Being stuck at home doesn’t have to mean being alone. Fairhaven School parents reflect on their families’ experiences at home during the school closure:
- How have your children been coping with staying home from school these past couple of months?
Crystal: Honestly, much better than I anticipated. After five years of Fairhaven, they are already used to organizing their days and prioritizing activities they find enjoyable. They would rather be at school, but they aren’t struggling.
- What do your children miss most about not being at Fairhaven?
Glenn: The woods for sure! With the deep interaction in Happy Corp fundraising, I think she seemed to start to find her way at Fairhaven. In Happy Corp. she was part of a group that staked out one of the villages in the woods. This became the subject of almost every drive back home before the shutdown, and she has mentioned several times since that she misses the woods.
Shari: She misses the art room and not having to be quiet all the time during the day. Her dad is working from home (which is what he always does, but usually not with us in the house), and we don’t have a great separate space for him, so we we need to have a level of noise in the house that is not too intense. As for the art room, we have bought her some additional art supplies, but we definitely can’t match what is available at school!
Crystal: The people and the property. They miss gathering with their friends in person and being able to explore campus.
- What are some activities (art, cooking, reading, outside) that you and your family have been doing? Anything new?
Shari: She has been spending a lot of time on art. That’s not unusual, but she has definitely increased the time. She and I took a bike ride together today, which is something that we haven’t done in a long time. Getting outside has been a little hard, since our community is crowded and people are treating social distancing guidelines with varying degrees of seriousness–it is hard to maintain appropriate space.
Kate: We have been baking and I have been delegating more cooking to them. We did a couple of paper models and have been going on walks together more often. One of them has been teaching me how to play video games which can be frustrating for him. Of course, that has been a lesson for him too…. in patience.
- In what ways have your children been involved in Virtual Fairhaven School? What is your opinion of how the online structure is going?
Glenn: My child has been involved in many of the online activities including: Life Death and Everything in Between, Conspiracy Theories, Yearbook, D&D, Yoga, Creative Writing, and more…. She loves these activities and on days with only a few sessions or low participation, she is bummed. I also feel that she has interacted with many students whom she would not have otherwise gotten to know so soon. I think this will probably result in much more engagement with people when she returns to campus.
Shari: She has been involved in VFS quite a bit. She regularly attends morning hangout and lunch bunch, and she especially enjoys the doodle lunches. She’s doing some Lego sessions, as well, and she is in a D&D group.
Crystal: Both girls attend Virtual Fairhaven every day. At first I had to force–I mean, encourage them to look at the online options. VFS is so different from FS and they were hesitant to give it a try. Now, they both look forward to attending and I’ve been very impressed by the thoughtfulness that’s gone into planning the schedule.
- Have you joined any online meetings or events–if so, which ones and what do you think of them?
Glenn: The Talkabout Student Panel and just in passing during sessions once or twice, but based on her engagement and chats in-between, I would say everyone is doing a good job and adapting quickly.
Kate: I joined in a Fairhaven meeting or two. I was on the one just before VFS was launched and one after as well. It was probably the most interaction I have had with other Fairhaven parents since the boys started in November. I wouldn’t mind virtual meetings in the future.
Crystal: I’ve been to COVID Relief Committee meetings, the Assembly meetings and a Talkabout. All were useful and made me feel included and connected to the school community.
Shari: We attended the Assembly meetings.
- Have there been any positive outcomes to having to stay at home with your family?
Shari: We have had a lot more family time than usual, and we’ve been spending more time just being together. We’ve been working our way through several TV series that we’ve enjoyed in the evenings. We’ve eaten almost all of our meals at home, and most of them have been homemade. I think we’re all getting more sleep than usual. She and I have been enjoying doing crafts together, too. I think the slower pace of life right now has been beneficial.
Glenn: My child has gone from a very timid bike rider to one with confidence. I think the time with fewer cars on the road and her desire to keep her distance from others, by staying off the normal bike trails, has allowed her to get comfortable riding on streets and the confidence required. We have ridden by places she looks forward to going on her bike when things reopen.
- What advice do you have for fellow Fairhaven parents at this time?
Crystal: (Strongly) encourage your child to give VFS a try! It’s not the same as the brick and mortar school but I think they will probably be pleasantly surprised. It’s a great way to stay connected to staff and other students.
Kate: If you are able to, try to make the most of this time when schedules are relaxed. Be grateful that you are not having to do the online school that is offered by the public school system right now. From what I hear from other parents, it is pretty stressful. We are living through a historic event and that in itself is a learning experience. And don’t watch too much news. You will go crazy.
Glenn: Have your children check things out on Virtual Fairhaven if they are not yet involved! I bet at least one of the sessions would appeal to them. Hang in there, weather is getting nice and some outside time should take some of the pressure off… until the release valve starts to open slowly back toward normal.
Shari: The only advice I can think of is to remember to give yourself and others grace right now. Everyone is on edge, and people are coping in different ways. I have been home since April 1st, and I’m not able to work from home. I had thought I’d be able to do lots of big projects, but the reality is that I’m getting some stuff done, but mostly I am just keeping us alive–food, clean clothes, and extra time and attention for my child, who is definitely feeling the stress of this whole situation. It’s okay just to survive.
All told, I think the adjustment has gone fairly well. I’m really grateful for VFS adding some structure and companionship to my daughter’s days. Our lives don’t look anything like I expected they would right now. We haven’t seen her grandparents (my dad and stepmom) since January, which has been hard–they had planned to be here for her birthday. It was on a Monday, and it was tough to figure out how to make it feel special for her. It will be good when we can get back to some semblance of normal!