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  • Rachel Chin

Overheard on third grade virtual school

Updated: Mar 26

My three kids have been doing remote school since August. After a short adjustment period where all of us cried at least once a day, we finally started getting the hang of this all-remote thing. I’ve come to realize the key is to have kids who love school. Luckily, two of my kids do. The third one gets to sit right next to my work desk so I can help keep him on-track.


I spend much of my worktime trying my best to ignore what is going on in my kid’s third-grade Zoom class. Which is really hard to do since there’s a lot of chit-chat, videos, songs and instruction going on. And the volume level for each of these things varies WIDELY.


Maybe the most troubling sound on my son’s class call this semester was the constant low-battery chirping of someone’s smoke detector. It went on for so long, I started to suspect it was coming from my own house. One day, after the teacher made yet another comment about it, I made my husband help me check every smoke alarm in our home to confirm that the sound was indeed *not* coming from inside our house.


In an effort to drown out the cacophony of third-grade going on behind me, I usually plug into music with my headphones. Occasionally, though, I need to tune into my son’s class to be sure he’s following along with the lesson and not mindlessly watching “Try Not To Laugh” videos on YouTube instead.


Here are some of the best things I observed this semester.


Our school has been really great about sharing lots of mindfulness info with the students. I love to see the kids following meditation videos, “deep breath in. . . deep breath out. . .” with their very serious little faces. I also like to join in.


Third-graders are usually very honest about what they see. One of them gasped during class one day, blurting out “Teacher. . . I just opened an app that I should never ever EVER be in.”


Break times are crucial for kids. One student exclaimed at 8:41 a.m. (class begins at 8:30): “Mr. Teacher, you forgot about morning break!” Teacher: “We literally *just* started class, friend, it is not time for morning break yet.”


Some kids clearly have better parents than mine do when it comes to breakfast choices. I overheard one kid whispering off-camera: “…bacon and oatmeal. . . mixed together. Yeah.”

My stomach immediately began growling like crazy after that one.


Third graders are so impulsive. One time a student interrupted the teacher during the middle of an intense math lesson, “I have a quick question – what’s a nephew?”


And one of my absolute favorites: Teacher: “How many more days until Christmas?” Student: “Uhh, I think 54,000?”


After a few weeks of remote school, our elementary began rolling kids back to in-person classes. The teachers prepped the third-graders for days about the new mask rules. Student: “What is this mask parade you keep talking about?” Teacher (sighing heavily): “It’s not a puh-RADE, friend, it’s a mask BREAK. A mask buh-REAK.”


After much anticipation and planning, in-person school lasted for a whopping two days before my third-grader’s class got quarantined. And while he was quarantined at home, his school switched back to remote-only.


Two days. That’s all the kid got. But those two days made an impression. He enjoyed his class WAY more in-person. He thought his teacher was really funny. He reeeeeeeeally wants to go back to in-person school.


Many things about remote school have improved over the semester. My kids have mastered Zoom and Google Hangouts so well, they’re scheduling their own virtual playdates now. They know their Chromebook better than I know my phone, and they’ve memorized about 47 different logins and passwords.


And now we face yet another home-bound break that I look forward to about as much as I dread.


Along with parents all over the world: “deep breath in. . . . deep breath out.”


I’m going to let my kids sleep in a bunch, and we might explore that bacon/oatmeal idea. And I’ll try my best to truly enjoy the winter buh-REAK.


Along with kids all over the world: “See you next year!”




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