Back to (virtual) school

My older kids started virtual school yesterday: grades 8, 5, and 3 (the kindergartner will start later this week, and will be attending a private school that is offering in-person classes).

They did all right with it. We are trying to maintain a positive attitude, though none of them are exactly thrilled with it. My goal is that they will be mostly self-sufficient with their work — as I am the adult who will be mostly in charge of them — so we spent some time yesterday learning how to find the links for online classes, and how to keep track of the schedule. There was one emotional outburst over a dropped Zoom call, an incident with a Chromebook running out of power in the middle of a class (lesson: these things do need to be plugged in!), and some discovered multi-tasking. Unlike this spring, they have synchronous classes most of the day. So I’ve noted when breaks occur and I am trying to get them outside and playing during those windows. Five hours a day on Zoom is a lot. I did walks with the fifth grader and third grader yesterday, and those were nice.

We did not do our usual big Target school supply run, or in-person shopping trip for back-to-school clothes. Instead, I ordered everything online, so the Amazon and Old Navy boxes are showing up fast and furious. I probably over-paid for one-off things (a plastic ruler cost $2, when I feel like it probably should have been under 50 cents) but I got deals on bulk pencils and size XS underwear. The grand total was pretty similar to previous years. I will admit to ordering some of my own school supplies, even though I’m not going back-to-anything. I love new pens. I always feel like maybe the pens will spark some wonderful idea. Same with notebooks, though at this point my supply of cute little notebooks surpasses my supply of great ideas. Do you order school supplies for yourself?

Though school is virtual, activities will be mostly starting up in person, so we will be running around a fair amount. After six months, we’re a bit rusty on getting into the minivan in a timely fashion. The 5-year-old has been wearing pajamas basically all summer, so school is going to be a bit of a change!

Photo: New markers. We only needed to get the 8-12 pack but we needed two of them, so I decided to go a little crazy…

18 thoughts on “Back to (virtual) school

  1. I am browsing pens and notebooks- none of which I need but all of which I want. But they are so pretty, so new, so hard to resist.
    What styles/brands did you end up with?

    1. @WG – For pens, I’ve really been getting into Pentel Energel liquid gel ink needle tip (0.7). I am picky about my pens!

      1. I love the energels! I recently ordered ink refills on amazon, which is great, except that the refill packs only have 1 color each, so now I have red pens with green and teal ink.

  2. How do you manage to get your kids outside?

    I am having a huge problem getting our 3 kids out to play… they’d rather read or do stuff indoors… They don’t want to play soccer, or badminton, or any other active games unless a grown-up is playing with them… which is sweet (that they want us for now) but frustrating. Sometimes my husband or I can do it, but most of the time we’ve got to work…

    1. @Natasha- no great answers to this. So far it has involved me going out and walking with them. I have to take breaks at some point anyway, so I’m attempting to time my breaks to the kids’ breaks, just to avoid general frustration.

  3. I am a school supply junkie. So bad, in fact that when my sons went to college, they found all the supplies they needed in my supply dresser. (Yes, a four drawer dresser) including a graphing pad.

    I may need a 12 step group

    1. @Susan – you may have been the person who already a ruler that had the three holes in it (so it could go in a binder…) That one struck me as kind of random!

  4. EnerGel liquid gel pens – 20 different colors.

    Kudos on the launch. As a mom, learning my way around making kids self reliant – it would be super helpful to hear how you are framing the independence! I’m also curious any surprise school wins!? My highlight is everyone is getting 10 pairs of the same socks/kid. No more matching (or mismatching as the case may be! 🙂

  5. Yes, I’m also a huge school supply junkie. I also love Gretchen Rubin’s Happier Labor Day concept, where you think about ways to make your work life happier (and I include home office/personal paperwork organization in this, too). So I usually purchase some nice supplies for myself. This year I ordered some fun pens, stickers, and bullet journal supplies from Kawaii Pen Shop.

  6. My son is back to nursery 2x a week but husband and I are WFH for the foreseeable. I did a little school supply shop as well – new turquoise ink for my fountain pen (such a satisfying writing experience), a six month daily planner as I won’t be going anywhere for a bit so can manage a bigger notebook, and some of the muted pastel highlighters. I also decided to invest in solving a few problems – my husband hunches over his laptop so I got him a laptop stand that brings it to eye height and I’m always getting tangled up in my headphone cords, so I bought some cheap Bluetooth ones.

  7. Happy back to school, even if virtual. Curious, if you don’t mind sharing: why is the 5 yo at a different school? As for pens, I’m also a big fan of Pentel Energel 0.7mm. They make me unreasonably happy!

    1. @Rinna- virtual preschool this spring was really hard. I had to sit with him constantly to keep him focused. I simply could not do that for multiple hours per day. When I found out that our local public schools were going to be starting in virtual form, I decided to pull him out and put him in a private program that was opening in person.

  8. I, too, love pens. For most of my tasks, I use the Uni Jetstream 3, which is a 0.38mm ball point pen that has all three colors in it (blue, black, red). I dig having varying colors all in one!

  9. I am the principal of a small Catholic school, and we are back in-person (with BOATLOADS of state and local health-department restrictions and mandates… but it’s worth it to have the kids in the building). I have always loved back-to-school for the new school supplies! I indulged when I went to pick up a bulletin board and bought myself some Flair felt-tip pens, Sharpies, and Paper mate Ink Joy gel pens along with the Cadillac of pencils – Ticonderoga! (I am one of THOSE TYPES that carries around 25 writing utensils in 10 different colors b/c I’m always afraid I won’t have one – or run out of ink – or want to write in different colors). And a pad of graph paper. And 3-ring binders. It has been an extremely difficult 6 months – and the summer was spent working extremely hard to formulate our plans for reentry, so I decided some new school supplies were a justified treat.
    I can’t decide on my planner, though… I use the Staples Arc system and make my own pages, and just can’t seem to figure out a weekly spread that is exactly right for me.
    If you haven’t guessed, I’m an ENFP with a very large P. 🙂

    1. @Sr Maria Gemma – so glad you have your kids back in the building! I “make” my own planner out of a notebook from Target. I have not been able to find a planner that has the exact layout I want, so rather than pay big $$ and spend a lot of time customizing one of the customizable brands, I just use a note book and set it up how I wish!

  10. I love school supplies but I just did a huge review of all the writing utensils I have and there are way too many. We moved in March and I didn’t get a chance to pack or purge so we just had the movers box everything and move it, and I’m slowly going through it all. So I am not allowed to buy ANY new pens or notebooks though that’s my weakness. Favorite pen is Pilot G2 Extra fine, black only. I love the idea of colored ink pens but never actually use them.
    One tool that has been amazing for virtual learning is our system of Echo Dots. I have reminders programmed in for both kids’ Zoom classes, snacks for the 7yo before she gets hangry, and lunch which apparently they forget to eat if no one reminds them. They listen to Alexa a lot better than us nagging them 🙂

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