S1: This ad free podcast is part of your Slate plus membership, the following podcast contains explicit language.
S2: Welcome to Mom and dad are fighting Slate’s parenting podcast for Thursday, July 30th, the so you want to be a home schooler, Ed.. I’m Jamilah Lemieux, a writer, cultural critic and mom to Nyima seven, and we reside in Los Angeles, California.
S1: I’m Dan Coates. I’m a writer for Slate and the author of the book How to Be a Family and the dad of Lyra, who’s 15, and Harper, who’s 12. We live in Arlington, Virginia.
S3: I don’t want to be a home schooler. I’m Elizabeth Newcome. I write the Home School and Family Travel Blog. Deadest excuse me. I’m a mom to three. Little Henry eight. Oliver six. Teddy three. And I live in Navarre, Florida, and I am a homeschooler.
S4: Let’s go.
S2: Hi, I’m Dan. I want to be anything but a little bit. And now it’s you. Elizabeth said today on the show we’re going to be discussing learning paths and home schooling for fall of. School is going to be back in session very soon. And there’s a lot of kids who will not be physically returning to the classrooms. Why are people turning to homeschooling? What are the pros and cons for families and the education system? And is homeschooling something that you should be considering for your household? We’ll also have Elizabeth talking homeschool one on one with two other homeschooling parents. Spoiler alert, Dan will not be a part of that conversation. It just hurts the vibe. Where do you even begin? Don’t worry. If you’ve been asking yourself that question, Elizabeth has got you and I ain’t got nothing for you because I don’t even know how to do distance learning. But I wish you all the best.
S5: And Dan and I’s lack of enthusiasm for homeschooling, I don’t think is that a lack of respect for the important work of home schoolers?
S1: It is a reflection of our own come to rise from an incredible amount of respect for them and lack of respect for myself.
S6: I think that’s totally self-knowledge to come into this conversation with because you should not embark on this if you’re absolutely not.
S5: You know, there’s so many things I’m capable of doing and teaching my child from the lack of comfort that is now our home is certainly not one of them. And that is OK and that is OK. And as always, we have triumphs and failures and recommendations. So, Dan, do you have a triumph or fail for us this way? Have you managed to meet the low bar of parenting for which you say almost?
S1: I’m going to pull a Rebecca Levoy here in the spirit of the beloved former mom and dad are fighting house to rest in peace. I’m going to announce my own child’s triumph in lieu of my own. So my triumph this week as a liar, a triumph. The triumph is that this week Lyra finished summer school physical education, which she was taking this summer, and she decided to do that this summer because she could do it remotely. For the first time ever, Arlington schools were offering PE as a remote summer school class, like a self guided summer school class with a teacher sort of overseeing the whole thing. She could avoid the locker room, which I think no high schooler truly enjoys. It would take only six weeks instead of taking a whole school year and filling up a period for that whole school year, that then opens up a whole class she can take at some point during her high school career. That’s more fun than PE. And it was really a triumph because she really committed and did a good job on something that she freely admits. She doesn’t like that much. And for Lyra, that’s a real breakthrough of sorts. I mean, she got out and she got some exercise every single day like she was supposed to. She didn’t cheat in reporting her exercise time, even though she could have because her Fitbit just could never figure out her heart rate correctly. And so her Fitbit thought she was exercising every time she, like, got out of bed and walked three steps along the floor. She did a really good job on a final project that she had to do, like a PowerPoint about tennis, even though she doesn’t give a shit about sports. But she did it all and she didn’t complain. And she was very conscientious and she made it happen because it was important to her. So good job Liara great triumph. Good job me for buying the Fitbit.
S6: I think the real winner here is her demonstration of amazing life skills in like saying there is so much better to take this the summer. Like I’m glad she got her physical education. But people who can do that kind of thing when in life. Oh, yeah, absolutely. No, that is a win for you that you’ve instilled that kind of, you know, like take this opportunity.
S1: Yeah. You see an easy road, honey. You just walk right down that road. She did the work.
S6: I mean, she you know, she took advantage of a loophole.
S5: I think that’s great. Oh, gosh. Like a good shortcut. Shortcuts are not always a bad thing because she didn’t see herself from the experience. Of getting some exercise, you just managed to not have to deal with the musty high school locker room to get it done. Exactly. My friends and I shared multiple gym shirts. There were gym shorts that were circled around my friends circle. I think about that to this day. I’m like, that’s the most disgusting thing. For the most part, we were hygenic kids like we were not that I’m just going to go to school and not have showered. You know, most of the girls wore perfume and body sprays, but like nobody wanted to buy a gym shirt or there was always some. I was like, oh, my God, I forgot my gym shirt. I can’t take an incomplete for the day or whatever. And we’re wearing this must be asked him shirt if he’s got the gym shirt.
S4: Who has got the gym shirt. Elizabeth, how about you?
S3: Well, I just have like a who knows if it’s a triumph or a fail, but it happened to me. Oliver has needed some additional evaluations. He’s in occupational therapy for a bunch of stuff. But the occupational therapist that he needed to be evaluated in speech again and in physical therapy. And so we’ve been like waiting because covid wasn’t really the time to do that. But we’re up against this deadline of, like, cozily move and we have a move looming in the next year. Like, if I don’t get him evaluated here, then, you know, it could be feasibly like a year and a half before we address some of these things. And specifically with the speech, like early intervention is important. And we’ve done speech therapy other places before. So I took him for an evaluation. Of course, everybody’s masked and they’re doing all the right precautions of keeping us in the same room, all this stuff. And Oliver was just like 100 percent Oliver. And I don’t even know what to do as a parent in those situations. Like we went to our physical therapy eval first and she wants him to throw this ball. And so she walks across the room and she says, Oliver, throw this ball. And he just, like, tosses it over his shoulder.
S6: And she’s like, I meant to me. And she goes and gets it. And then she says, OK, Oliver, I’m going to throw the ball. And she throws it at him and he just starts there and he goes, I didn’t know you were throwing it to me. And it’s like, read the room, man, you know? But I’m just like laughing the corner because there’s some of that is like what we’re dealing with and why he needs physical therapy.
S3: So then I think, like, OK, so we go into speech and they sit him in front of this computer and they’re going to like show him these graphics and he’s going to say the words in the first graphic is this house and it’s got a tree in a car. And the woman points at the screen and she says, What is this? And he is totally silent. And then he’s like, well. And it was like, what did you say, owl? And he’s like, no wall. And she’s like, no. I meant like the whole picture. He’s like, Oh, how’s the entire thing? It’s like he can’t understand. He’s supposed to just say the word. She shows him a group of stars and he waits a minute. And then he says there are twenty three stars and then she shows him like, this is not a boy. It’s only supposed to say the word girl. And he’s like a girl riding a bike to the store. Like it seems like he just has no concept of what’s going on. So anyway, we survived, we got referrals to both physical therapy and speech therapy. But just watching your child, you know, it’s like you want him to make the mistakes because that’s why you’re there. But it’s also just like what is happening in his mind. So I endured that with Oliver.
S1: Now we’re closer, I guess, stories of kids just like baffling. Previously on Baffle of all therapists are like my favorite.
S3: I just like what is happening in his mind. I don’t know.
