public and private schools throughout the state have transitioned to remote learning while schools are closed during the coronavirus pandemic. Pictured is Ms. Gabriel's class at Madison Avenue Elementary. They had a virtual language arts class Monday. Students watched a short film and explained the theme by using evidence to support their answers.
public and private schools throughout the state have transitioned to remote learning while schools are closed during the coronavirus pandemic. Pictured is Ms. Gabriel's class at Madison Avenue Elementary. They had a virtual language arts class Monday. Students watched a short film and explained the theme by using evidence to support their answers.

Emily Custer’s two boys are self-motivated so that’s a big plus as distance learning has become the necessary norm amid the coronavirus pandemic.

 

“I work in the medical field so I am still going to work,” Custer said. “Luckily, they seem pretty self-motivated. I was talking to my freshman the other day, asking him questions and at one point he stopped me and said ‘mom I can do this I already manage at school.’”

 

Custer said that her children, Will, a junior and, John, a freshman at Germantown High School, have been policing themselves. The other day she left for work and the kids were still in bed.

 

“I found out my oldest went and woke the other one up for a lecture. They are looking out for each other,” she said. “They like being able to sleep in and go at their own pace but they are still taking it seriously.”

 

Jill Dale is the mother of Stella Grace, 3, and Avery, 10. Avery is a fourth grader at First Presbyterian Day School in Jackson. They live in Ridgeland. She said her daughter has responded well to the change.

 

“Every kid is different but I have found that giving her a schedule or a goal really helps,” Dale said. “We try to have our work done by two.”

 

Dale said that she has also found comfort in working out problems with a group text of moms she knows from school.

 

“Last week some of us moms really started talking it through and I think we have a handle on it now but that first week we were really thrown into it,” she said. 

 

Jo Neel Vickery has four kids at St. Augustine, Ellie, 12, Josie, 10, Finley Kate, 8, and Hannah, 5. Since St. Augustine is a homeschool and classroom mix, the Vickerys had the infrastructure in place and have had an easier time settling in. 

 

“We were definitely more prepared than most people, I think,” Vickery said. “I have been giving my friends some advice where I can.”

 

She said the biggest difficulty has been setting up the technology for video conferences.

 

“Getting together all the technology has been difficult. At one point I had a kid on the laptop, a kid on the iPad and a kid on my phone but we are making it work,” Vickery said.

 

Though they are used to home learning, she said that the biggest problem has been her kids wanting to see their friends.

 

“Honestly, I think the hardest part has been the social aspect,” Vickery said. “My kids are in school two days a week and my oldest has another half day. They really miss their friends.”

 

Both Custer and Dale echoed that sentiment about missing friends.

 

“The hardest thing is Avery has missed the socializing aspect,” Dale said. “You really realize how important that is in a time like this. They love being with people their own age”

 

She said her daughter really reacted to a Zoom call with her teacher and class.

 

“It changed her entire outlook on the day,” She said.

She said it has also been important to take daily walks and bike rides.

 

One innovation has been extremely curricular activities for her daughter. 

 

“She has been able to take both dance and piano classes online,” Dale said. “It has been a great outlet for her. I don’t think we want to live in a world where we do everything over computer but technology today has really been a blessing in keeping my kids connected.”

 

All said that motivated teachers have been key in keeping their kids on task.

 

“We have only been in the school system three years but we love it,” Custer said. “My sons have some great AP teachers that have set up great home curriculums and resources for my boys.”

 

Overall, the outlook for many parents is positive.

“I think it is encouraging. Kids are smart and resilient. They will learn what they need to,” Vickery said. 

 

“The biggest piece of advice I have been giving is that it is sometimes OK to walk away from the books for a bit and do something else. These are trying times but one thing we will look back and treasure is the family time we are getting to spend together.”