I just realized my very last post was of Ella graduating Pre-K. Oops, my bad. These unintentional breaks from anything blog-related (including social media) seems to be happening a lot since this whole pandemic started. I wanna say that I've just been livin' my best life and enjoying every second with my girls but let's be real... I've just been straight up too LAZY to write anything.
Anyway... Summer came and went. And we've already completed our first full week of Kindergarten but guess what... Ella and I are totally ROCKIN' this whole Distance Learning thing. It's SO much more organized this time around and even though the lectures are virtual, there's still a good amount of interaction between the teacher and students and these kids seem to be very engaged in this process. It's A LOT of work for us (the parents) but it's so worth it when I see how much Ella has learned in just a week and a half, and I'm very excited to see what she and I will accomplish together this school year.
Why Did We Choose Distance Learning?
To be quite honest, I just felt it would be safer for everyone involved in our lives if we opted to learn from home. Safer for the teachers + staff, safer for the other students, and safer for my family. It's obviously not how I imagined Kindergarten would be for Ella, but with our COVID cases continuing to rise and the amount of people who are against wearing masks to protect others, it was a no-brainer decision for us. Our decision is based on the Science and data about this virus and the simple fact that we still know very little about the long-term effects it could have on our bodies if we were to catch it. I don't want my girls to get sick with this virus, knowing there's no real treatment for it yet. And while I do understand that most kids may not get very sick or experience any symptoms, I would still feel horrible if my girls did.
So distance learning was the way to go. For us. And we committed to doing this for the entire school year. And even though I feel bad that Ella won't get to have the same Kindergarten experience I did as a kid, I am determined to make this school year a GREAT one for her.
Ella's 1st Day of Kindergarten
Monday, August 10th, my little girl officially started Kindergarten. At a brand new school. With brand new classmates. Fully immersed in Spanish.
Did I mention that she's enrolled in a dual language immersion program? Call us crazy for taking this on, but what kids benefit from learning more than 1 language in the early years of education is an opportunity we just couldn't pass up. So here we are. Where 90% of her class is taught in Spanish, 10% in English. I haven't practiced my Spanish speaking skills since I was in college, so I'm excited to be re-learning things, too 😂.
Full transparency - I did feel a little sad that we didn't get to walk her to her classroom and help get her settled in. But I realized that I shouldn't dwell on all that because then I'd be taking away from this experience. Distance Learning Kindergarten doesn't have to be sad. It is what we make it to be. And we plan for it to be ah-maze-ing!
What About Everly?
She's a bit of a firecracker and has been wanting to do EVERYTHING Big Sis does, so we're doin' a lil bit of preschool stuff with her too. She calls me Miss Mommy and gets excited to practice writing, loves to draw, paint & color... and she LIVES for all the songs and books Ella's teacher assigns for us to view. She's already picked up on A LOT of Spanish words, so I think this exposure will help her when it's time for her to start Kindergarten.
Our Homeschool Classroom Setup & Essentials
Since we live with Daniel's dad and his 2 teenage sisters, space is very limited (as you can imagine) and we don't have extra bedrooms for me to convert into a mini-classroom. Which is a bummer because I have all these cute ideas I wanna do once we finally buy a house! Okay I digress. Since I want this to be a positive and memorable experience for Ella, I wanted to create a space that she could work in and feel like she was doin' school things. So our homeschool "classroom" is set up in our bedroom. It includes a work table that both she and Everly can sit at and a 3-tier utility cart filled with all the things we use daily for school. Oh and some artwork on the wall... I left some space to add their masterpieces once we start doin' some major crafting stuff.
Minimalism at its finest 😆. Daniel works from home and also has his setup in our bedroom too so we kinda have a lot going on here 😂. If things get too crazy, we can always pick up and move out to the living room if we have to.
This cart is THE BEST. I can wheel it out to the living room or outside if we need a change of scenery. We also used this cart for Summer school so it was already stocked with the basic supplies: crayons, glue, scissors, paint, pencils, markers, workbooks, etc. And to maximize space, I used storage containers and some tin cans to organize everything.
The Friday before school started, we picked up a care package that Ella's teacher put together for her. In it were some school supplies as well as some workbooks, worksheets, a couple of textbooks, a pencil case full of math tools & supplies, and a mini iPad. And then this week, her teacher had us pickup a backpack full of more goodies (not pictured) - notebooks, folders, another pencil case full of crayons, pencils, erasers, markers. Ella loved getting all the new goodies and even said it already feels like Christmas 😂.
Also, I just wanted to share a great tool to have that we've been using since last year. These dry erase pocket sheets are awesome. Especially when workin' on their writing skills so you can reuse those workbook sheets. Everly loves to do everything Ella does, so instead of making copies and using up all the ink, I'll just hand her one of these with one of Ella's worksheets. The set I bought came with 12 sleeves and a set of pens. I had to order more pens because some of the original markers have already run out of ink.
Here is a list of what I use for storage:
Please note that this post may contain affiliate links to our favorite products.
3-tier Utility Cart - I am using the SimpleHouseware Heavy Duty cart in white. It comes in many different colors and can also be used for other things (like tools in the garage, kitchen storage, etc.).
Utility Tote Caddy - This Storage Organizer from mDesign is stocked with pencils, markers, dry erase markers, crayons, glue and glue sticks, pretty much what we use everyday. I will usually take this out and leave it on the work table so it is easily accessible and the kids don't have to keep getting up out of their chairs.
Stackable Storage Containers - I have 2 different styles on this cart. Both by mDesign. This small square-is container comes with a lid that's attached and we keep the loose crayons that we've collected over the years in 1 and some arts & craft supplies in the other. Then I also have ones that do not have lids and the bottom one is stocked with little paint bottles, while the top one holds the extra glue & gluesticks, extra crayon sets, flashcards, paintbrushes, and index cards. All of which is stored on the 2nd tier.
Folder/Workbook Bin - I got 2 file folder bins from mDesign to store all of the folders and workbooks. I also keep extra paper in it as well for when Everly has the sudden urge to paint or draw. And these are on the top tier of the cart.
I think I'll do a separate blog post to show exactly WHAT we have in this cart. So if you're interested in that, then lookout for it in the future 😉.
So Far, So Good...
That's the overall consensus right now. Ask me again in another week or 2 and I may change my mind 😂. I don't have any experience with homeschool or anything of the sort, I don't exactly call the end of last school year and Summer school distance learning experience because I was just following the teachers' lead, but this is as close as it gets. I do not intend for this to be a long-term thing, so I am hoping COVID will be over and done with by this time next year. Ella thrives in a real classroom environment with a real teacher and with kids her age so she needs to be back in school. But for now, my goal is to teach my ass off and make this experience incredibly enjoyable for her. And I am going to enjoy not having to wake up super early to get dressed for school drop off 😝. PJ's and athleisurewear is still my jam y'all 😉😂.
Have your kiddos started school yet? What option did you choose? And for all you homeschool mamas out there, what advice or tips do you have for those who are super new to distance learning/homeschooling?
Leave it all in the comments below!
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