S5: Well, knowing what’s going on in a child’s mind is certainly not my specialty. I do have a triumph for the week, but it comes with a perhaps delightful, maybe not so much to me anecdote that reflects my own inability to understand just what’s going on in that little mind of was at times. So on Friday night, I took her younger brother. I was a five year old brother. I picked them both up from their dad’s house. They were so excited. They were literally like sitting on the stoop, like with their hands and their fists. I’m like, did you guys get put out there? Step mom was like right by the door. Like, No, they’re so excited to go. And so we had like a sleepover, you know, they had their pajamas and her brother brought his Spiderman mask. And I got, you know, too many snacks and they ate me out of house and home for a day or whatever. And then on Saturday, we went to the park and I am a besty from New York, was in town and she got to see her. And it was really nice. We had like a good, you know, especially Dist. Park Day, if you will. But on Friday evening, I went to pick up some food on the way home and I, you know, turned away from my purse for a second. And Nyima hands me a stack of posts I keep in my purse. And she’s like, oh, you know, I just happened to be looking through your purse. Strike one. I just happened, you know, I just happened to be looking through your purse and just the casual way in which she says it’s not like, well, you know, don’t be mad. I was searching through your purse was like, so here I am doing my thing, going through your purse.
S1: Like I was doing my daily look through of your purse, doing my daily review of your your purse.
S5: And I found this notepad. And look, there’s a note on there. And so I’m going to read you the note. It was obviously written by Nyima that she says was not written by Naimah, it says, Hi, I am James, I saw you on Unhinge. You are really pretty, Djamila. Maybe we can go on a date.
S4: Love, James. He sounds great.
S6: First of all, I mean, who doesn’t want to go on a date with the guy you met on the Internet, leaves a note in your purse inside of my purse, deep inside my purse that thank God my daughter was going through her daily purse search because I would have missed it.
S5: And she keeps saying, Mommy, I didn’t write it. I did not write it, Mommy. Like, she’s so insistent that she did not write this note. And I look at her brother and I said, David? And he like, I’m I, I, I don’t need this. She wrote it, you know, I said, OK. And a few minutes later, you know, I’m complaining. I was like, well, I think I’m going to need to call the police or somebody, you know, been able to get into my purse. It’s kind of scary. No. And finally, brother says it was Sister’s idea. She was the one who came up with it. He talks like horseback from Welcome Back, Kotter. It’s the executive strangest little voice. And so, you know, Nyima never really took accountability for this. Strangely enough, like, at no point has she been like, OK, fine, I wrote it like she continues. But the plot twist is that I think that I may have been talking to a guy named James on hange and the match isn’t there anymore. And I wonder because I told her I was like, well, I don’t want to go out with James. I think it’s weird that he wrote this note in my purse and she was like, Oh, but what if he’s nice? I was like, no, I don’t want to go out with James. And so I will, like, spend the rest of my life wondering if Nyima unmatched me from the guy I was talking to on hand who suddenly disappeared because I told her that I didn’t want to go out with James, who wrote me the note, or maybe she just got her message.
S1: You just had him taken care of.
S5: I think that very well might be. And also, this is henges fault for advertising on like Netflix or Hulu, because she would not have known what Hinge was to recognize that she’d seen the logo on my phone. Right. There was a joke about Tinder on Blackish. I could have kept Nyima protected from ever knowing that I had a tender account that I really don’t use anymore, because it’s just that now once your kid makes a joke about you being on Tinder, it’s over. It’s like you have no more dignity. It’s the end. Like, I just have to do this the old fashioned way. Now, that being Hinche the old fashioned way, that being handled well, now I feel that I don’t belong there anymore, so I don’t know what to do. But she is constantly reminding me that she just wants somebody to take care of me. Wouldn’t it be nice if someone took you on a nice date? I’m like a lot of men want to take you on dates am I’m like, I’m not exactly sure it’s a pandemic. It’s not, you know, so she decides to step in. So perhaps the triumph ultimately is that my daughter decided to step in on behalf of what she thinks is my very sad love life.
S4: I’m going to go ahead, make a ruling on this. My ruling is adorable. Yeah, I agreed. Everything about that story is great.
S5: That’s the problem with the court of Nyima is that the ruling is always a Darvocet like no matter how terrible the infraction, it’s just like, you know, I just wait for, like, some kind of like something around her head and she just kind of, you know, pokes her. She it’s like the opposite of everybody hates Chris is like but Nyima is cute and everybody loves not everybody loves him.
S2: OK, before we move on, let’s do the business. So we have a big announcement.
S7: Very exciting. There’s going to be a special bonus. Mom and dad are fighting episode every Tuesday. Yes. For the next six weeks. Bonus, bonus, bonus, extra episode of Mom and Dad are fighting. Every Tuesday, Elizabeth and I will be covering all aspects of getting your kids ready for what will be certainly a very unique new school year. And while, of course, that means we’ll be covering school policies and talking about making the safest decision for your children, going into the relative unknown of school year 2020, 2021, we will also be covering other very important things, such as how to build a relationship with your kids, teachers and setting up your at home study space. We’re so excited about the extra episodes and we hope you are, too. So we’ll see you back here this coming Tuesday with more of us. And if next Tuesday is too far away, of course, you can tune in tonight for The Kids Are Asleep. It’s a hilarious Slate live show every Thursday night starring moi. I go live Thursday nights talking about some of the joys and frustrations that come with modern parenthood and modern life and all types of other very interesting things, usually a spirited conversation, if you know what I mean. And this week I’m going to be talking to Dr. Schimel Bell, who is an activist, artist and mother. She’s phenomenal. And we’re going to be talking about the stallion and a black girl. Payen, this is sure to be a very interesting conversation, one that you should want to be a fly on the wall for. So to catch the show live, you can go to Slate’s Facebook page two nights at 10:00 p.m. Eastern, 7:00 p.m. Pacific, or you can watch on Slate’s YouTube page. And if you’ve missed any previous episodes, which include our first episode with Roy Wood Jr. a couple of weeks ago and last week’s episode with retired porn performer Cinnamon Love, you can check them out on Slate’s YouTube page as well. So be sure to stay connected to us on YouTube and on Facebook. And while you’re on Facebook, do not forget to join our active, moderated parenting community, which is filled with people giving and receiving parenting advice. Just search for slate parenting on Facebook and of course, to stay abreast of all of Slate’s parenting content and shows, sign up for Slate’s parenting newsletter. It’s the best place to be notified about all of our parenting content, including care and feeding. Mom and dad are fighting and much more. Plus, of course, it is a fun and very personal email from Dan directly to your inbox each week.
S2: Sign up at Slate that com slash parenting email.
S8: All right, let’s get to our first listener question, which is being read as often by the fabulous Shasha Lanard.
S9: Dear Mom and Dad, our elementary school just announced it’s going two days in school, three days remote with an all distance learning option. Everyone we know is talking about withdrawing their kids and homeschooling private school for a year, creating homeschool pods. Even the ones committed to keeping their kids in the public school are podding with friends to share the time and energy burden. One pod has already started advertising to hire a teacher to run it. I’m completely lost. Are we hurting our fourth grader if we just send him to school two days a week? Are we hurting other kids and the system? If we’re contributing to crowding, what’s the argument against pods? Isn’t it just a way to help your kid keep up? Help?
S8: I, too, have questions. Dear listener. Dan, let’s start with you. What do you think about all this?
S10: Yeah, I’m happy to start on this one. A few weeks ago, we had our teacher roundtable episode and I asked our panelists, are four panels teachers basically a version of this question like isn’t it sort of incumbent on people to find ways to keep their kids out of schools right now to make it better for other kids who have to go to those schools? And isn’t it useful to have ways to keep up to keep your kid from falling behind? And Brandon Hersi, who’s a teacher and a school board member from Seattle, said in response to that, basically, I think that’s racist as fuck. And I think that that answer raised a lot of hackles with a lot of our listeners. I see from the Facebook page and I know from from people I know who listen that. They sort of feel like, well, if I’m just trying to protect the system and I’m trying to protect at risk kids by pulling my not at risk kid out because it’s unsafe for everyone to be in the school. And if I’m trying theropod or some other technique to keep my kid from falling behind, what harm am I really doing? Right.
