Humans of CLI: Going Back to (Virtual) School

Smiling girl holding school notebook standing in front of blackboard.

Working from home every day this summer made it pretty easy to establish a routine. And staying focused isn’t too hard when you turn on a 10-hour-long video of white noise and your housemate knows not to barge into the room during your weekly department meetings.

But as summer began to crest into autumn and the back-to-school commercials became more frequent during the morning news, it finally dawned on me that our parent team members were in for another round of distance learning.

The last I’d heard about virtual learning was back in June when parents were breathing a sigh of relief that classes were out for a few months. At that time, I couldn’t help but wonder if they’d be ready to tackle a full year come September. Let’s find out.

CLI Parents Discuss Virtual Learning

We checked in with CLI moms Jen and Jeni to get an idea of how parents everywhere have been navigating this new terrain.

What grade is your child (or children) in?

Jen, director of marketing: My son is in 7th grade.

Jeni, client relations: My kids are in 6th and 5th grade.

What are the kids looking forward to this school year?

Jen with a backpack on her shoulder smiling on her first day of high school.
Jen’s first day of high school in the ’90s.

Jen: My son’s first answer was “summer break,” but his second answer was “math” (THANK GOODNESS).

Jeni: They’re excited about meeting new friends, learning new things, and getting to know themselves.

Understanding that distance learning is new to many parents, how has it been going for you?

Jen: For some reason, I thought this term would be easier than the spring term, but it is definitely more work. There are a lot of moving parts, but I think that this is helping the kids to develop adult-level skills with technology and communication that they wouldn’t have otherwise learned yet.

Jeni: Today is my kids’ first day of distant learning. My 5th grader is easy, but my middle schooler will be a bit of a struggle since he has so many teachers and classes. I hope to get organized and be better with this.

What advice would you give to other parents who are working from home and have school-aged kids?

Jen: Organize their schedules for them ahead of time each day and set an alarm to remind them when their classes start. That way they get a notification when class is about to start, as well as the link they need to click to join, and you won’t have to hover or interrupt your own day as much to help.

Jeni: Be patient. You will learn to adapt and they will also. Write out each child’s schedule so that you don’t have to scramble to look for them. Put them on a routine like you would when they were going in to school.

Is there anything you’ve surprisingly enjoyed about distance learning with your child?

Jen: For a middle-school-aged child, I think the “professional level” use of technology and apps and programs is going to be beneficial to him later on. It’s not ideal, but he is learning extra skills that he wouldn’t be if he was in a physical classroom.

Jeni: I can cook for them and also eat lunch with them.

Did you ever want to be a teacher growing up?

Jen: NEVER.

Jeni: No, thanks. 😊

Are teachers superheroes?

Jen: Absolutely. Teachers put an incredible amount of work into teaching our kids in the best of times. Now they are putting in far more work to try to make the connections needed to get their students from point A to point B, without having the benefit of a traditional classroom environment.

I feel like I have always appreciated them, but having to school from home, I REALLY miss them taking my child for 7 hours a day!

Jeni: Yes! They truly are. I wouldn’t have the capabilities of intaking all this knowledge and teaching my kids. They [the kids] are smart because they learn from the teachers. They know things because they learn. Teachers do not get enough credit, and they should.

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