By Charlotte Stodtmeister | Kids’ Perspective

I don’t even know where to start. My feelings about distance learning change, sometimes daily. Last year, when we did not return to school after spring break, I was excited about the idea of a few more weeks of vacation; but those few extra weeks turned into the rest of the school year, which turned into an endless summer, with little to do and no friends to play with. Boredom and frustration quickly overpowered the sense of excitement that I felt at first.

My dad is a family physician who has lost patients to COVID-19, and both he and my mom feel strongly about the importance of proper social distancing. Since March, our family has limited social contact to just a few people who are also limiting their contact to just us. Our social bubble is tiny. While I know that social distancing and wearing a mask is important to keep ourslves and others safe, I wish that it would end. I want to see my friends again. I miss playing sports and having play dates. I miss being able to see without steam from my mask fogging up my glasses. I miss leaving the house to see different faces and experience new things without my little brother as my constant companion. I miss seeing kids my age. 

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Despite the strictness of my parents in social distancing, my family has been trying to keep it interesting. Since March, my grandma has sent me Amazon packages filled with books every single week. By the end of August, I had read over a hundred books. It is more than that now, but I have lost count. My parents have also tried to keep life fun. We spent our canceled Santa Cruz vacation money on backpacking gear and hiked and camped a lot this summer. I also went to the drive-in movies and learned to make cookies on my own. There were definitely happy moments in spite of the loneliness and boredom. 

When summer break ended, my parents were not comfortable sending my brother and me back to in-person school, so they enrolled me at North Star Online School. Fourth grade has been academically challenging, for sure; but more than that, adjusting to schooling at home has been hard. My only classmate is my 6-year-old first-grade brother. Recess consists of going to the kitchen for a snack and reading my book. PE includes doing a workout video with my mom and brother, walking around the neighborhood with my mom and brother, or occasionally riding my bike or rollerblading at a park with my mom and brother. Always with my mom and brother. And while I love my mom and brother, sometimes I just need a break.

KEEPING DISTANCE: Fourth-grader Charlotte Stodtmeister loves the together time she’s had with her family during the pandemic, but she’s really looking forward to the day she can once again be with kids her own age. Courtesy photos

On the other hand, I am happy to be going to online school because I know it helps keep me safe from catching and spreading COVID-19. Also, I like that I have learned more at North Star than at any other school I have attended. (It sure beats the experience I had with distance learning after spring break last year, which was a disorganized mess and a waste of time.) At home, I have a great teacher: my mom. She is very smart. I love being with my family all day, but I am really looking forward to missing them when I go back to school and being excited to see them again at the end of the day.  

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