S1: So I want to start by talking about the racial equity argument against learning pad’s the thing that lots of people are talking about right now, this notion that you stay in the school doing the remote learning program, but you create a little group of four or five kids, maybe even with a professional teacher sort of overseeing it, to run the whole thing and to get them all together for this learning experience. The best argument against this was laid out in an op ed in the Times that was written by a woman named Clairton Bergreen who works in an Atlanta schools. And here’s how the argument goes, basically. So pods, as we are seeing them being developed right now, are primarily the domain of well-off white families. Right. Those are the families who are mostly exploring this option because those are the families mostly that have the time to supervise a pod and or the resources to hire someone to supervise it for them. So if you have a bunch of pods being created by well-off white parents for their kids, given that we live in a country where about seventy five percent of white people have no close relationships with any people of color at all, it is not a stretch to predict that most of the pods are going to be pretty segregated, pretty segregated by race and pretty segregated by class. So the result is going to be a bunch of well-off kids getting ahead and staying safer and leaving other kids in those school systems to fall behind and to get put more at risk. And so that’s the argument in a nutshell, right, that the goal of everyone at a time like this should not be to individually jerry rig a solution that gets your kid through this time and the best way possible. The goal should be to have everyone maintaining maximum commitment to the public good of public school and increasing the pressure on the system to adapt and get better for everyone. But I’m curious, Elizabeth, how does this look to you as someone who has chosen homeschooling for reasons that don’t have anything to do with covid, that you chose it long before this process happened and you don’t have a formal pod, but you definitely have relationships with other homeschooling parents in your area. And so how does the pod discussion look from your perspective?
S3: So I think, first of all, like the op ed also kind of ended with this sort of like I don’t have a solution to this. Like the system already has the same problems that the pod has. Right. The reaction to the covid crisis is also classist and elitist and racist. But the system was all that to start out with. So we decided to homeschool, you know, for a variety of reasons. And yes, I think that part of homeschooling is relying on other parents, be that other homeschooling parents online or whatever, because it is a lot of responsibility to have the kids at home. I guess I’m just stuck in this place where I think. If a pot is what you need to get through this time, it is not the best solution in any way, shape or form for the reasons that you’ve talked about. But I guess I just don’t know where the solution is supposed to come from. And I absolutely don’t want to, you know, decided I’m against disadvantaging people or making things worse for people. But I don’t know that we can handle kind of the school’s racial and social inequalities at the same time as trying to figure out how the heck are we going to school, these children across the United States in totally different covid situations, in totally different outbreak, socioeconomic. Who can afford this? Who can do that? I don’t know what the answer is, but I think that if you are taking resources from the school, if you are hiring a teacher away from the school, that is a problem. I think also that there are a lot of really creative solutions being published in The New York Times and The Washington Post and plenty of other publications saying these are other ways that we could handle that. And some of those involve having, you know, pods, but they all involve the government taking some action in terms of like making sure that teachers stay employed, that if you choose to pod for this year, if you choose to homeschool, that, that does not influence the budget of the school over the next six months or a year. And I don’t see a lot of that happening. I guess I’m just like constantly torn between. I think there is this like human desire to do what is best for your family and what is best for your children. And I don’t know how when everything else is stressed, if you feel like it is not safe to send my children, but I also have to work. And so what am I going to do with these kids? And if I have someone else that is willing to say, like, OK, let’s share this burden, I’m not sure there’s a lot of space to say like. But this isn’t the most equitable plan because there’s no one to support an actual plan. Like what? Someone give me a roadmap where my family can survive and we can be equitable. And I think that doesn’t exist because the problems that we are seeing always existed. You could make this argument about, you know, don’t private schools do the same thing? Don’t all homeschoolers do the same thing? I don’t know. I guess what it boils down to is we’re so inundated that just trying to figure out what the next six months is going to look like. And so the only advice I can give is that, like, you have to make a decision that is based on what’s best for your family. But you should also make that decision, understanding what those consequences are. And I know for us homeschooling it means that I am invested in the school system, even though we don’t necessarily use it. Like I pay attention to the school races, I pay attention to what’s happening in the public schools, in the different places that we live, because I think that is fundamentally important.
S4: There’s my jumble of like this is a mess. And if the message is it is a mess. Jamila, what do you think? You know?
S8: Part of the reason that we are struggling with coronavirus in this country in the way that we are, is because this is a nation that’s ruled by individual pursuit of life, liberty and happiness. Right. So it’s not about our neighbors. It’s not about our communities. You know, and for some folks, it’s not even about extended family. It’s me, myself, my household, perhaps my kids, me. So what’s really, I think, jarring about having the juxtaposition of the basically the United States is leading the world and the spread of coronavirus and coronavirus. That’s because people refuse to take personal responsibility, but also not adhering to the idea that, like, maybe I don’t feel like I’m at risk, but I could save other people, you know, like I can slow the spread of this, like by sacrificing my desire to hang out at the mall or to go on a date or to do certain things for a short amount of time. I can benefit the collective like that happening at the same moment that we’re seeing like massive uprising related to racial justice, that for once in history, like the majority of the faces that you’re seeing are not black faces. Right. That thousands of people across the country, across the world, but speaking specifically of America in this moment, have taken to the streets, have taken to the streets of communities where there are no black people. Right. Like you see what you see in Portland. It is not just that there’s been a strategic decision to put white mothers on the front lines. It’s like, yes, there is strategy behind that. But also there’s only like five percent of the people in Portland are black to begin with. Right. So, like, to have a mass uprising in Portland means that a lot of white folks have taken to the street. And so like to see that level of like. We care like we care about these people who are not us, like we care about these experiences that are not our own, like we’re prioritizing that. Well, now, the solution to this issue that we’re having is not a solution, right. As it relates to the pandemic podding. It’s what is required, like what is truly being asked of us. If we’re going to have a lens on the situation that is shaped by care for racial justice and economic justice is that parents with resources are still directing energy and attention to supporting kids that do not have them. And so I listen to Nicole Hannah Jones speak at a conference last week and, you know, talk about like if the energy that’s being put into forming these pandemic pods by well-to-do parents was instead concentrated on demanding a federal reopening plan for schools. Right. For demanding that resources are adequately directed toward the children that are most in need. So providing at home Internet, you know, providing access to devices where school work can be done as opposed to saying, OK, we’re going to have Wi-Fi in a parking lot and hopefully you can get to the parking lot and socially distance and have a safe place to to complete your work and be hydrated and, you know, and have something to eat. There’s just so many moving pieces that there’s a great demand being put before people that are used to sacrificing very little on behalf of their countrymen. Right. And on behalf of neighbors and people to whom they don’t necessarily feel a history of being connected or beholden to them, or that, you know, the success of your children is connected to the success of my children. And I think this is one of those rare times where as opposed to saying no, you know, if you’re about Liberacion, if you’re about, you know, racial equity, this is the thing that you must do. This is a lot more unclear because like Elizabeth said, what is a parent to do if they have somewhere to be that does not allow them to bring both of their children, you know, like what is the parent who has work to do if they know that they are not capable for any number of reasons of being an adequate facilitator of their child’s distance learning curriculum? Like I struggle with it, you know, and there’s a very good chance my daughter is going to be attending a different school next year. And I’m devastated about like I’m just completely like it’s a conversation for another episode, but for a whole lot of reasons. I really like the black public school where I have my child. I want her there, you know. But I also know that I have some serious limitations as it relates to my ability to be a person who earns a living in the way that I earn a living and also a present parent who’s making sure that she’s learning and doing her schoolwork during my work day in my presence. So with that, I think there are people who are in a position to make demands. I think we can all be demanding a federal response. I think there’s a way that we can all be engaged in saying like what is being provided for children that are, you know, in need is insufficient. And it does not matter if we are, you know, in a position to provide a quarantine tutor for our kids or if we are left to deal with what the local public school offers us or if we’re going private school, which we are not the way I haven’t gone that far off the deep end. But I think that if all of those parties were unified in calling for better for the children that are relying upon the public school system, I think we’d be in better shape. I don’t know that simply saying we’ll keep our kids in public schools is a demand that can be made of people that, you know, just because they were willing to take advantage of good public schools in their neighborhood or just because, you know, their presence may have led to greater resources, more money, better hires for those public schools. You know, I think a certain gentrifying areas, I never would have trusted that those parents were going to truly invest in those schools.
