Oliver continues to love his time at Dodge. The weather has been variable over the past month, with both snow and mud. The pictures below are a small sample of Oliver’s many adventures.
As mentioned in prior posts, Oliver was in preschool this year for a few months at the beginning of the year. Now he is back at an outdoor preschool for three mornings a week.
Griffin and Maggie, however, have been in full distance-learning since last March. They’re used to it now, but it has been a major blow. A normal day in their Montessori school would involve 6-7 hours of constant interaction. Working with classmates, moving around the classroom, attending mini-lessons from the teacher, playing at recess, lunch, the school bus, etc.
Now they’ve got Zoom meetings, independent work, and an occasional minecraft game with their friends. I’m not knocking the school; they’re doing a great job. But the social gulf between this year and last is enormous.
It is with joy, therefore, that we dove into a program at their school where individual classes come to campus once-a-week for a few hours of all-outdoor social time. Maggie had her first day yesterday and Griffin went in this morning. (We only have a picture of Griffin at this point.) Hopefully this is the first step on the long road to normalcy.
After Oliver’s brush with COVID in November, we kept him home through December and January. As he was starting to go a bit stir crazy, we were lucky to secure an opening at Dodge Nature Center‘s outdoor preschool program. Both Griffin and Maggie had wonderful experiences at Dodge before they started kindergarten.
Starting at the beginning of February, Oliver has attended Dodge on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday mornings. He’s had a great time so far. See a few pictures below. Oliver wears a bright pink hat.
Sarah: “Oliver, I’m just a bit sleepy. I want to lay on the couch for a few minutes, ok? Can you build quietly for a few minutes?”
Oliver: “UGH. ACK. RAWR. UGH.”
S: “Not exactly what I had in mind, honey.”
O: “But I want to make a leaning tower of PIZZA. It’s not WORKING.”
These two are on each other’s nerves constantly. Constantly. So times like these that they have patience for each other, and clearly are delighting in each other, are pretty amazing. Oliver is very excited for his birthday in eight days, so Maggie is helping him make a paper chain to count down the days. Pretty amazing.
Our COVID Halloween wasn’t as bad as we might have expected. Indeed, at one point today, the kids exclaimed, “This is the best Halloween ever!” A few weeks ago we reluctantly told the kids that we weren’t comfortable going trick-or-treating this year. But, since Halloween was on a Saturday, we could spend the whole day doing Halloween activities. To our surprised delight, the kids were like, “Yeah! Let’s plan a schedule!” And they did. Starting with pumpkin pancakes in the morning. Then making piñatas, hanging lights in the yard, making rice crispy treat monsters, building a fire in the backyard, having our bubble-friends over, eating dinner, smashing piñatas, and finally watching the Over the Garden Wall animated series in the backyard curled up in blankets around the fire.
It might have been my favorite Halloween too…
Piper is finally tolerating my grooming of her! We went to the woods and she was covered in burrs. It was necessary, so she got a peanut butter bone and I got to work. I think she finally realized that it actually feels kind of good. 😊
Some schools have been going for a while. Others are delaying even longer. My school began with orientations this week for each grade level. In the middle school, we had each grade on a different day, spread out throughout the building in the largest classrooms. Students were grouped in their advisories and stayed together all day aside from an outdoor, socially distanced recess. Most advisory groups had one or more students who remained off-site—for medical or other reasons—and connected to the classroom virtually. I had three such students in my group of eleven, so I shared the room with eight physical students.
Orientation ran from 8:30 to noon. The time passed pretty quickly, though the adults were certainly worn out by the end of it. My own mask became incredibly irritating after the first few hours. It would have been smarter for me to try wearing a mask for four hours at home to really learn what type is most comfortable for me. As it is, I’ve rarely worn a mask for more than 30 minutes at a stretch (usually while shopping).
In the pictures below, you can see the fairly insane tech setup that we had running in my room. (It’s not actually my normal classroom, and none of us have been in during the summer, so things are pretty messy.) I had two computers and three screens running simultaneously. The laptop in the middle had the camera and microphone for the Google Meet with my virtual advisees. The laptop was also connected to the huge smartboard where I could display slides or videos. I had that Chrome tab shared in Google Meet with the remote kids. The third monitor, on the right, is attached to a separate computer that was also connected to my Meet so that the virtual participants were visible on a larger screen for the rest of the in-person class. My in-person kids were spread out with at least six-feet between each desk, so some of them were quite far away from the monitor.
We spent the day getting to know each other, discussing our summers, and laying the groundwork for the coming year. Regular classes begin next week. They will be fully distanced (remote teaching) for at least the first three weeks. Then the school will decide, based on infection numbers in the Twin Cities, whether to move to fully in-person teaching or some sort of hybrid model. It was great having this time to get to know some of our students before beginning classes next week. Just having them in the building (even virtually) made it feel more like school was really starting.
I have no idea how things will play out in the coming weeks, but I’m glad that we’re finally diving in. While there were many wonderful things about this summer, the hours of planning, worrying, scrapping plans, and worrying more was not my favorite thing.
Below is a copy of the introductory video that I shared with my advisees. It features some pictures of our new dog, Piper, and a few screenshots from my summer role-playing games.