A family’s (almost) snap decision to switch to online learning: Part 2

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Posted on: 27 Aug 2020

“Mom, Sam isn’t grumpy anymore. He seems happy.”

Making the decision to pull Sam out of school in the middle of a term and enrol him at Valenture Institute three weeks after his Junior High classmates had started was hugely stressful. But we Gootkins are not known to vacillate about long, drawn-out decisions. To illustrate: the first time Rael tried to ask me to marry him was 17 days after we started dating. (Although it wasn’t until 13 days later that I let him finish the sentence.)

READ PART 1 here.

So, once we’d decided that Sam would leave his brick and mortar school and enrol in a brand new online school that had only been open for three weeks, we shifted swiftly into action mode. By the time Sam came home from school on Monday the 10th of February – exhausted and depleted as he always was after a day at school, he was surprised (and not just a little relieved) to hear that he wouldn’t be returning to what had just become his old school the next day. Rael and I had spent the day chatting to Adam, the admissions officer, filling out the application form, paying the deposit, and providing all the relevant documents. I was in full scale action mode. 

Ticking off action points at the speed of light is one of the ways I cope with the anxiety that often visits like an uninvited guest. That day it kept me from second guessing our decision and playing the options over and over in my mind. With the benefit of the experiences of the last six months firmly entrenched in my mind, it is hard to recall just how difficult those few weeks were – for me anyway. 

Sam received his login details on Tuesday afternoon, spent the rest of that day and the next catching up the essentials, and by Thursday morning he was ready to join his Baobab classmates in their live sessions. A week later he was completely up to speed, had submitted all the outstanding assignments and written the baseline assessment tests. And just like that he joined the first ever cohort of Valenture Institute Junior High students – and we became intrepid pioneers.

For me, the transition wasn’t quite as smooth. Although I had no doubt that we had made the right decision for Sam, I felt a sense of loss. Loss of his connection to the friends he had grown up with, loss of my connection to the mothers of the friends he had grown up with, loss of my idea of what his teenage years would look like. 

That sadness stayed with me for quite a while after the move and then slowly receded as I watched my son relax to the point that my eleven-year-old daughter, Billie, said: “Mom, Sam isn’t grumpy anymore. He seems happy.”

Seeing him sitting in casual clothes at his PC with his earphones on a weekday morning, the webcam aimed at his face, chatting comfortably with his teachers and classmates, I realised she was right.  

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