S3: You know, I feel like you summarized things so well to say, like, it’s just so hard because we should be demanding all this stuff. And that seems to be like all that we’re kind of left with. I live in Florida. I do not have any confidence that my local government, let alone my federal government, cares what I think about schools. Now, we do have a school board election going on and I am like invested in seeing what my options are, but they’re not great. I don’t really know that either. People that I have a choice to vote for care about any of this. They want the schools open to meet some political goals. And I find that very frustrating. And I think we’re kind of all sitting there.
S11: I don’t know, Jamal, I’m really taken by your comparison of the similarities between the the crisis in schools and the crisis in the coronavirus writ large. And I do agree that there’s an aspect of the coronavirus crisis, the United States, that is specifically and deeply connected to America. And personal liberty is one way of saying that or selfishness is another way of saying it, but I think it’s worth noting that that’s not the primary driver of what is happening with coronavirus in the United States. The primary driver is political malpractice, bureaucratic incompetence, combined with a certain American ideas about liberty that creates a pretty toxic situation, which is what we’re seeing. But I also think that’s relevant to the school situation. The driver of the school crisis is not individual choices or even the coronavirus. The driver of the school crisis is the years of neglect that have put us in this position, a position where the schools have no flexibility or power to initiate the change that they need to change and where all of us feel powerless to do anything about that.
S8: Right. There’s just also a lack of will in certain regards. Right. I think that there are issues in society that are widely recognized as worthy of consideration and change. And I think that school segregation is one of those issues that we have culturally failed to continue to engage with.
S11: It’s a classic example of an issue that white people in particular agree with in theory, but that in practice it always seems to fall apart for some reason. Elizabeth, you’re right that there is no good solution. And you’re right that the piece that I referred to, the Times piece makes that point. There’s that very powerful bit at the end where the author basically says, you know, you’ll read this article and ask, what am I supposed to do instead? And she doesn’t have the answer. It’s going to be incredibly hard for so many people. It’s going to be a nightmare for many families, I think. My argument about this is that in the absence of direct physical danger to your child or to members of your family, an immunocompromised person in your family, a true sense that the school is going to be a truly dangerous place right now in the year 2020, when the shit is really hitting the fan. It is incumbent on those of us who can to choose the path that harms the fewest people and has the greatest chance of provoking change, not just the one that is the best for our little family. That is the way that we almost always want to make almost all the choices in our life. And sometimes it works out fine. But now, for exactly the reasons, Elizabeth, you say it’s so hard to broaden the scope of those choices outside of our little families. I think we have to. And I know that that’s hard. The idea at any time that there’s something we can afford to do for our kids, but we’re just not going to do it for any reason is a really hard thing to swallow for almost every parent I know. But I really feel like if there’s ever a time to make this choice, has even the chance of benefiting the community and then to make all the choices that should go along with it, to increase the power of the choice that you, an individual, make, now is the time, even though everything is really hard, in fact, because everything is really hard.
S3: I just think that I’m not sure that we can all agree what those steps are like. What if you are in an overcrowded school district in which the social distancing is the problem? Like then is it OK to pod? Is that the best choice? Because you cannot be there? You know what? If you’re in a school district where the where the resources are very limited to serve the amount of people and so, like Internet is only available at the school or something like that. I mean, for my friends in Florida, we have the leading number of cases, rising numbers, and they are basically forcing schools to open. In a lot of places, there is not a virtual option even available because they just we know coronaviruses is not a problem, it’s not going to spread between kids. I think that is a very different decision than where I think a lot of people live. It’s a very different decision than mine. Yes. Yes. Where things are coming down, people are wearing masks. People are doing all of that. So I, I completely understand that we should be making the decision. You know, I, I also think there are decisions like teaching at home enables you to teach some things that are not being taught in schools. And I’m not saying that that again, I think that the public school system needs to be supported and fighting for good things to happen to it and for us to. Right a lot of things that have gone wrong with it. But there’s a lot of things that aren’t happening. And if you have this opportunity to show your kids what that looks like or the difference or take a year and and use a curriculum that is more inclusive, is that better? If I produce humans that are more aware of these issues and therefore can go out and create change, is that better? I don’t know. I’m just saying I think it looks it looks different to everyone. And that’s I mean, that’s why we’re here.
S11: Well, and that’s what everyone is dealing with, with every choice that we are all making the summer. And it’s what we’ve been talking about all spring and all summer, the fact that every choice comes freighted with a million possible consequences and we don’t know what they all are. And I think I’m just arguing for people to take more seriously the idea that now is a time to weigh community benefit more heavily in your calculus than you might otherwise. And if you live someplace like fucking Florida, where your only choice is to send your kid to a school that is going to be a hotbed of coronavirus because they’re being fucking idiots and not giving you any other options, I’m not going to judge you or hassle you harshly for making a decision that maybe is going to save your life. Yeah, but at the same time, there are millions and millions and millions of parents all over this country right now who given the choice between something that is going to be beneficial even a little bit for everyone in their community, and seizing the chance to get their kid ahead in the guise of, quote unquote, keeping up are going for the latter. And that drives me some crazy. And that is what I find like fairly gross.
S8: I think it’s important that we, you know, reflect on the fact that there have been organizers of color. There have been organizers from low income white communities. You know, there have been a lot of folks that have been fighting for reform of the public school system and who have been fighting to desegregate schools or to ensure that, you know, school districts are adequately funded for all children, regardless of how wealthy their parents may or may not be. You know, people who fought against redistricting and, you know, changing the makeup of schools and closing schools in order to recreate or redesign a community. And what we need the most privileged amongst us to do now is to raise their voices and to work on behalf of those communities and not to steamroll over their efforts, but to step in and say, like, how can I be of service? Like, who do I need to call? Where do I need to organize? Like, how do I, you know, while continuing to make decisions in order to protect the physical safety of my child. Because I think there is a difference between, like, is this an issue of physical safety or is this an issue of the caliber of instruction or the ability for you to, you know, have access to certain resources? I would never tell somebody to go send your child physically somewhere that you don’t feel comfortable with. But if we’re talking about, you know, making phone calls, if we’re talking about organizing, if we’re talking about what to say that Black Lives Matter, you know, means something to you to say that black lives matter and to put a sign in your yard to attend a vigil like is insufficient. You know, you have to also say it’s unreasonable that the schools in this community, you know, that the children are going to be forced to return because you’re saying that the only way that kids in this area will have food or access to, you know, instructional tools is to show up in person when you should be instead figure out ways to accommodate those children and make sure that they have the things that they need at home. So how do we do that? There’s a real demand on us to be actively engaged. And for many of us, in ways that we haven’t been with our child’s public school systems in the past, it’s difficult, but I’m definitely not going to ever point a finger at somebody who’s like, I’m faced with putting my child physically in a school because that’s the right thing to do versus what institution is doing our virtual learning. So are we podding or are we doing online school with the local public school? Right. I think those are two very different conversation.
S1: All right, this has been extremely fruitful, confusing, frustrating everything that every conversation has been in the year of our Lord 20, 20. Hurray! But I’m very interested in the second half of the show, Djamila, what are we going next?
