HOW I FOUND MY RHYTHM WHEN THE MUSIC STOPPED

At a time in everyone’s life, we come to find ourselves in a situation where the music stops, and we must go on.  The unfortunate truth about life is that the unexpected will happen. Some of us learn from it, some of us change because of it and some of us find our life’s calling because of it. The latter was the case for me.  After our dad picked us up from middle school, we spent that afternoon like we had every afternoon that month. We went to the oncology unit at the hospital, where my brother was admitted.

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THE MAN IN A BLUE SARONG

I remember him. I remember the man in the dark blue sarong the same way I remember the lines on back of my own hand. He was hunched over next to a column on a dirty platform at a railway station in Calcutta, India in the middle of the harsh summer sun. His hands were withered, his fingers and toes looked like tiny nubs, and he was completely malnourished and alone. He had opaque blue eyes, as if fog had taken place of his irises and pupils.

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PATIENT “OWNERSHIP”

I studied insects in college; my favorite insects were the bees (I found them diligent and so helpful to humankind).  One of my favorite classes was about medical diseases caused by insects. My professors noticed my interest in the medical side of things and connected me with a professor who did clinical research. Our work focused on a clinical trial for children with intractable epilepsy and exposed me early on to patient care and patients.

….FULL ARTICLE

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hours most of the kids are enduring with NTI.


On-line learning complaints include, it takes too long, their kids are or aren’t challenged enough, and it’s too much screen time.  With home schooling you have control of the schedule and the curriculum. Johnny wants to know more about environmental issues?  Set up a socially distanced meeting for him to interview someone from fish and wildlife. Suzie loves animals? See if one of the large animal vets will let her observe a medical procedure. You do not have to reinvent the wheel on this one.  If you want more information on this option check out http://www.bluegrasseducation.com/how- to-homeschool.html. Central KY has many great home-schooling programs. The biggest thing my home-schooling parents told me was that NTI is NOT home schooling.


Option 3: Private School

Many parents are turning to private schools with in-person and at home learning opportunities. Private schools (with their small class sizes) are structured to better perform social distance for in person learning AND on-line learning. Public school classes can easily have 22-28 kids per class, but private school classes have significantly fewer kids to manage.


The long and the short of it is, everyone needs a little something different. Some kids are thriving in NTI.  My introvert misses her friends but seems to love rolling out of bed and stepping straight into her class. (Bed head and all!). She loves staying up later and getting extra one on one time with her Dad.   

There is no right answer to this. We all must do what’s right for our families. During a time of extreme stress let us all remember to support one another, check in with each other, and remember the best examples of humanity can be seen during a time of crisis. If you have time today – check on your friends with kids.  Our stress level is thru the roof and we could all use a little extra grace    

Starting in March many parents were faced with the dilemma of educating their children from home. The last half of the spring semester was an absolute nightmare.  No one was prepared for weeks and then months of NTI (non-traditional instruction). The number of tears (from parents, students, and teachers) was more than most people could imagine.  It was very commonplace for these new homeschool parents to end the day with a good cry, a screaming match with their child(ren), or a stiff drink. We all took a breath of relief when the last day of school ended the torture that was online Learning. But now starts the next chapter in the anxiety-filled, depression laced, anger- management (or the lack there of) crisis... Welcome to NTI 2.0. Is it better than before? Yes.  It’s not great, but it’s better.


Many families are struggling with computer issues, spotty internet, and a basic lack of understanding of all the different learning platforms the kids and teachers use. If you are in this situation take a deep breath. There is no right or wrong answer.  Let your kid(s) lead the way and you will find a learning style what works for your family. Here are a few popular options…


Option 1: Educational Pods

Before school started, I created an educational pod of like-minded families.  I reached out to our kids’ friend’s parents and interviewed several teachers. We currently have six kids (4th-7th graders) that get together at our home and do their NTI work.  Everyone wears masks and sits 8-15 feet apart. The other parents and I have jointly hired

BY TRACY FRANCIS

a teacher to help the kids navigate their classes. Our teacher is amazing and there are many educators who feel they cannot go back to a regular classroom for fear of getting themselves or a loved one sick. They are out there, and they want to teach! We are integrating our own priorities into the curriculum and adding things like cooking classes, a dissection unit, foreign language, and a community art project. 


Once I got the pod organized, I reached out to my girl’s teachers to see where I could condense lessons and find ways to get them off online learning! Almost all the teachers I talked to were supportive and helped me find creative ways to decrease the screen time. In most cases electives are optional and sometimes you can find other parts of the class time that can be decreased. Both steps took some time, but as of today, we are moving in the right direction. 


Option 2: Home Schooling

Many families have decided to try out home schooling to address the educational, emotional, and time constraints associated with at home learning.  I talked to several parents who use home schooling for their families. One Mom is a retired teacher. She said home schooling takes significant less time than the current 5-7