Diary of the Desperate Distance Learners: Days 1 and 2

Leaving school so soon? Welcome to the Diary of the Desperate Distance Learners. (courtesy)

Day 1: We called in sick.

As the first day of “remote learning” commenced — with 150 messages on WhatsApp across three different groups (one per child) to begin the day — and no available or charged devices, we did the only logical thing we could: We told our kids they got a “sick day.”

The first day of distance “learning” descended upon 4 million Israeli students and their parents only 16 days after the start of real school. And with that, parents around the nation may have lost whatever shred of sanity had remained in their meager souls.

For a great majority of us, our children were happily floating along in capsule classrooms, masks and pools of alco-gel when all when suddenly, the government decided the school should be shuttered … the next day.

Day 2:  As we geared up after a long holiday weekend to tackle distance “learning” head on, I fired off a letter to the teachers warning them of our inevitable lack of cooperation and why:

“Thank you for your understanding. We completely understand that you as teachers have to create consistency for the students and if you didn’t, many of the other parents would complain. I feel bad for those of you who have children at home and are going through this as well. Good luck! I blame the government for this situation, not the school.

“We had a very stressful time last lockdown (in March, April) and we learned:

1. All of our kids are on different levels of learning

2. None of our kids can open a computer and connect to Zoom on their own

3. None of our kids can read their instructions for their homework

4. Neither Hebrew nor Arabic are either of the parents’ mother tongue which makes everything take a lot longer

5. We have a child with special needs who needs a sayat in school AND at home in order to learn

6. We both work and we need our phones and computers for work, so the kids cannot use our devices

7. None of our kids are independent learners and need lots of prodding to do any of their assignments.

“Because of this, their home schooling requires 100% of our time — and yet we both work full time.

“We want our kids to progress but it cannot come at the expense of our health and us yelling at them all day. Of course letting them do nothing is also a problem. We do not know what the answer is. We have no solutions and no idea how to make this better other than hire a full time tutor/babysitter/cook at home.”

Okay, I was secretly hoping that this would result in the offer of a tutor/babysitter/cook.

But we decided to forge ahead with some attempt at learning lest our children be the dumbest ones in their grades.

Maybe that was a mistake.

By 10:30 a.m., the only thing I had managed to accomplish in my my professional life was to set up four Zoom calls (one on my phone which was thrown in fury across the room by an anti-Zoom child), printed out three weekly schedules and several daily assignments, read the instructions repeatedly to said children, reviewed completed assignments, answered a dozen questions and wallowed in the confusion of which kids had what Zoom and deciphering the copious emails I had received on behalf of my children.

I lost count by 1:30 p.m.

Day 2 score:
Kid 2: 2/3 assignments
Kid 3: 1.5/3 assignments
Kid 1: 0/3 assignments
Meals: 2.5
Devices broken: 0

Clearly a winning day!

About the Author
Nicole is a long-time journalist, writer and ghostwriter of all sorts of fun articles and awesome books. She and her family live in Jerusalem. Her son tells his own stories at
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