S8: And so now we have a couple of guests that are going to be joining the homeschooling conversation. If you’ve already decided that homeschooling is the right move for your family to stay safe, figuring out just how you’re going to teach your children from home can be a bit overwhelming. Luckily, our homeschooling extraordinaire Elizabeth will be joined by two other homeschooling moms to help steer you in the right direction. But before we get to that, let’s first hear our second listener question being read again by the one and only Shasha Lanard.
S9: Dear mom and dad, my eldest is in high school and is immunocompromised. So we’ve taken the quarantine extremely seriously, especially because we live in a covid hotspot state where lots of people don’t wear masks, which is, I guess, frustrating, to say the least. Since the beginning of the pandemic, we’ve been nervous about school in the spring, our schools transition quickly to online learning, but now it seems like they’ll be doing a combination of online and in-person education. There is no way I am sending my kids to a school to bring the coronavirus home. And in fact, my daughter or any of us for that matter. I know some parents are forming homeschool pods, but to be honest, that feels too risky for us too. So this year I’m homeschooling four kids on my own. At least until schools are safe enough to rejoin my husband will help when he can, but he works remotely full time. I’ve started to do some research, but I’m totally overwhelmed. Do I have to design all their classes? How do I juggle four different curriculums for four different age levels 11th, 9th, sixth and fourth grade? I don’t know anything about AP bio, which my oldest is supposed to be taking. How do I teach you that? How do I do all of this while working part time at home? Quitting my job isn’t an option either. Help. Thanks. Frazzled first time home schooler.
S3: How to even begin homeschooling is a great question. I’m still relatively new on my homeschool journey. So to help me answer this question, I’m joined by two of my favorite homeschoolers. They both have a soft spot for those of us just starting out with homeschool. Monica Olivera is a homeschooling mother of three, a freelance education writer, and runs the site Mommy Maestre, which is a wonderful resource, especially for bilingual homeschoolers. Welcome. Monica, thank you so much. Thanks for having me. We’re so excited to have you here. We’re also joined by Latanya Moore. She’s a homeschooling mother of two runs, Joy in the Ordinary, which is also a wonderful resource for homeschoolers. And on top of teaching her daughter, she teaches art and math online throughout school. Welcome, Latanya. Thanks for having me. I’m so happy to be here. Well, you guys, I’m so excited to have you here to offer some advice to our listeners. We’ve gotten a lot of homeschooling questions. So I guess I’d like to start with just what piece of advice do you have that you think is kind of most important for our first time homeschooling parents?
S12: Well, one piece of advice that I give to any person who’s thinking about bringing their kids home is to stop, take a moment to breathe, because it is a big change. And, you know, any time there’s a transition, you have to adapt. And sometimes we want to just go with the transition, like, OK, we’re shifting to something new, so let’s just jump into it. But I think as families are deciding to make this shift, give yourself space to stop and breathe, even though it may feel like you don’t have the option to stop and breathe because school is starting tomorrow, you do you do have the option to stop. And just give yourself a moment, Monica.
S3: How about you? Yeah, I agree with what she says.
S13: I do think that a lot of parents that I’m talking to who are starting for the first time are really stressed out and thinking they’ve got to start by a certain date. And the reality is, when you homeschool, you have so much more freedom, it’s much more relaxed. There’s no you must start by the state, for example. So taking a moment, like she says, to gather yourself and prepare ahead of time is really going to help parents. Honestly, I think that the best piece of advice that I got when I first started homeschooling was to get a complete curriculum, because up until that point, I was trying to do school like school at home. That wasn’t what I should have been doing. And then we were struggling with that because I had expectations from my kindergartner that were unrealistic. So I think by getting a complete home school, especially for the mom who we just heard about in her letter, I think having complete curricula for each child is going to really take the weight and the burden off of her and really allow her to, I guess, not stress out and be able to still work during the situation. And she’s certainly lucky because she has older children who can do most of the work on their own and don’t need as much guidance, for example, as someone who has children in elementary school.
S3: I love the advice that you both gave, because I think when I started it was the same thing. Like I expected that I needed to run the classroom at home and we had been living in the Netherlands. So that classroom looked a little different. But I still just thought, like, how do I make this work at my house? And what you both touched on is this idea that, like, it’s not supposed to look like that, it’s going to look different depending on your family and what your schedule is. And so this advice to like lower, not necessarily lower, but change those expectations. I think that is great. And Monica, since you touched on curriculum, one of the misconceptions of homeschooling is that homeschool parents are responsible for like creating their kid’s entire curriculum when in reality there are a lot of curriculums and available. So where would you start to look, Monica, before we touch on curricula?
S13: Probably the number one thing parents need to do first is check their state laws, because that could affect which curriculum they’re going to purchase. So it’s easy to find there’s several websites that tell you what your state laws are. So that’s something that is really important. Then you can go online and look for some that meet the requirements for your state if they have one. For example, here in Texas, we don’t have anything specific about the curricula that we use. Finding a complete curriculum is easier to find online simply by Googling it. So you can go on there and type in. Let’s say you want an accredited curriculum or you want a religious curriculum or you want a secular curriculum. You just type in those words of what your look.
S3: Four, and you should be able to find a whole list that comes up immediately, does the advice on finding a curriculum change any as your kids get older? Let’s say specifically you need like an Algebra two curriculum or you’re worried about meeting those. Could you provide some advice on that?
S12: Yeah, we started homeschooling when my daughters were young and now I have one in middle school, one in high school. If you are just starting out homeschooling, I would suggest. Going to some of the popular curricula brands, and I say that because they’ve been out for a while, so they’re not trying to figure out how to teach math because they’ve been doing it for 20, 30 plus years. So their books should be pretty solid. And one resource that I would say you could use to figure out, well, who are these brands that she’s talking about? There’s a company called Rainbow Resource and that has a lot of curricula post it and it separate it by topic and by grade. So if you are choosing to handle all of the subjects yourself, then starting there with that resource could be very beneficial because it does change. When I started teaching my daughters, we used to workbooks like I didn’t mind going to borders. I always bring up borders, even though borders is not open anymore because I love borders. But I, I would go to Borders and get whatever books that looked cool and my kids would like and that’s what we did. We didn’t use homeschool curricula. As we talk about curricula, I do want to encourage parents to not feel like they have to be the high school science teacher that their child would have if they were still in the school building. Not having AP biology isn’t going to hinder your child from going to the college or university that they would like to attend. And that’s my personal opinion. I believe that whatever we are meant to be or meant to do will get there and it may not look exactly the way our parents or our educators thought it would look, but we could still end up at that place. So I guess I want to encourage parents who are thinking about what can I use to teach my child? I want to encourage you to step back and think about, well, what is that? That you really need it to get to where you are today. And if you didn’t have all those things that you think your kids need right now and you still made it to the point where you are today, why are you putting that pressure on yourself?
S3: Yes, that’s a great point. And particularly when you’re starting out like you don’t necessarily need to do it all in this first six months or in this year. Like if it turns out that that AP bio is something not only that you want for your child, but your child really wants, there are ways to make that happen, be that taking college classes that are available to you, finding that online, there are a ton of states that offer free online classes. Obviously, in this case, like using the resources at a high school are not an option because you’re trying to stay out of the school. But that may become an option. So I think particularly to this question saying like, hey, it doesn’t need to be all these things right now. And I think before we go any further, I would like to quickly sort of distinguish between distance learning and homeschooling, because particularly in the conversation that happened back in the winter when things were closing down, you know, it was like everyone’s going to home school. And I know I kept saying, like, no, no, unless you’ve committed to homeschooling your distance learning. And that that is a whole nother thing. But, Monica, do you think you can give kind of a definition of what you see the difference between distance learning and homeschooling is?
