Geddy started first grade today, and it was both strangely familiar to my first day of school in the 80s and wildly different at the same time. Let me elaborate.
When Geddy entered kindergarten, it was a whole new world for all of us. Kindergarten for me had been learning at home from my parents and sister, without a formal curriculum but with lots of books. We had computers, don't think that we didn't, and I remember playing memory games on the Texas Instruments. But I wasn't really "going to school" that year. I spent a lot of time watching old shows on our tiny black and white TV and running errands with my mom. For Luke, he attended a part-time kindergarten taught by his grandmother. There were a few other students included, but even though it was a little more school-like than my experience, it still wasn't formal. Geddy going to kindergarten meant a big public school with a non-relative for a teacher and multiple "specials" classes taught by more adults he'd never met before. It was every day, with bells ringing, lines for entering and leaving the school, and announcements over the intercom. The sort of business I had only witnessed on TV or read about in books when I was a kid.
This year was supposed to be the same, only he would spend all day at school, and even ride the bus once a week! I bought him a lunch box and wondered if he needed a new backpack. I wondered how he would do away from home for so long. I wondered how I would do. I guess I'll keep wondering.
Today, we started school at home, in the basement, in the former guestroom that we converted into a classroom.
In many ways it felt like "playing school" when I was little. We had all his supplies ready, just in case. A notebook, pencils, crayons, glue sticks. We stared at the map of the United States we had tacked to the wall. The globe on the little table sat ready to be spun, though it doesn't light up like mine from my childhood. During the day he read to me and I read to him. We had recess in the backyard, shooting hoops. He even did some learning activities on his computer. Of course we connected to the internet instead of clicking a cartridge into a slot above the keyboard. The only parts missing were watching black and white TV and going to the store.
Oh, but did I mention he and 25 other students signed into their computers to meet their teacher in a virtual environment? No bells, no lines, no cafeteria, no playground hijinks. No need to pack a lunch or a backpack. No fear of heading out the door too late. Instead of putting on shoes he put on a headset. And if any student talked out of turn, all the teacher had to do was press the mute button. Online school is not new, but it is not what we planned.
Though strange, it's kind of cool to look around our little one-room schoolhouse and realize that I get some more time with my son at home. I'm excited, too, that I can be present in his classroom every day (sorry, teacher!) and know what he's being taught. Some might wonder why I don't just homeschool Geddy, but we want to keep him connected to our local district so that he can more easily transition back when it is safe to do so. He's a social guy that needs other kids and grownups to interact with and learn from. For now, school at home is homeschool, just with an extra grownup. The only drawback to this semester is that no matter how much snow we get, there will be no snow day.