmed kids. And I would love to get them away from that kind of thinking and toward more holistic thinking. I think for me that’s it. It’s not about a schedule:

8:00 am: get up, make bed, have breakfast

9:00 am: do math worksheets

10:00 am: write in journal

10:30 am: snack break and play in the backyard

11:00 am: read

12:00 pm: lunch


I don’t want our days to look like that. There’s no opportunity for deep learning or engagement there.

This is my idea for our days:

Sometime early morning: get up, make bed, make breakfast and eat together, then clean up breakfast dishes and bake something to have later

Mid-morning: clean up baking and pull out some math problems or games

Lunch time: make lunch and eat together, then clean up

Mid-afternoon: go for a walk by the river, discover what nature has to reveal

Late afternoon: write about the river walk, read a book, play a game

And this would be in flux. The next day, there might be a craft or art or engineering project that captures the attention and takes hours to work through. The point is deep engagement, being in the zone, finding flow.

When asked for their input on screen time, my daughter thought that one hour at lunch with her phone would be good to keep in touch with her friends. (Personally, I thought it was a little restrictive to just have one hour a day to talk to friends that she would normally see all day. I worry about how this online-only communication is going to change how we all interact. But I’m going to try not to worry, because the results may surprise me.)

And that’s where I’m at as I sit on the cusp of Day 1. To help my kids get used to this new routine, I’m going to stick closer to the school routine, and they’ll start Day 1 with breakfast and then worksheets that they received from their teachers on their last day in class. I have other resources and things for them that I curated yesterday during my prep time (and alone time in the house, which rarely happens anymore since I’m working from home and my kids are off school). I’ll pull those out as needed, but right now, it’s day by day, one day at a time, and all other related idioms.

How are you faring? What are your plans for the coming weeks?

1 thought on “The experiment begins

  1. Pingback: Experiment updates | Life Takes Over

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