Remote learning then and now: Why it’s gotten easier for this family

By Tara Drinks on Oct 02, 2020

Remote learning was rocky last spring, but it’s running smoothly now for Lee Ann Small and her three school-age kids. What changed? Her kids, who are taking more responsibility for school.

Melody, Noelle, and John Isaac all learn and think differently. Melody is in 10th grade, Noelle is in ninth grade, and John Isaac is in fourth grade.

At certain points, Lee Ann homeschooled each of her kids. But when the shutdowns began, the three were in different private schools that had different approaches to distance learning. This took getting used to, both for the kids and for Lee Ann.

This fall, Lee Ann is less hands-on and doesn’t have to juggle between everyone’s schoolwork. She now gets to focus mainly on her youngest. And she has her older kids to thank — especially Noelle. Lee Ann is relieved that things have improved and is proud of her kids’ progress. 

Here, Lee Ann Small tells her story to writer Tara Drinks.


When it comes to deciding whether or not to homeschool our kids, my husband and I have always taken it year-by-year and child-by-child. This time around, Melody and Noelle are in private schools and John Isaac is being homeschooled. Everyone is learning from home. 

All three of my kids get accommodations. Melody has dyslexia, dyscalculia, and slow processing speed. She’s allowed extra time on tests and isn’t graded on spelling unless it’s an English test. 

Noelle has an intellectual disability and attends a school for students with special needs. She also has ADHD. John Isaac has dyslexia and ADHD. He meets with a dyslexia interventionist three times a week. 

Communicating with Melody’s and Noelle’s teachers has been fairly simple. Melody has always been one to advocate for herself and tell her teachers what she needs. And with her new school, I’ve had little interaction with the school and teachers. 

Noelle is in a high school–level classroom with her teacher and an assistant teacher. I’m able to email or text the teacher whenever we come across a challenge. 

Keeping track of their progress has been easier, too. With Melody, there’s an app where her grades are posted so that I can see. And with Noelle, her progress reports are emailed to me. 

I have to say, I’m really proud of my kids for how they’re adjusting. I know distance learning hasn’t been easy at all. Noelle has really stepped up to the plate. She’s proactive now and completes her assignments on time. I’m really grateful distance learning is going smoothly for us now.


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    About the author

    About the author

    Tara Drinks is an associate editor at Understood.