By Deborah Wood, Ph.D.
The omicron variant of Covid-19 continues to spread infections and uncertainties around the world. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is hard at work, gathering information about this fourth wave of the pandemic. Other countries, including India and Mexico, have closed schools to try to prevent infections. The prediction for our area, based on the pattern from South Africa and elsewhere, is for a short period of rapid contagion followed by a dropping off of new cases.
Meanwhile, having gotten their second inoculations, our second grade and fifth grade grandchildren are being re-enrolled in “school” school after several months of homeschooling. The plan is for them to be in classrooms at the end of January for the start of the third marking period.
Time to Reflect
Granddaddy, otherwise known as my husband, and I are on a winter’s escape to Florida. The above photograph is from the beach at Amelia Island State Park. The children’s remaining home-schooling weeks are in the capable hands of Grammy.
Just before leaving, I had the task of compiling portfolios for each student. This was a chance to reminisce about the past four months’ experience as I packed a digital file with reading lists, examples of math computations, and the students’ drawings and other artwork. I also included photos and wrote summaries about science activities, violin lessons, puppetry and dramatic performances, visits to museums and historic sites, and a couple of nature highlights from hikes and camping trips. As a first foray into the world of homeschooling, we (literally) covered a lot of ground. The children had many first-hand experiences not possible in a classroom.
A reviewer from their county’s school system will determine whether we have fulfilled the obligation of providing learning opportunities in the eight subject areas – Language Arts, Mathematics, Science, Social Studies, Health, Physical Education, Art, and Music. Of course, the evaluation of the portfolio, due back to us by January 30, is a pointless exercise if the children do indeed quit homeschooling for the remainder of the school year.
The Star Thrower
This homeschooling experience has been far from pointless though, in my humble opinion. Anyone who has been part of in-person schooling these past several months can attest to the high level of stress for staff, students, and parents. These two students, their parents, and us happily involved grandparents were spared the anxiety of drooping facemasks on children, class quarantines, sick teachers, missing bus drivers, etc., etc., etc. I wish there were simple solutions to educating masses of students, while keeping life safe and consistent during a worldwide health crisis. I wish there were an ocean of wonderful learning experiences into which they could all be thrown. But there isn’t.
You may be familiar with story of The Star Thrower by Loren Corey Eiseley (1907-1977). Trained as an anthropologist and paleontologist, Eiseley used his observations of nature to pose questions about human nature, much like his admired predecessor, Henry David Thoreau.
The abridged version goes like this: The author encounters a young man on the beach who is engrossed in the process of finding beached starfish and flinging them back into the ocean. Due to a recent storm, there are many, many starfish in danger of drying out and dying on the sand. The author asks, “What’s the point of your efforts? You can’t possibly make a difference.” The star thrower replies as he holds up yet another starfish and carries on with his task, “I’m making a difference for this one.”
We made a difference for two.
Chesapeake Children’s Museum invites homeschooling families, with children ages 5-12 to a monthly get together, the third Thursday of each month, at 10:30 am.
Read more of Dr. Wood’s Good Parenting columns by clicking here.