Schools

Parents in Fairfield County struggle with their own work schedules while children adapt to learning at home.
Parents in Fairfield County struggle with their own work schedules while children adapt to learning at home. Photo Credit: Pixabay

Remote Schooling Through April 20 Or Longer? Parents (And Kids) Are Adapting

For many children, including those of Sarah O'Brien Moles, a working mother from Milford, the initial excitement at home-schooling quickly melted into sadness. 

"My daughter who's in the second grade loves school, and she was really sad when the school closed. Both my kids love their teachers and I'm bummed that time was taken away from them," said Moles, whose younger child, a boy, is in kindergarten.

With a week and a half of managing their kids' at-home learning under their belts, parents like Moles talk of originally feeling frustrated but have still managed to adapt and adjust.

Moles normally spends her own days conducting business for her two jobs as a part-time consultant and job coach but now has to do her own work in the evenings when her husband, a financial advisor comes home from his.

"I take some calls and have meetings mixed in when they're working on assignments," said Moles. 

Most of her day, however, is now spent supervising the children, a seven-year-old second-grader and a five-year-old kindergartener whose remote school schedule is generally 8:45 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. — with lunch and walks built into the timeframe. 

"I definitely have a lot of respect for teachers," Moles told Daily Voice Plus.

In the beginning, Moles admitted they didn't have a schedule; the kids worked on assignments from their teachers with their mom managing the tasks. Now, it's helpful, Moles related, to have a schedule typed out, printed and posted on a board for the children to reference.

"It helps them to know that the expectations are. They feel they have more control over their day and know what to expect," she noted. "They are getting better and better."

Strategies to motivate her children include a reward system like they have in their classrooms. Moles got ideas from the internet and on Pinterest. One of these involves putting marbles into a jar based on how well they complete assignments. Outstanding work would allow several marbles and the children can exchange marbles for "coupons" for privileges like extra iPad time or choosing a favorite dessert.

One of the frustrations for parents has been the struggle to understand how to teach subjects they learned in a completely different way. On Fairfield County Parents group on Facebook, Betsy Haughey Pulick said her nine-year-old's math "gives me a headache." 

Cindie Lishawa told Daily Voice Plus how remote schooling was going in her household. The first day was less than stellar.

 "It was a mess for the first hour with [my] saying, 'What the heck does this mean?' and my kids yelling, 'I don't know!'" Lishawa laughed. "Finally, we all calmed down and sort of figured it out. But now I am exhausted and I respect teachers even more than I already did — for what they have to deal with every day."

While parents are giving deserved kudos to teachers, educators are recognizing parents, too.

"We know that you have been the support and motivator of your child’s education. We applaud your unwavering commitment by ensuring that your child completes assignments. Thank you! It truly takes a village to raise a child!" said Sibyl Dawn Brooks, principal of Toquam Magnet Elementary School in Stamford in a Wednesday, March 25 email to parents.

Messages like these have been sent out and posted on websites all over the state, which now has extended school closures to April 20 in accordance with Gov. Ned Lamont's executive order that went into effect at 8 p.m. on Monday, March. 23. And parents, they'll adapt.