'Complicated': Working mom with multiple kids survives eLearning

’Complicated’: Working mom with multiple kids survives eLearning

SOUTH BEND, Ind. - Thousands of parents were thrust into online learning almost overnight last March but what about parents with multiple kids of different ages and grades? How are they dealing with the transition? 

Our Learning Curve team spoke with Jessica Rupert who not only has a full-time job,  but is also the mom of several kids doing virtual learning at home. Hear how she is dealing with her new role as a full-time mom, employee, and now teacher.

When asked to describe this last school year in one word, 8th-grader Arianna Hooks said "complicated." 7th-grader Preston Rupert said “computer.” And 7th grader Cayden Hurstel said "COVID”

Those 3 C’s have quickly become the new way to describe this past school year.

"When it first started, it was mostly like busywork, they were done in an hour. And it was not a big deal at all," Jessica Rupert said.

But this South Bend mom said when this past fall came around... a lot changed.

"It was a lot harder. Starting in the fall realizing how many different things I had to do at once, and even just getting it all on schedule," she said.

Figuring out virtual learning with one student is hard but imagine figuring it out with half a dozen.

"We have six kids, five to six of them are in the house each day," Rupert said.

With almost every child in a different grade level, ranging from Kindergarten to 8th, schedules became chaotic.

"A lot of the meets are at the first few weeks were overlapping each other and they're like fine which class to go to, like, I don't know either," she said.

When asked if being a full house of siblings is difficult, the answer was resounding.

"It's kind of easy but not always," 3rd-grader Rosabella Rupert said. "Sometimes Levi's loud.”

“I am not loud at all," Kindergartener Leviathan Rupert said.

To 8th-grader Arianna Hooks, loud is an understatement. She has a better word.

"It's chaotic. Yeah, it's chaotic, it can be loud. You can get into arguments a lot easier. Yeah, lots of different like if you don't like have headphones anything to teach us," she said. "It's just like all over the place you know and it's not normal.”

"Try to keep it separate but after a while, they do start talking to each other especially when they have breaks in between. And then they get distracted they end up missing things," Rupert said.

But how do they deal with the distractions?

“Ignore it. No. Yeah," Preston said.

“Ignore it. Act like I’m not there," Rosabella said.

“I think we're kind of just used to it," Arianna said.

And sometimes anger comes into play.

“All the time. Yeah," she said.

Initially, mom thought the kids would be going back to school. But like everything else during COVID, that plan went out the window.

"It was not a decision I could make. In the beginning, it was just completely eLearning. They recently introduced hybrid learning, where they go two days a week to school every day," Rupert said.

And going hybrid hasn’t been easy either. With half the kids on a hybrid plan and the other half only online, each day has more unique challenges.

"Just sometimes waking people up in the morning I get them I'm like come on we're all going to school. Nope, just kidding. Only you three are going to school today," she said.

On top of being a full-time mom and worker, Jessica now is taking a role as ‘teacher’ in her kids' lives.

“I mean the teachers do so amazing and getting everything planned out, but it is hard because they're not right in front of them. So kids are constantly mom, how do I do this and on how to do that," she said.

“I can't really communicate with my teacher," Rosabella said.

"It's a lot easier to miss assignments," Arianna said. "It can be harder to sometimes because it's like, we don't have a teacher to ask questions as much, and it's kind of just an assignment and do it."

Unanswered questions leaving the kids having to rely on mom.

“Yeah. A lot of the time yeah, cuz it's like, and then sometimes we don't even have meets to talk to them at all," Arianna said.

And not only is mom a teacher, but also a student.

Learning everything from math and English to even new languages alongside her kids.

“I actually downloaded Duolingo to try to learn the basics I could get him through some of the instructions," Rupert said.

Doing a job she never thought she would have to, just hoping her kids are getting a quality education.

"Now that they're doing half here and half at school, I know what they're doing here. When I see it on their google classrooms on their laptops. I'm like, oh, you didn't do this assignment, no I did that at school. And I'm like, I hope you're telling me the truth because I can't tell anymore," she said.

This family, like many others, can’t wait for school to be back in session.

“I kind of just want things to go back to how they were," Arianna said.

“I feel like they get more out of it that way," Rupert said. “I feel like there's less frustration, they have more somebody that knows fully what the, what they're talking about."

Rupert said being overwhelmed is all too familiar but she is surviving and so are her kids.

“All the time," she said. "Just keep pushing through it.”

Now Rupert said that if she had the choice, all of her kids would be in-person except for perhaps Preston the 7th grader who is thriving in online schooling.

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