S13: Yeah, absolutely. In fact, I wrote about this because I saw so many people talking about how much they hated homeschooling and they weren’t they weren’t homeschooling. And it was different for homeschoolers, too. But basically, distance learning is where you might be at home or anywhere else other than the school. But you’re still learning from another teacher, like online or even like a correspondence course that’s all considered distance learning, whereas homeschooling, typically the parent or parents are in charge of overseeing the entire education process. So even if they aren’t teaching it directly, quite often a lot of home schoolers do take online courses, which is a form of distance learning, but the parent is still managing. OK, he’s going to take this course. I’m going to see what grades he takes, etc.. And for a great example is the AP bio. You know, the College Board offers free online classes for for AP bio. So, you know, even if you’re homeschooling and your child is taking that, you’re still in charge of their education overall as opposed to a school or or other entity online. And one last thing I might just mention, too, is in terms of homeschooling and perspective and curricula and all that stuff. I think one of the biggest questions. Is are you doing this just to get through this year, or are you planning to make home school kind of a long term thing? And so, you know, like Latonia mentioned, you have lots of time and you don’t have to do everything right now. And that’s 100 percent true, especially if you are homeschooling for the long run, if you’re just homeschooling just for this year, just to try and make it through until your kids can safely go back to school, then you may have to find out from the school what it is you need to be teaching them so that they can go back in whenever everyone is ready for them to do so.
S3: Yeah, I think a lot of people’s fear is that if they homeschool, that their child will fall behind. I think the three of us probably all agree that that’s not true, because if we thought that, why would we be homeschooling? Right. But do you think you can offer some advice to the parents who are very worried about that? Like, I don’t want my child to fall behind by either doing this for a year or switching to this for a longer period of time.
S12: Yeah, so if you are from the space of OK, I don’t know what the future will hold. They may go back to school and I don’t want them to be behind. I do agree with Monica as far as knowing the future expectation. If you have this well, my child is going back to school, that’s going to loom over you and it’s going to maybe make you feel paralyzed because, you know, that is going to be evaluated by someone and the future. And that person could be well, it’s because their mom chose to homeschool them. But I do want to because I’m a very optimistic person. I do want you to just feel like this. Almost everyone I want to say everyone. I’m just gonna say almost everyone in the twenty, twenty, twenty one school year will be in the same space year in whether they are using their public school system or just say, OK, we’re not going to use the school system and I’m going to figure it out by myself, almost everyone is going to be in that situation. So with my optimistic viewpoint, the schools will have to adjust. That’s my viewpoint. Like things will have to adjust to meet where we are as a society. And this is where we are right now. But I don’t want you to think that. I’m saying like, well, don’t do anything because the world is falling apart. That’s not what I’m saying at all. I want you to sit with yourself, sit with your child, see what they sent home. Because I know even though my kids don’t go to public school, I remember going to public school and I remember counselors, especially high school. So right now I’m really thinking about the high schooler. And I remember my counselors telling me what I need to do in this school year and the following school year if I wanted to go to college. You arm yourself with that information and it’s like, OK, even if my kids don’t ever go to high school, this is what guides me. They need to know how to think, period. Like they need to know how to think for themselves because we can’t have the excuse nobody taught me. So they need to be able to think for themselves. They need to know how to write everything that I do, no matter what I’m doing, it all falls under. I need to write some stuff down. So making sure your child knows how to write, they need to know how to read once they know how to read and they have good reading comprehension. All that other stuff, biology, science, history. If they know how to think, read and write, they can figure out the other stuff too. So if you don’t have a plan and you’re not 100 percent sure about what you’re doing, make sure you give your kids those solid three hours. I didn’t mention math, but definitely make sure they have math because we don’t know what tests want to look like in the future. But we know that math is usually tested. So you want to make sure they have those things. And when you make sure those things are taken care of and they’re building those skills in there, becoming better writers, they’re becoming better communicators, they are learning how to think about the big picture, whatever is presented to them, it’s a good chance they will be able to explain themselves and figure it out as they are doing it.
S3: We’ve talked a little bit about how, like with older kids, Monica, you hit on this like you can give them curriculum. And for the most part, they know how to do work. But we also have listeners who have younger kids. The nice thing about elementary is that a lot of the pressure is off because so much of it is like meeting, you know, learning to read, learning to write. And those things happen kind of with practice along the track. But what if I just can you give to them about just like dealing with elementary kids as a home school mom, getting them to sit down and doing their work. And for me, I have three boys and making that change from like I’m not just your mom. I’m now also your teacher took a while, like, hey, this is how we’re going to behave in the classroom and or in their classroom setting. Right. Like when we’re doing schoolwork. And that is sometimes fundamentally different than like me as the mom. You know, it’s all going to be OK. Give a hug. I’ll tolerate some silliness type of deal. But do you guys have advice for those elementary, you know, moms and dads out there who are now going to struggle with this transition?
S14: I do think that elementary or parents with younger children anyway, definitely have to put a little bit more work into it because, I mean, obviously, you are much more actively engaged in teaching specific concepts and specific skills, but you also should probably start thinking a little bit more outside the box. I mean, in a school setting, you are very constrained about what’s appropriate behavior and we got to get through all this blah, blah, blah. But at home, you know, I mean, really, your school work can be done on the couch. It can be done on the porch. It can be done outside. It can be done anywhere. You it’s much more a. Taxed and, you know, your kids can can laying on their bed and read a book that they’re supposed to read or practice their ABCs or anything like that, and there’s a lot more actual activities that you do at home that teach for like the really younger crowd, for example, will just go to preschool here because I have a three year old that I’ll be preschool in this coming year. And it’s simple things like even if you’re doing household chores, like sorting socks, that sorting is a critical skill that they’re learning, learning their colors, which socks match, you know, what color is that sock? All this stuff is not necessarily, you know, something you would do in school for sure. They would probably do the same thing just using other materials. So you’re you’re using what you have and I think making it more relaxed and fun as best as you can. So you just have to kind of think a little bit more broadly. I will say when I was trying to teach my kindergartner, when we first started homeschooling, I was literally trying to make her just sit and do worksheets for like 30 minutes. And the reason that the curriculum helped me was because it was like chunks of like five minutes here, 15 minutes there. And, you know, with younger kids, you’re done in an hour or maybe even less because you’ve taught those specific concepts. It doesn’t take that long and you will review it again the next day. And it all starts to scaffold and build and learn. Whereas even with the older kids, like my middle kid is going to start ninth grade. And for a lot of us, I think they’re done, you know, in three hours because you can go as fast as they can learn something or as slow, you know. So it just you only have one kid you have to worry about. Well, or you may have four. I mean, it might take longer if you have four children like she had mentioned earlier, because you’re trying to get everybody sorted. But it doesn’t have to take forever. And I think that was what helped me the most is realizing I don’t have to make her sit at the table for 30 minutes and, you know, match balls on a paper or something. You know, I learned that, hey, it only takes a few minutes while she’s got it. Let’s go ahead and move on to the next thing.
S12: As Monica shared, it might only take you an hour or 30 minutes or maybe 90 minutes. So don’t feel like, oh, it didn’t take that long. I must be doing something wrong. I think a lot of parents have that fear of, oh, it’s not taken that long. We should be doing more and more and more. And that’s not always the case. They are learning by being in the kitchen with you. They’re learning when you guys are watching a documentary or even if it’s not a documentary, if you’re watching something that’s funny, they’re still learning. We have all these weird conversations and amazing conversations based off things that we watch. And for some, it wouldn’t be considered educational, but it’ll turn into a learning moment. Learning is everywhere. Picking up new information is everywhere. So don’t constrict yourself to it. Having to look just this one way, you’ll be amazed about what your kids know.
