Staying “Sane and Happy” Through Distance Learning

An Interview with Amber Compton Samol ’00
When she is not organizing the logistics of feeding up to 200 hospital workers each week, Account Executive for Susan Gage Caterers, Amber Compton Samol ’00 is homeschooling - or as she clarified, attempting to homeschool -  her daughters, Juliette, 5 and Colette, 3. Like so many of our alumnae, Amber is juggling working from home while tackling a new skill - distance learning. “For the first week, we were all over the place,” Amber admitted. “I had high hopes of setting a schedule that would be predictable but anyone with small children knows that’s never how it works out.”

Instead, Amber adjusted her mindset and set a new goal - have her girls engaged in learning at least until lunch time. Luckily, Amber’s mother is a retired Montessori School teacher and is “a huge help”. After breakfast, Amber sets the girls up on a video conference with their granny where they do a science project together and practice reading to one another. Amber is also extremely grateful to her daughters’ teachers who provided all sorts of activities for their students to take home before schools officially closed. 

“I also realized I had to be more intentional about learning opportunities,” said Amber. Even household chores provide a chance to learn new things. She started by showing the girls how to water the plants and make their beds but soon, Amber’s eldest, Juliette, was asking to take out the recycling and wash dishes. “The longer we do it, the more responsibility my eldest wants.” In addition to learning, Amber tries to make sure the girls get enough physical activity and is grateful to have a backyard. As a family, they are raising  ladybugs and butterflies, and cook together when they have the time but, Amber says, “there is still a lot of play time - that’s usually when they destroy the house”.

Of course, there are other obligations to take care of while Amber is working from home. She says she gets most of her work done in the mornings or when the girls have the occasional“quiet time” in the afternoons. Luckily, Amber recognized early on the importance of doing something for herself and carves out the time each morning for an at home workout. As an added bonus, her eldest often joins in to get some early energy out! 

When asked what advice she would offer other parents learning how to manage distance learning for the first time, Amber says, “It will get better. Whatever you have to do to maintain being calm and reassuring to your kids is more important than how much time they spend on an iPad or what time they go to bed. It’s ok to let them push the boundaries a little to help everyone get through this. We’ve eaten more candy, and had more ice cream and screen time in the last six weeks than we have in the last two years - and it’s ok! Do what you have to do to stay sane and happy. Be kind.”
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