So … How Are You Doing at School?

I took my son to the doctor yesterday. It was a visit to a new doctor, a specialist we had never seen before, and the nurse stopped and looked me straight in the eyes. “So,” she said. “How are you doing in school?”

It wasn’t the usual chatter in the doctor’s office, “Oh, what grade is he in?” or “What’s your favorite subject, buddy?” It was a sincere question asked – if I had to guess – from parent to parent. How is school? How do you do this? How do any of us do this?

Yesterday my friend mom told me that she had briefly thought about what to say to hell with it all, and to cancel school for her second-graders. Her oldest son, a fifth-grader, is doing well, but the youngest? Yes, not so much.

“He struggles at all levels, and the remote school seems completely inappropriate for him,” she told me. But when personal tutoring is not an option (because of the pandemic) and homeschooling is not an option (because of work), what is left other than watching him struggle day in and day out or ending formal education altogether?

“[In the spring] I told both boys to just get their attendance points and I didn’t care what happened next,” the mom said. “But going to hell is not sustainable, and I don’t know what else can be done if we cannot make the remote school work.”

I’ve spent months trying to find a way out of this particularly nasty mental room escape, but if there is a key, I haven’t found it yet – for myself or anyone else. If that doesn’t work, what else?

As I write this, my son’s fourth grade teacher is sending us a message with another new tactic we should try: a paper assignment checklist to help students keep track of what to do each day. My son works on a hybrid schedule: at home three days a week and two days at school (and half of his classmates have the opposite schedule). We already have three weeks before the start of the semester, and we are still trying to figure out something as simple as “when should I do something?”

Yesterday I didn’t have a good answer for that nurse – at least what I could give for my child – but it was nice to be asked. It was nice to remind you that this is not normal, even if it seems that life continues around us, as if it is as if we have to adapt to the present time.

So tell us in the comments: How are you doing at school? How’s distant school or hybrid school or home schooling, or even abandonment of school?

What works and what doesn’t?

What would you like to do differently?

If that doesn’t work, what else?

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