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Homeschool Heroes: Splitting distance learning between households

Addison Killingsworth is a fifth grader at Soda Creek Elementary School in Steamboat Springs.
Courtesy photo

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — For 11-year-old Addison Killingsworth, a typical day of distance learning includes participating in her online classes, one-on-one meetings with her teachers, supplemental worksheets that her parents give her and lots of reading time. 

“Reading is every day and every night,” said her father Michael Killingsworth. “We’ve been pretty strict about that.”

The goal is for Addison, who is a fifth grader at Soda Creek Elementary School, to feel confident in her own abilities when she moves up to middle school next year. It’s a goal that both her parents share despite the fact that they are divorced and live in two separate households. 

“We made a pact that Addison was the most important thing,” Killingsworth said, “so we’re both going to do everything we can to help her succeed.”

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It is a joint effort. Both parents changed their work hours so that they could be with Addison during her school hours at home. 

“It’s a silver lining during these terrible times,” Killingsworth said. “My job has been very flexible with my hours, and of course, we’re both blessed to still be earning a paycheck right now.”

Alicia Spanhake, Addison’s mother, is a sales manager at a local lumber yard. She has switched her hours to do half days and take Fridays off so that she can spend more time helping Addison with school as well as navigating this difficult time. 

When neither parent can supervise, Addison’s grandmother, who lives in Greeley, steps in to help through FaceTime.

“It’s really a family effort,” Killingsworth said. “Addison’s uncle helps out with math and her grandmother helps out with reading and writing. I will say that we have all realized how underappreciated teachers are.”

With Addison moving between her parents’ houses, they both agree that communication is the most important thing. 

“We’re lucky that we still work well together and are friends,” said Spanhake. “Having good communication through this has been key.”

When her designated school time is over, Addison has been outside with both parents more than usual.

“We go for a walk or go down by the river,” said Spanhake. “We have gotten to spend much more time together than normal and be outside more too, which is nice.”

And while it can be difficult for every family to find balance between work, life, homeschooling and personal time right now, Spanhake notes that it’s not really about finding balance.

“This is just something that we have to do right now,” she pointed out. “Our main goal is to help Addison through this with school and beyond.”

Are you or do you know somebody who is having success at “homeschooling” children during the COVID-19 pandemic? We want to know the best way you’ve discovered to help your students while at home. Send your contact information to sophiedingle11@gmail.com and you could be featured as one of Steamboat Pilot & Today’s Homeschool Heroes.


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