This is news to no one. School at home is extra hard—for the students and the teachers (and the parents, too). We’re feeling it over here, oscillating from “this really isn’t so bad” to “this might be the absolute worst,” even with an amazing teacher. One thing that’s helped to make online school a little brighter for Hal is creating a designated space to do school, with an adjustable desk just her size, and a fun calendar we made like the one her teacher has stuck to her chalkboard. Because we could all use a little pick-me-up right now, I’m excited to team up with Smith System, a K-12 furniture manufacturer, to giveaway 50 sturdy school desks and fun chairs to create a familiar setup like school at home. Oh, and Hal and I made you a fun printable too.
This post was created in partnership with Smith System, a K-12 furniture manufacturer. When school went virtual due to the pandemic, they made their desks and chairs available on Amazon to help create the most effective learning environment at home.
Hal does school in the office, right off the kitchen and the dining room. She’s tucked just enough away to focus and close enough to ask for help (and snacks, so many snacks) when needed. Unlike the end of last school year when she sat at a toddler-sized table against a blank wall, we’ve been working hard to make her space feel more inspiring by hanging old artwork and making some new stuff, like a cool calendar (see below to download), a colorful word-of-the-month (say it with me now: FLEXIBLE), a paper pennant, and an ABCs poster.
(Side note: one thing that’s helping us stay semi-tidy is that school in a box to the right of her desk, given to her by her teacher. At the end of the school day, everything goes back in the box. Her teacher said so.)
The same day I started designing a school calendar for Hallie, she was drawing one up for herself during lunchtime. (The apple falls so close to the tree.) We ended up collaborating on the final version, making a space to chart the weather and how you’re feeling, too. You know, very important 1st grader things.
We made it downloadable for you too, to print and color. And, if you’re extra fancy, laminate for repeated use. (We’re extra fancy.) After cutting out the weather and emotions, place a little sticky tack on the back of each circle for easy day-to-day changing (or hour-by-hour if your kids are like Hal).
Before we get to the giveaway, I wanted to show you this cool chair called an Oodle that lets kids get their wiggles out while learning. That, and I also wanted to send a huge hug your way. I’ll take one right back. This is hard. I hope this desk or that calendar or this wiggly chair make it a tiny ounce brighter.
Smith System is giving away 50 desks and chairs (either their Flavor chair or Oodle) to make virtual school a little less hard. (Thank you!) The first 20 will be donated to The Family Partnership, a nonprofit here in Minneapolis focused on reducing and preventing poverty. Because if online school is hard when you’re well-resourced, imagine how impossible it is without enough. TO ENTER: Leave a comment below: 0-10, how is virtual school going? DETAILS: Giveaway is open to US residents. Ends Monday, October 26, 2020 at 10am CST. Winners will be selected at random and notified by email.
To see more of the office, head this way >
Where is the black board from?
Hi Melissa! It’s from a local to me company, Beka. I’ll add this link in the post too!
It’s “fair to mostly sunny.” Some days are a 9.5 and others are more like a 5.5, but we’re doing it and making the best of it. A silver lining is that I get to be a “fly on the wall” seeing what they are learning and it’s pretty great. 🙂 xo
School is both a challenge and a blessing! My two boys attend our local public school, which happens to be dual immersion Spanish school. I do not speak much Spanish so this adds a huge stressor for me, the overseeer!
School at home is probably a 5. There are some wins and misses. So hard!
I’d say 6 for our hybrid learning model. Definitely questioning my choice to choose an immersion elementary school in a language I don’t speak!
Hard! Full-time for this Full -time working mama. How is anyone supposed to balance that load???
That wiggle chair looks awesome!
Probably a 5?! Some days #theworst and some days are pretty good!
I would say a 6-7 most days for my 8th grader. She is pretty independent and doing ok, but the distance platform is really taking a toll mentally. On all of us. As others have mentioned, there is a large void that social interaction would normally occupy and we’re feeling it. But I am so proud of her and know I am lucky in so many ways. Good luck to all and hang in there!
We have 3 at home full time virtual (1st, 4th, and 6th) and an 8th grader 1/2 days in person, other half day virtual. It’s a full time job for a parent (esp with 1st and 4th grade), even as you say with fabulous teachers. It’s getting better every week. This week I’d rank it at a 7. Having another desk space for this group would be awesome.
Most of the time it is going okay. I am impressed with how quickly my Kindergartner has adapted. My 5th grader is much more independent but constantly distracted with YouTube (available on school laptop but not on home devices). So much of it requires letting go and having high expectations that my kids will do what they need and to limit my nagging. Beautiful moments happen, too. I love overhearing my big kid give positive feedback to a classmate on a shared poem, and the little ones just say the funniest things.
Virtual school is going better than expected – but not without meltdowns, including some from the parents.
We’re giving it a 7.5. Mostly good days but she sure misses the social parts of school with her friends and teachers. Hang in there, all!
It’s a 7. Most days are pretty good and some are complete failures. We work at our dining room table because my kids don’t have desks. This means lots of transitions for meals and snacks in addition to a bit of a mess in our family hub. A desk would certainly help keep things more centralized. Also love the idea of the bin from Hal’s teacher!
