Nikko W. Naugle (Contributed photo.)

Nikko W. Naugle (Contributed photo.)

My four-month spring break | A 9-year-old’s perspective on the pandemic

by Nikko W. Naugle

I never asked for this pandemic. I never asked for isolation, shut down stores, and all this worrying and even fighting that people are doing. I simply don’t like it. I’m just an innocent nine-year-old writer who is living out the pandemic doing school work (every morning), reading (every day), writing (as much as possible), skateboarding (every chance I get) and computer programming (often). Despite all of the awesome educational resources I have at home, I miss going to school and hanging out with my friends at lunch while challenging each other to see who can eat the most homemade horseradish sauce, playing cone steal in PE (stealing all four cones from the other team — don’t get caught!), and sharing class activities such as Flashlight Friday where you bring a flashlight for lights off during silent reading. I can’t enjoy computer programming and coding with my friends in the library nor playing tag at recess.

Now it’s all computers because the school has hundreds of them that they gave to students to use during the pandemic. I can see my friends on group chats, but can’t slap a high five with anyone when they score a goal in soccer or when they jam some awesome code and make a popular computer game. No giving hugs when you see each other. No patting someone on the back when they exhibit good sportsmanship. When this pandemic ends, if it ends, I’m going to go to school and slap high fives all day long.

I am so happy when I now get to talk to a few classmates and my third-grade teacher, Mrs. Jenny Johnston, twice a week through Google Meet. Mrs. Johnston shared, “I go from being incredibly sad about missing my students and the energy they give me, to being super excited about learning creative ways to teach them virtually…and back and forth like that all day long, day after day”. She also surveyed some of my classmates who shared these quotes about how they feel:

“I’m bored.”

“I feel sad and angry and scared at the same time.”

“I’m not sure how I feel, but I know I’ve never felt it before.”

“I wake up and get excited about going to school and seeing my friends. Then I remember there is no school and I just want to go back to bed and cry.”

“I’m lonely.”

While the pandemic has not necessarily made me sad, learning that my friends feel this way does make me sad. It also helps me appreciate my little brother Orion who is five-years-old. With all the time we have been spending together, we fight much less and get along much more! I wish everyone could have a little brother like him.

Today, I am going to tell you how this pandemic affects my daily life and what I am doing to live through it.

My schedule

My morning schedule hasn’t changed much. I still get up between 6-7am and often do some of my online work in bed, read or write. Then I eat a yummy vegan breakfast, organize myself and my school materials, and start homeschool with my parents at about the same time I did at OIES. Sometimes when I get up, I start to get ready to go to school and forget that I am now homeschooled.

I start my homeschooling by checking my to-do list, calendar, and email for communications from my teacher or friends, and reviewing my teacher’s awesome website that she made especially for us to share assignments, video math lessons and fun activities. OIES also has a school webpage (https://sites.google.com/orcas.k12.wa.us/oies-online-portal/home) made for students to be able to find all their school-related resources and required tasks. Depending on the day, I might have a virtual meeting with my teacher and a few classmates (twice a week) or my music teacher Mrs. Wright (once a week). I do online educational programs for both math and reading, write stories, and complete other activities like reviewing multiplication tables or working on my cursive handwriting. This usually takes me between 3-4 hours with breaks for snacks, helping my brother with technology, checking in with my parents who help me with correcting completed assignments or monitoring the birds at our three feeders. Sometimes I just lie down. When I get all of my work done, then we get to go to the skatepark sometime in the afternoon!

My family is a great support in helping maintain this healthy schedule. And that support from my family is really meaningful and important. Thank you!

Exercise and nature

In our house, we make exercise and getting outside a priority. Almost every day if it’s sunny (thankfully, there has been a lot of sun on Orcas this spring), I go to our local skatepark. Located in Buck Park, the skatepark is an unsupervised park for skaters young and old. Santa brought Orion and me skateboards and pads for Christmas this year, and, after the rainiest January on record, we’ve been trying to go every day to learn how to skate. A nice skating community of friends has developed for me and we have fun while keeping the six-feet rule in mind: no high fives when your peer drops into the highest part of the bowl for the first time, no patting someone on the back when they land their tailwhip or kickflip. It’s my only socialization that has helped me see friends and make new ones while serving as my primary source of exercise.

