Many students everywhere are enjoying a well-deserved summer vacation, after a school year of such uncertainty and even anxiety.
I thought of interviewing my elementary-age daughters to get their thoughts on the matter, and here is what they told me.
Was virtual learning hard or did you eventually get used to it?
PUMPKIN: It was hard in the beginning, having to learn all these complicated shortcuts with the computer, but I did eventually get used to it. The only hard part about virtual learning that was continuously difficult was being able to interact with others, since I didn’t know most of the kids at first.
PEANUT: I got used to being on the computer all the time. It wasn’t really hard.
How would you feel if you saw your virtual teacher or virtual classmates in real life? Describe that experience.
PUMPKIN: I feel it would be socially awkward if I met my fourth grade teacher or my new friends that I hadn’t known before in real life. Zoom became my new normal, so it feels natural to continue to interact with them that way.
PEANUT: It would be weird seeing them in person because I’ve seen them all the time on the computer.
How did you feel about virtual playdates? How are they different than in-person playdates?
PUMPKIN: Virtual playdates usually only happen within the classroom, which makes it hard, because we have limited time together too. My friends have made constant attempts to make meetings, but they haven’t worked the way we wanted them to.
In-person playdates are very different and way more better than virtual (by a lot), because you can get a proper experience and chat with them without dropping out, having glitchy WiFi, or having other annoying tech problems.
PEANUT: Virtual playdates were fine if they were with people I already knew in real life. Virtual playdates are different from in-person because you’re seeing them on a screen instead of being there in the moment.
How were you able to make new friends in your virtual classroom?
PUMPKIN: I originally stuck with my friends from last year–– the friends I had in person –– but then got to know others better. Usually after lunch, my class did this thing called Mix and Mingle. Someone asks a question that is open-ended for everyone to answer in random breakout rooms in Zoom (for example: ‘What’s your favorite color?’). In that way, we got to know other classmates better .
PEANUT: I don’t know, I didn’t really make new friends. I talked more with people I already knew in real life that were in my class before the pandemic.
Have you gotten used to not being around other people or do you still really miss it? In school or otherwise?
PUMPKIN: I’ve gotten used to not being around other people because for a whole year, it’s been that way. However, even though being around no one else feels sort of normal to me now, I still miss other people. They don’t even need to be in school. I could just go to a grocery store and still feel happy.
PEANUT: It feels normal to not be around others. I kind of miss being able to walk through a crowd without worrying about the coronavirus. When I went to the Farmers’ Market with our family a few weeks ago, I was excited to be there because I hadn’t seen a lot of people together in a long time.
How much more computer-savvy do you feel now from before?
PUMPKIN: I feel a lot more smarter with the computer than before. There are some things I know that Mama hasn’t known before!
PEANUT: I feel more than before because I’ve been around computers a lot in the last year!
Was your child in virtual learning this past school year? If so, how was the experience for them and your family?