It is a balancing act with littles not yet in school and older ones with zoom calls!
Definitely depends on the kid… I’m homeschooling three of them. On average, though it’s a wash and I’d give it a 5. Thanks for the inspiration!
I will give 6 to virtual schooling. My son has ADHD and virtual learning is harder for him then in person school. He is on 11 grade already but it is hard for all of us. I have to work from home, attend college from home, do my own homework, help my child as much asI can and be a wife attending everything else that is need it at home. But that is all, and repeats every day!
I’m gonna say a solid 7 but, let’s be honest we could go from 0 to 10 and back again throughout the day. There is so many positives to being more involved with your kids and I NEED to look at this time as a blessing. Sure it can be overwhelming and there is plenty of things that we could complain about but if you focus on the good, look for the good…you somehow always see more of it! So here’s to sticky snow that makes the best snowmen and feeling super accomplished after making your hot chocolate and feeling like a super star mom for making the best hot chocolate and many, many, memories!
I’d say we are at a 7 right now. We could definitely use a desk! My first grader is doing her work at the dining room table, the couch, the floor…
About a 6 or 7. Some days are great others are harder. Am enjoying being able to watch my kids process and grow more at home though!
We’ve got a mixed bag over here. My 6th grader is doing well with virtual school, though he doesn’t love it. My 4th grader, on the other hand, is struggling. A lot!! Which means we’re all struggling. I love the idea of the moving/wobbling chair. We just ordered a personal trampoline for him as I’m anticipating the harsh midwest winter.
Hi Melissa! We’re distance learning with a first grader across the river in Saint Paul and have been doing our best to get outside a lot each day and bringing the school work outside with us, too. I’d say we’re sitting at a solid 8, but as winter approaches and we spend less time outdoors, I’m worried. Lots of grace and patience being served over here. 🙂
I have a high schooler who is asynchronous and I’m gonna say a solid 2/10.
Going ok. Much more difficult for the kids than it is for me.
I agree would give it a 6 as well.
Not too shabby, but I miss the days of asking “what happened at school today?” It’s a perfect test for determining whether we could do homeschool full time. My answer: no thank you!
I’d give it a 6!
I think a 4.5. It’s great for one kid, who’s mainly missing the social side. But the other kid is multi-tasking and watching YouTube videos all day while on zoom, then doesn’t understand why there is so much work that needs to be completed after school!
Oh the YouTube watching all day!! We’ve tried everything to block it or monitor to no avail.
On average probably a 5-6. We are just settling into a new home and place after a sudden move back to the States. So along with being flexible, we are still working on routines and rhythms. My 5th grader is eager to work and get through her math and reading so she can do the fun stuff like art and science, so every day – even the hard days feels like an 8+ with her, but my 1st grader hates school and every day feels like a 3 or below. And my poor 4yo just wants to be at the same level and ability as big siblings, and can bounce all over the place. I hope that we can find our footing soon and we can all feel a bit more balanced – maybe when all our stuff finally arrives, and we’re not sharing a small dining room table for everything, it’ll get better. But until then FLEXIBLE is definitely the name of the game every day!
I would say a 3. My 3rd grader is doing ok but my kindergartner is really struggling. 😢
A solid 7. My oldest daughter’s 2nd grade teacher was my 1st grade teacher. There’s a bit of some tech issues, mainly with the 70+ year old teacher, but my daughter and I are working through it with ease. I’m also homeschooling my preschooler and that’s a 9. She’s my “strong willed” one and I’m shocked at how much she loves learning!
I’m doing virtual school with my four year old and it is ROUGH. He has a hard time using a tablet and being on camera to a bunch of strangers (ie, his classmates, who are also four). I’m hopeful for the rest of the year. Right now, we do t have a dedicated space for him to do any learning, so something like this would be great! A place he could make his own for all the years ahead.
I’d give it a 5. It’s not my favorite but we’re muddling through.
Depends on whether we’re able to leave the apartment (easy enough) or whether we’re in full quarantine (after potential exposure) and not able to leave, even for walks (BRUTAL).
I would give it a 6 for my first grader. She misses her teacher and classmates, but Grandma is doing an A + job helping her when I’m working!
I am on the teaching end of things somewhat virtually (about half my day) and my answer swings wildly from a zero to a 9 multiple times throughout the day!! My daughter is totally a-ok, go with the flow, virtual school is fine, though!
This is so helpful! Thank you! (I can’t wait to print out the calendar–it’s just what we needed.) As an unexpectedly home-schooling preschool mama, I’d say it’s going decently. But certainly not awesomely.
Virtual Spanish Immersion Kindergarten and a new middle schooler, also virtual…it’s a dynamic school year. I’d rate it a 7 so far, going better then I expected! Ask me again in a couple of months. 🙂
Last year in March, it was about an 8 because everything was simple, but when the new year started and everything was different, I’d say a 2. At the moment with a kid in jr high and a kiddo in elementary, I would say it’s a 7. If my husband is home and not working that day, I may even say 8.
8 out of 10 most days but what a roller coaster of moods and challenges! I am thankful that I can appreciate this time with my 3rd and 5th grader.