Skating teaches me to set goals then practice every day to achieve them. I am learning so fast and it makes me feel like I am soaring! Because of skating, I get my schoolwork done faster and better when it’s sunny and I know that the concrete is dry. Orion and I beg to hang out at the skatepark; it’s become a part of us. Our record for skating is four and a half hours!

Since running club and swimming lessons with Susie were canceled, sometimes we jump off the bridge in Moran State Park and swim back to shore, go on a small run or bike ride or hike Turtleback. My parents have been planting more in the orchard/garden this year, but I prefer to read in my hammock at Reading Point on our estuary than dig in the dirt.

We had a nesting pair of Canada geese that we monitored as the pen sat on the nest for about 4 weeks. It was at the end of the path from our house to the beach and the cob was very aggressive if we got too near the nest. About five days ago, the goslings hatched and we have four fuzzy cuties right outside the door! We now have about five pairs and 20 goslings hanging out in our neighbor’s yard, swimming in the pond, and walking on the beach. After our pen abandoned the nest, we could see that there was another egg that was a dud. Boy did that nest stink!

Me time

I like to have some space for just me for computer coding, reading, pleasure writing, checking out cool add-ons for Google Docs, playing games such as Minecraft, Roblox and Skiddy Car, surfing the Internet, maybe even crocheting for a bit…basically whatever I want for fun, fun fun! That is usually after I finish my schoolwork. It helps me calm down sometimes.

Fun, fun fun!

Assuming I get my schoolwork done, the afternoon is FUN, FUN, FUN! Computer programming, writing, biking with my brother, reading in the hammock, jumping on the trampoline, combing the beach, swinging, walking on stilts…with my free time, there is so much to do in the afternoon.

Online resource education recommendations

Do you wonder what online resources I use for school? Here, I will recommend some that you might like for your kids. If you don’t want to hear this, skip to the next section.

ST Math. ST Math is a nice math game for kids where you have to solve math puzzles to successfully get JiJi the penguin across the screen without making mistakes, or you lose a life! http://www.stmath.com/

Raz-Kids. Raz-Kids (properly called Reading A-Z), is an online reading program where, to complete one book, you must listen to it, read it, and take the quiz. You earn stars for each task that can be cashed in to update your avatar and buy various furniture, robots, aliens and plants for your RazRocket, which is your rocket home! http://www.readinga-z.com/ .

Scratch. Scratch is a free website that teaches you computer programming to make games and publish them for anyone in the world to see. http://www.scratch.mit.edu/.

Codecademy. Codecademy is a programming site much like Scratch, though a bit more advanced. In Codecademy, you learn topics like HTML, Javascript, and more. You can take courses in Codecademy, unlike Scratch. http://www.codecademy.com/.

Epic!. Epic! is a reading program similar to Raz-Kids. You read books to earn points for updating your avatar, but unlike Raz-Kids, there are videos, including some pretty cool Minecraft videos. But don’t get too excited, because Epic! is really meant for reading. In my class, you are only allowed to do videos on Wednesday. https://www.getepic.com/

My kindergarten brother is also working with Khan Academy: http://khanacademy.org/.

Bits of gratitude

Thank you to my parents, my editors, teachers, and business partners (http://www.yourveganfamily.com/) for doing all the extras during the COVID pandemic, and thanks to my teacher and her husband, Mrs. Jenny and Mr. Don Johnston, for editing, keeping our class going even through these hard times and so much more. Mrs. Johnston is an amazing teacher and website designer! And thanks to my dear readers who are complimenting me on my articles.

Thanks for reading, and I hope these recommendations and encouragement will give a good tone to your day and help you in some way if you are having a difficult time.

“A work schedule, some sunshine, and a little time to do the things you love is a good formula for keeping your spirit in check,” says my teacher. You can find my website with book reviews, interviews, stories, fun ideas and more at https://nikko.mykajabi.com/.

Nikko W. Naugle signing off.