A Father’s Experience With Virtual Learning

By Scott Vukoder

Middle School

I know way too much about what my kids do (or don’t do) in their free time. WAY. TOO. MUCH. After three months of being isolated together at home – both my wife and I managing our full-time work loads, and our two tween boys managing through their school-from-home schedules – we are all far too familiar with what goes on all day. And really, I wish they were more productive.


Our family’s second half of the school year

My boys, who just finished 7th and 6th grades, did not enjoy school from home. No knock on their teachers or their schools – I really think they did a fine job adjusting on the fly to keep the learning going. It was just a pretty good trial for us to know that cyber school is not for our family.

The older, more studious, was mostly independent and focused at getting his work done. But he really missed those science experiments he likes the most.

The younger, much more social of our two, really missed his friends and teachers. But he still got his work done – even if it took prompting, and encouraging, and support – and  prompting and sometimes fighting, and yelling, and occasional crying (sometimes him, sometimes us).

Gotta admit, it’s not all been rosy. And let’s be honest, the school work was not filling their whole day.


How Sylvan added productivity to their “busy” days

Their day? Or what they’d like it to be… (and what it looks like too often, because we’re busy with our own work) … Video games. Video games on the Xbox. Video games on their phone. Videos of video games. Or, when encouraged to do something different, they’d pull out the old Wii and Wii U and play video games “from when they were little.” They’re 13 & 11. I mean, really?!  Needless to say, getting them to engage in something more productive, on their own, can be a challenge.

And I’m still a little concerned about what next year might bring. My older is moving up to take Algebra in 8th grade, and the younger guy is moving to the middle school, where learning is much more independent. With the tumultuous way that this school year ended, I can’t help but wonder if they’re ready.

I’m really happy that we were able to enroll both of them in online math tutoring with Sylvan. I’ve worked at Sylvan for the almost five years, so I know the benefits of tutoring. But there’s something about seeing it firsthand with my sons! They meet several times each week, online with a math tutor, who is helping them to prepare for next year.

My older guy is strengthening his skills and getting a little ahead in his Algebra, so he can start the year with confidence. My younger guy is getting help to strengthen those fundamentals and build his math skills, so that he can be successful in the more independent middle school environment. It’s something productive!



Looking ahead to summer

Things seem to be opening up a bit around here – the swimming pool opened, so at least we can leave the neighborhood, and it looks like we’ll be able to take our vacation after all. But we’re still not sure what school is going to look like next fall. And all of the camps they had planned – scouts, basketball, STEM – they’re all still cancelled for this summer. While things remain uncertain, at least Sylvan can help my boys be a little more productive this summer.

As Father’s Day approaches, I hope that all of you dads have enjoyed this unexpected opportunity to spend more time with your kids. I know I have. I also hope it hasn’t driven you too crazy. I know, some days, for me, it has.  It’s nice to know that Sylvan is available – online, in-home and in-person at centers with tutoring, enrichment and some online group classes to help our kids be a little more productive this summer, and make up for what they might be missing otherwise.

Happy Father’s Day to all those dads out there. I hope that some productive kids mow your lawn or wash your car for you this Father’s Day!