Nicola Alpe is a Kiwi living in Los Angeles navigating Americans, motherhood and bad traffic.
I'm not one to shy away from controversy, and what I say next is going to raise the ire of some: I love home schooling my child. I love it so much I lamented that I've never reached my potential and perhaps I should have been a teacher. Anyone who knows me will laugh. I would be the last person to survive a round of staffroom politics. Not that I myself wouldn't survive. My employment contract wouldn't survive.
Since March 16, LA schools have been closed and we have all been thrust into a new role, that of educators. With no foreseeable end in sight to the restrictions placed upon Californians we are hoping to start school in person in September. Yes, September. School's definitely out for our American summer.
The last few weeks in New Zealand have been difficult for parents but spare a thought for my friends at home in the US right now. Children of all ages will be home for nearly six months. Arizona is already over 35 degrees. They are staring down the air-conditioned barrel of nearly six months indoors with their children, day in day out. Summer camps - day and sleep away - the best ever invention for parents, will be cancelled, bringing about more uncertainty for parents and children.
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But being involved like this in our daughter's education has been a thrill - way more insightful than any parent teacher conference. Via Zoom we see her engagement and we watch proudly as she waits her turn with her quiet hand. We are amazed at what our 4-year-old has learned and although already grateful to be in our school community, we are even more in awe of her teachers, principal and staff.
Her hour-long call is followed shortly after by a 30-minute extracurricular activity; karate, music, art, Spanish and PE. Our teachers send the schedule daily and activities all relate back to their superhero curriculum, letter and number recognition, and writing. Thank goodness we stocked up on toilet paper as the amount of toilet rolls we have gone through crafting has been significant. That part of the curriculum would never have held up in Australia.
Preschool in California is a different beast to anything I could have imagined. It took a year of work to get in; we toured nine schools, applied to six and were accepted to one. Those woeful stats are on par with our third round of IVF, but as with our girl, we got the very best result. In hindsight, with expectations far too high we excitedly tuned into the morning educational programming on TV2+1. We quickly switched back to Nick Jnr and made a note to email our teachers telling them what an amazing job they are doing supporting us and the children.
In this Covid-19 situation, we quasi-educators are in this together. I think of my friend assisting her 6-year-old to dissect an owl pellet, a regurgitated lump of what said owl had recently ingested. Fancy receiving that in the post! Teachers see me every morning in my bathrobe, glasses on and with extreme bed hair. Good thing they have months to get over those images. My friend in Australia not only has to teach Indonesian to her 6-year old but when trying to explain triangular prisms he was resting his head on his book with his eyes shut. She wanted to do the same.
Our kids will be okay. They won't forget everything they know. There will be more discos, Spring sings and graduations. If nothing else this will remind us of how patient, organised, creative, smart, passionate and downright incredible our educators are.
Teachers, thank you.