S3: Yeah, exactly. I think those are great tips because this mom in particular is looking for ways to homeschool while she’s working and to be able to say like, hey, look, homeschooling can kind of happen any time. Like, you can do more on the weekends if that’s a better time for you. If you if you’re work hours are in the morning, then shift school to the afternoon because it doesn’t take as long. There’s lots of options while our time with you wonderful ladies is wrapping up. But I would love for each of you to share something that you just like love about homeschooling. Or one last tip for these parents out there that are going to give this a try.
S12: Yes, I feel like I have to say something about working in homeschooling, because that was a question that she had. I’ve always done something and now I work full time and I teach online for about school. And to help me manage all of that, I give myself space. You know, I use curricula to help me for some subjects, but I’m also signing my kids up for classes on out school, for other subjects. And you have the resources. You can get help from other places so that you’re not feeling like you have to do it all by yourself. And I also, for the most part, I choose to work earlier in the morning, like I’ll just get up and get a few hours in so that I can give my kids time during the day because the daytime hours are my best hours. And then I’ll go back to work a little bit later. So if you have the space to kind of mix up your schedule to make it work for your family, I highly suggest doing that. And even if you work for a company where you can’t communicate, this is where I am. I need a little bit more flexibility in my schedule. I believe a lot of companies. Understand that we are all in this thing together. That’s my suggestion with the working at home part to see if you can change your schedule a little bit so that it’ll work in your family’s favor and you don’t feel like you’re working against everything the whole time. And Monica, how about you?
S14: So in terms of what I love best about schooling, I was pleasantly surprised at how much fun it actually did turn out to be for me, not just for the kids, because I honestly, when you have little kids, younger kids, that’s that is so fun, you know, I mean, it really is there. Some of the greatest joys, I think, for me was like teaching my kids to read and knowing now, like, you know, after a few years, they were reading way over what their grade level or whatever, whatever. You know, not that I put much stock into that, but they were avid readers. They enjoyed it. They loved it. And I think being able to have that kind of fun was really important. And also, as they get older and this is probably the surprising thing for me is that, you know, I learned along with them some of the stuff that I probably should have learned in school when I was a kid. But it was so dry and boring back then that it was like, this is horrible, but I didn’t remember any of it. And then I learned it. Now, because we have so many great resources available now that make it much more exciting and interesting, like living books that, you know, there’s that who was serious and it gives you like their their story of their life. And it’s just so much more engaging and it really sticks in your mind. And, you know, I’ve just been so happy with what I’ve learned alongside them, you know, and of course, you learn more because you’re trying to teach them. So in order to to master something, you have to know what it is. Right. Overall, it’s a different kind of fun as they get older. But it’s something that’s really precious to me is how close we’ve become as a family as a result of it. And we still have our squabbles and stuff like any other family. But, you know, that’s part of the whole thing. You know, we we just really have had a good time. I mean, the whole learning journey.
S3: Yes. Like I think also just accepting those bad days is OK, too. And that’s something I absolutely. Well, ladies, thank you both so much for joining me. I just really appreciate and value your insights, especially because homeschooling can look so different for every family. So we’re going to put links to mommy, my estra and joy in the ordinary in our show notes. And I definitely encourage anyone who’s thinking about homeschooling to go find these women on Facebook and Instagram and follow them, because you guys are like a joy in my day. Just the little things that you post are those uplifting things that you need when you’re homeschooling. So definitely you’re thinking about it. Go find some people to follow, starting with our two guests. And thank you to again for joining us. Thank you so much. You’re welcome. Thanks for having me.
S15: OK, before we get out of here, guys, let’s do some recommendations then what do you have for us this week?
S1: I know that this game I’m recommending is very old hat for people who are super into games. This is one of the games that, like birth, the tabletop game revival that we are currently in the middle of. But we finally ordered this game and it turned out to be really fun, as I hoped it would be its betrayal at House on the Hill. It’s a sort of a role playing game in which you everyone is playing plays a group of explorers who are collectively working together to explore a spooky old house. As you explore, weird things happen and weird things accumulate. And then all of a sudden, at a crucial moment, one of you turns out to be a traitor. One of you betrays the rest of the group. The house becomes haunted, and the rest of the game is a fight between the remaining players on the traitor to see who will prevail and who will escape. It’s very fun. It’s very complicated. It has three enormous rulebooks. It’s like insane how complicated it is, but we really enjoyed it. And one thing that was nice about this game is that I think Lyra likes playing games with us, but she she is more into narrative than she is into strategy. And so, you know, games like Ticket to Ride or Carcassonne, where it’s just sort of all about figuring out the, you know, the most mathematically perfect way to maximize your points or whatever are not as interesting to her as they are to other people in our family. But betrayal at House on the Hill is about narrative. You’re playing characters and you get to tell stories about those characters and the story turns on a dime. And every time you play the stories a little bit different and she really loved that and having a game that sort of ticks those boxes for her. So it’s something that she’s excited about playing maybe a little more than she is. The other games really helps sort of make family game night more fun for everyone. So it’s called betrayal at House on the Hill. It’s for ages 12 and up. I’d say also I’d say buy it from your local game store. We got it from the great Labrinth games on Capitol Hill. We’ll post a link to the game on our show page.
S16: That sounds like a lot of fun. Dan, Elizabeth, what do you have for us this week?
S3: So I am recommending something that we have been using for our anxious child. Henry called a zoo animal, and it’s kind of a travel meditation device. And we use a lot of meditation with him, particularly when his kind of emotions get really worked up in a situation that you might think of doing like a time out. We try to, like, get him somewhere quiet and calm down before we debrief anything. And this happens a lot of times, too, like when we’re at medical appointments, when we’re traveling, like those things can really stir up his anxiety. And one of the things I had struggled with is I could have stuff on my phone, but sometimes I need my phone for, you know, to talk to Jeff at that moment or to try to get some additional assistance. And so we found this little device called Xenomorph and it’s just a little turtle. And it has this like silicone cover that actually is like a good sensory item, too. It charges with a USB if it’s in my purse and has I think maybe like six or eight pre-programmed meditations in them. And so we can also practice using those meditations and then we’re hearing the same ones when we’re out. And so it’s just been a really great tool for us. Now, if you don’t use meditations like this is not a magic device like you need to practice and be using it, but it’s worked really well. The sleep one he uses most nights and is out in like fifteen minutes, which used to be kind of this battle, and his meditation was on his iPad. So then like, if it didn’t work, he would be able to like use the iPad or I had to leave it in the room, just all these things. So this little animal, it’s a turtle called animal. Oh, it has a headphone jack. That’s the other thing. So when he uses it in the car, we don’t all have to enjoy the meditation. So anyway, this animal, it’s been a nice little check for my anxiety ridden child. But Jamila, what do you have for us?
S16: I am ordering as animal right now. That sounds amazing. I’ve already got one in the shopping cart just from listening to you talk about it. That’s all it took. So this week I’m recommending the kids are asleep. My evening talk show that’s going to be coming on tonight at 7:00 p.m. Pacific. So your kids very well may not be asleep. My kid is likely to be very much awake and possibly present tonight. Who knows? Tune in and find out.
S3: Last week it was like, amazing. Thank you. I just thought it was, like, so fun. And you’re like there was discussion of just so many different topics, like some really serious ones. There are questions about how porn videos are made. Like I just thought it was fascinating. And she was so open. Zinnemann Love, right. Isn’t that. Yes, yes. Love. Just like I thought you guys had a great, like, really fun conversation. If you haven’t tuned in, you should, because Djamila does a great job of talking about both like fun stuff, bringing up little topics, but also like you have had both weeks and like really good insightful discussion. So it’s definitely worth your time.
