Distance Learning Dance Party!

Why, yes, the young Earthlings over here are still distance learning, and we’re glad they’re staying home and staying safe and leaving space in the schools for the kids who more strongly need to get back in-person…but some days are difficult.

Today, there were three times in three hours when we checked on our first-grader Lydia, found her watching a video about Minecraft, were told she had “finished my work early,” and then determined that she had not done her work whatsoever. The last time, she was supposed to read an ebook and then answer one of the questions from the grid. Lydia informed me she had answered, “Is this text fiction or non-fiction; how do you know?” and her answer was, “I can tell it’s non-fiction by the title,” and it soon became apparent that she hadn’t even opened the ebook. That’s how she was “finished” 25 minutes early. Okay, cute, but you’re supposed to actually read the book! Good grief.

Therefore, when she did finish actually doing her work with 8 minutes to spare before the next team meeting, we said, “No videos! Get up and have an exercise time!” I tried to get her to climb and swing on our home gym. When she didn’t want to do that, I suggested a dance party.

This is simply a version of the Seven-Minute Stretch: Play two songs and just keep moving!

Pandora gave us “Invisible Touch” by Genesis, so I started off with a basic ‘80s dance, and Lydia did something similar for about thirty seconds before she started leaping around striking magical cheetah poses. “This is our theme song!” she said. “This is the part where we’re fighting the hyenas!”

The next song was “Abracadabra” by the Steve Miller Band, excellent for slinky yet energetic feline moves. Lydia exclaimed, “This is the music for the next scene! Close the drapes!” and she pulled out the disco ball. (Thanks to Grandma Elsa for impulse-buying a small disco ball for the kids at a highway rest stop a few years ago—it has come in handy!)

When it was time to get back to class, I carried my iPad so the music could follow her to her computer. I said, “Hurry and get to your seat before the music stops,” forgetting the long and interesting instrumental section at the end of the song! But because I’d allowed an extra minute to get her settled, we were able to enjoy every note, ending just as the teacher let her into the meeting.

Logging into class even as you’re still dancing to the end of the song might even be an educational experience in time management and multi-tasking. It’s certainly better to take an exercise break than to keep staring at the screen! This is an option kids have at home that they usually don’t get at school.

And it only took 8 minutes. I feel a lot better now, more alert and stronger and more flexible, and now I can sit at the computer again, too.

But I’m not claiming this solved the deceptive video-watching problem. While I was writing this, her homeroom class ended and it was time to log in to music class, but instead she started watching the video again. Now she gets constant parental supervision for the rest of the afternoon. It’s been a long year….

Visit Hearth & Soul for other writers’ perspectives on the possibilities of this unique time!

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