It’s going around an 8. The teachers and kids are practicing flexibility, grace, and service hourly! But the actual school work is not the level that they experienced in the classroom and they desperately miss their friends.
9! We are having a great time. Sometimes hard to start on time.
This would be amazing to win! Our distance learning is actually going pretty well. I have a third grader, first grader, pre-k-er, and a newborn. It’s a lot, but it’s good.
Even though this is my fourth year homeschooling, it feels in many ways like a first. In fact every year does. This year my two eldest have more needs for privacy and they NEED a desk in their room to go with their noise canceling headphones I just ordered. Especially before we welcome another baby!!!
Virtual K is really something. But truth be told, when asked how school is going, my son throws his arms up in the air and yells “amazing!” It doesn’t always feel amazing but if that’s his answer, I truly can’t ask for more than that. He’s learning at a little table in our dining room and his 3 yr old brother thinks he is in K as well! But, we’re grateful for the teachers and doing our best!
Most days 8? Who knows what each day will bring though? Our kiddo’s teacher is phenomenal and making it as *flexible* as can be. It’s hardest on our toddler, who misses all the sibling time. And heartbreaking to see how much the kids miss each other. Beaming hugs and solidarity right back to everyone.
Most days an 8. Little ones just don’t have the patience or attention span! I come from a family of educators (I am not!) and I’ve always known that teachers are angels (overworked and grossly underpaid) but man—it’s even more obvious now. Sending hugs to all (parents, kids, and educators!).
7 which is up from probably a 2 at the beginning of the year so I will take it!
I’d give it a 6 for the 6 year old, a 3 for the 4 year old who is in need of his own proper work space.
The teachers are beyond amazing though and we are so grateful for their commitment to providing our littles with an education even in these trying times.
Like some of the other commenters have said, it’s going as well as can be expected! I have a second grader and a kindergartner and it’s my kindergartner who obviously needs SO much support with virtual school. My husband and I both work full-time from home (or are trying to at least), and everyday is a new adventure! Teachers are magical and ninja-like in their ability to teach, adapt and keep kids engaged! I’ll forever be grateful for teachers!!!
8 (our kinder teacher is amazing and I am so impressed by all she’s capable of teaching virtually).
Our virtual school rating depends on the day… some days I feel like a rockstar and it’s a solid 7.5 (because in-person would be best for all of us) and other days I feel like I’m arguing with my K and 3rd a lot and it feels like a 2. Today it’s a 5 because I just got into an argument with my 5 yo about gym class participation, but there’s still time to improve!
Also – I love your school space and the calendar!! Thanks for sharing. 🙂
5 – My 2nd grader belongs in a classroom and when he has to stay home (due to quarantine after a COVID exposure or when his district has to switch learning models…coming soon…) he kind of spirals. It’s so hard to impose routine at home when home is the wrong place for the routine. This too shall pass…but how? Thank you for the sweet pick-me-up Mel and Hal
We’re at an 8, thankfully. Still having at least in daily tech issue and need a more ergonomically correct setup for our 1st grader, but all in all it’s going better than we expected.
Each of my three kids are on a different level, but I’d say the average in the house is 7. Could be much worse! A little space that feels more like school would be so helpful.
Virtual school has its challenges. I do enjoy getting to see some of their favorite teachers in action. But I miss all of the social benefits that time with their peers provided. The kids are so resilient though…adjusting to these changes so well…they inspire me.
Our rating is probably a 6. Lots of room for improvement and a little desk and wiggle chair just her size would probably help so much!
I’d give it a 5, at least it’s better than nothing. But virtual school is hard! The days we have in person school are so much better. Maybe it would help if we had a dedicated space with a desk and chair made for learning. You made a cute work space!
We school at home on the regular but desks are a bonus for some alone time! Today we are at 8!
School has been challenging. It has been really hard to keep everyone organized and on task. Luckily my son seems to be adapting better than myself!
Today? An 8. Tomorrow, could be a 3! Mostly 5-6ish. My 5th-grader DEFINITELY a prefers an audience of his peers, as I do not laugh as much at all the fart jokes.
Online learning is a six at house, getting easier everyday:)
This week, distance learning is going 7 out of 10, because the routine feels stable-ish, finally, but still really hard. Like the usual juggle of kids and work life, but at a significantly increased magnitude. Making a dedicated space is so critical, for kids and grown-ups. That said, I am yearning for a return to school and simultaneously losing hope that it will happen this year.
School is going ok-maybe a 7 for my oldest. My youngest has severe adhd so we are doing our best to expose him to reading every day.
Today, school at home is about a 7. Excited about this calendar!
School is going pretty well, but one of these desks would make it even better!
I’ll give it a 3 on bad days and a 10 on very good days! Friday’s are the best! 😂 We use our dining table but a desk and chair would be great!
I would say 5???
7 For the most part we are doing great!
I would say a 5. I also have a first grader (boy) and while we’re plugging away at reading and math, he is missing the in-person social time and open ended recess time.
Virtual School is going as well as we can expect it to. The kids seem to have adjusted but everyday is a new adventure and sometimes it is just HARD.