S16: Thank you. I appreciate the length of it. And yes, you can access previous episodes with comedian Roy Jr. and retired porn performer Cynthia. Love on our YouTube and Facebook pages.
S17: So with that, it’s time for us to go ahead and get out of here. Just as a reminder, if you have any questions that you’d like for us to consider. Mom and dad are fighting in an email to mom and dad and Flatback or posted to Slate’s parenting Facebook group to search for slate parenting. And of course, do not forget to join us this coming Tuesday for the first of our bonus episode. All Djamila and all of it. Everything is going to be lots of fun. Mom and Dad are fighting is produced by Rosemarie Bellson for Dan Quayle and a new camp, Jamilah Lemieux.
S1: Hey, everyone, welcome to the Slate plus segment. Thank you so much for being members of Slate. Plus, we really appreciate all you do for us specifically. We appreciate your money. Welcome back to the show. The fabulous Allison Benedikt. Former mom and dad are fighting co-hosts, current grand poobah of Slate Dotcom. In the background is her handsome husband, John Cook. Hello, Alison. How’s it going?
S15: Hello. It’s great to be here.
S1: I’m happy to have you back. So I wanted to have you on for this segment because you somehow this summer swung the holy grail of summer. Twenty twenty parenting. You got your kids to go to sleep away camp. How did this happen?
S15: Yeah, so first of all, I feel a little bit like coming on to talk about this is just bragging.
S1: It is the triumph of all triumphs.
S15: We just so happen to send our kids to a camp. Last summer we were like everyone else. All spring we were thinking our camp would close like the rest of the camp. So I feel like you found out pretty early that your sleep away camp was not all our very sleep away camps were kaput. Yeah, I feel like you were the first one actually to kind of express it. It felt like a new cliff to fall off of. Right. Like so terrible. But we all still have to sleep away camp. And then slowly we started finding out that they weren’t happening. We just didn’t hear I mean, we got communication from the camp, but it was always like, hang on, when, like, we’re still figuring it out and we’re consulting the health department and the state. And then one day we just got an email that said they’re doing it. And we had already made plans for the summer as if it wasn’t happening. As you may remember, the last time I visited Slate plus we were talking about that we had rented a house in the Berkshires for the summer and our kids were planning on catching rabbits. All right. Yeah. So that’s what we were doing this summer. Anyway, so we got the email. They explained how it was going to work. It was not going to be a typical summer. Each session was going to be shorter. They were going to be all of these rules and guidelines, both in terms of what you had to do to be able to actually get to camp so no one could fly there. No international students, but also like no one from California, there was a quarantine beforehand. But the main difference between this camp and all the other camps that I’ve read about that have opened and sadly, like, scared the crap out of me because they’ve had outbreaks, is that this camp required the kids to get a test before being allowed to enter, which makes total sense. Right. It’s like the only way to be able to guarantee that it’s going to actually happen.
S1: It’s the thing that everything should be doing all the time. But that’s not currently possible in America.
S15: Right. So this was like the NBA bubble of camps, right at the tents. We had to test in advance a week in advance. And if they got a negative test and they were allowed to come and then when we showed up, I didn’t drive them. My husband John drove them, but he wasn’t allowed to even get out of the car. Everybody had an appointment time for drop off so that I was staggered when they got his his description is they showed up and it was like a lab outside. Everybody in there, like, you know, Korona contagion like outfits. Right. Whatever lab that they contracted with. And they did tests in the car. And then for the first two days of camp before they got those test results, the kids were only allowed to be with their cabins, which is like seven or eight kids. So if somebody did end up testing positive, even after already having a negative test the week prior, they would limit the damage right there in the cabin were sent home, but it wouldn’t have hopefully ideally wouldn’t have exposed the whole camp. And then once they got that round of tests back, the kids were allowed to socialize with and be around their cohort, which was like the camp was divided into basically three groups. So those three groups didn’t mix at all. But those groups were like, you know, whatever. Five cabins could all hang out together.
S1: Five sounds like they thought of everything. So I assume it went perfectly smoothly and nothing went wrong.
S15: Well, first of all, still to be determined, right? Like kids are. Oh, they seem healthy. They did send an email saying good news. We tested all of the kids who were staying in between the two sessions, which were just kids of staffers. And we tested the staff in between sessions and everyone was negative. So that seems like a good and but, you know, despite all of these conditions and regulations. I think we had to know that we were taking some risk by doing this, and it just felt like a worth at risk and, you know, and the kids had fun, I would say it was not as fun as last year, I think, because it was it was limited. It was limited who they could hang out with. It was limited and the activities they got to do.
S1: But two days with only their cabin where you could basically not do anything, right.
S15: Yeah, but I still feel like I’m definitely glad that we did it. And I’m you know, I’m thrilled that they made the effort to do it. I do not think they made money on it. Like, I have no idea. But my guess is that it’s not a moneymaking endeavor. Right.
S1: I mean, just to pay for all the quick turn around testing whoever they managed to like secure to make that happen.
S18: Right. The way they served meals and the counselors themselves had to. They got three negative tests before camp even started. And they basically had to commit to being a camp for like an additional six weeks or something than they would have.
S1: Maybe that’s a bit more than the counselors aren’t. You can’t spend a Saturday night out in the town raisin hell. You can leave the campgrounds. Yeah. Yeah. So what did you learn from this that feels applicable to like the rest of our problems? Does this teach you anything about what school is going to be like or what work might eventually be like? Or is this unresponsible?
S18: I mean, basically, that’s what I feel like. That’s the takeaway, which is that like who’s going to do this? I mean, a small camp I pull this off with probably I don’t know. But my guess is about half the kids that normally go went there was like a much smaller enrollment. Right. Both because of the travel situation and because I’m sure some parents didn’t want to take the risk. Right. How to do this in a school setting and an indoor setting where you’re going every day and then coming home and mixing with other people versus actually bubbling again, like the like the NBA bubble. Only without the talent, it feels impossible.
S1: Sorry that I was hoping you’d come up with a solution.
S15: Yeah, I mean, I would love the solution to be that our kids go to sleep away camp for the year.
S1: Yeah, I guess it’s an argument in favor of boarding school.
S15: Yeah, that’s actually really interesting. Yeah. Yeah. But I do want to say one more thing. I think part of the reason that maybe it wasn’t as fun this year was not just about how limiting how limited it was. Again, they had fun. I also think it was hard after being with us in such a kind of closed environment for such a long time to just all of a sudden just be kind of out in the world like that and that.
S1: It’s a bummer. That’s interesting, like, dude, I mean, did they just see more homesick? Did you just hear from them that that was a hard adjustment?
S18: They were more homesick. They talked about feeling like sort of lesser of kind of where where they belong, where like I think part of this is also that we’ve been displaced all summer, are living not at home. Right? Probably. But I do think parents weren’t allowed to get out of the car, so we weren’t allowed to, like, help them move into their cabins and any of, like, kind of the normal goodbye stuff. So maybe that made it harder. But I and I might be projecting. But I do feel that it was also kind of overwhelming. Yeah.
S1: After so long just just with us, I mean, what is it going to be like six months from now when I’m suddenly and finally when there’s a vaccine or whatever and I’m finally in a room with a bunch of other people and I have to socialize with all of them. And I am using these skills that have essentially atrophied and I’m not in my comfortable house with my wife and kids. That is weird.
S18: Yeah. Yeah. We haven’t gone to a restaurant yet. And I think part of it is that like I’m just like I don’t know what that’s going to be like right up to what I know. Right.
S1: Yeah. All right. Thank you, Alison Benedikte. I’m still glad they got to have this experience. I’m still fiercely jealous and all that counts. Yes, that’s right. That’s mission accomplished. All right. Talk to you next time. Bye bye.