Donum Dei Distance Education: A Day in the Life with First Grade
The mad rush to get out the door looks different these days. The rush is still there (at least in our house!), but instead of out the door and down the street, it’s down the stairs and to the iPad. If you would have asked us before March 14 if 2020 would involve schooling Ellie in our home, I would have looked at you with utter shock and bewilderment. But alas, God, in his wisdom, has brought our family together to do nearly everything in our home. I don’t know about you, but I feel immensely grateful for the ways that Donum Dei has supported our family in this transition. In a matter of days, they reoriented their entire teaching model to facilitate distance education for our 39 students. And if this didn’t seem like a big enough feat, they also found a way to welcome and orient new families into our school who found themselves “up a creek without a paddle” (to quote my dad) when it came to educating their children in the midst of a pandemic. Our leadership has pivoted at various points in response to the evolving needs in the midst of online education. It truly is a rich blessing to be a part of this great academy!
Although these new normals and rhythms in our home can feel foreign and challenging at times, I have also felt deeply encouraged to witness firsthand the culture of Donum Dei. To hear Ellie sing her morning meeting song in the other room, swaying side-to-side as she sings, “We praise the Lord our God for all His daily love. It fills our hearts with joy to honor in all,” literally fills my own heart with joy! As I hear and watch her interact with her teacher and classmates, I am filled with gratitude at the ways their hearts were knit together in their own classroom before they were only seeing one another on a screen. These touchpoints of familiarity and routine have been means of grace to us in these trying times.
I have also enjoyed the time it has given our family to slow down together. We are practicing being present with one another and learning to extend grace and forgiveness when we mess up. This has felt challenging at times as there are very few opportunities for absence to make our hearts grow fonder. :) We are all learning how to be productive in spurts, allowing ourselves to be interrupted at any moment. We are baking more together, and therefore, exercising more together. We are enjoying the small moments such as sunshine and warmth, a meal eaten outside, afternoon tea, a post-dinner dance party. Interspersed between Ellie’s five 30-minute classes are times for us to read together, write a letter to a friend, play outside, practice the piano, or catch up with a friend. During some of her breaks, she stays online with her classmates, vying for the coveted co-host role. We are truly living in a new normal, and a routine that once felt foreign is now all-too-familiar.
I thought about including a specific schedule of our days, but we’ve found that this season of pandemic is teaching us to hold our plans and expectations for the day with open hands. For a planner like myself, this is a struggle! As time marches forward, we are learning that our ability to absorb disappointment is diminished. These moments offer us the opportunity to take things a little slower, to give room for grief or anger or disappointment to come forward in measured — or unmeasured! — spurts. It’s challenging, for sure, and providing plenty of space for grace to fill in the gaps. May we be a community that embraces the grace that is given to us in Jesus as we seek to partner in new ways with Donum Dei in the education of our children. And as the soil of our hearts and homes are tilled for sowing, may we find that we are bearing fruit in our season. Brittany Yeager