Off and on for a few years, my two kids have asked to be home schooled.

The topic usually came up when they had had a bad day at school.

My reply was always the same: I scoffed, knowing there was no way I would be able to teach them at home for a whole school day.

Besides, I’ve had a full-time job for years that helps pay the bills. Home school was not an option.

But now, with coronavirus having spread across the globe, learning at home is no longer a choice.

Schools have already rolled out, or will soon roll out, distance learning while we are adhering to social distancing and a new way of life in hopes of stopping the spread of this virus.

My daughter, 9, is especially excited about the prospect of learning at home.

My son, almost 12, isn’t thrilled with the idea of school in general, but is happy to hear he will join other New Milford students in finishing up the school year before June 30, once the distance learning rolled out in the district Wednesday, March 25.

After I finished putting out the first Spectrum remotely March 17, I mentally prepared myself — well, sort of — for a trial run of school with the kids.

On March 17, Eleanor arranged “desks” and chairs in our living room, set up a teacher’s desk and chair for me, labeled a bin with “finished work” for completed assignments, set up student and teacher pencil boxes, placed a dry erase board on my desk and put out a small an American flag for the “Pledge of Allegiance.”

I think she considered our school time more as play, but the reality is, this way of life will be the new “normal” for the foreseeable future.

Gov. Ned Lamont announced Monday Connecticut public schools will be closed at least through April 20 but hinted the next day schools could be closed until fall.

Here we go

On March 18, I assumed my seat in the teacher’s chair and kicked off our own trial days of school to give the kids — and myself — some sort of structure.

After the Pledge and a welcome, the kids read about the coronavirus in health; reviewed the latest emails from their respective principals and Superintendent Dr. Kerry Parker; completed math problems I made up; discussed healthy eating and meal planned; did a few chores; took a walk for PE; and took a field trip to drop off a care package to a loved one.

All in all, it was a good first day. I was proud it worked out, and to be able to get my day job done, too.

It’s far from a fail-proof system, though.

By day two, the teacher showed up over an hour late for the start of school (what can I say? I slept in); one student held his head in his hand and stormed off to his room, saying “I quit school” when I announced it was reading time; and the other student ran out of the classroom during music after being told to “quiet down” because she was singing, unaware the student was recording a song in a music app.

But we did implement home ec activities, which will be something incorporated more meaningfully into our daily routines moving forward.

Day three was a bust. I called it Professional Development Day, which included free time for everyone with limited structured activities.

It snowed on day four, so we had a delayed opening but squeezed in the tasks on the dry erase board. And we made progress with reading because Nathaniel built reading forts to make reading time more fun.

Classroom management is difficult (God bless all teachers). The struggle is real.

We’re in this together

In recent days, individuals have shared their struggles with the kids being home all day on social media, too. It’s reassuring to know none of us are alone.

We are all doing the best we can — with the resources we have — given the situation we face.

Who knows how things will go in the weeks ahead?

But one thing is certain: I need to lower my expectations. I’m not perfect, and neither are my kids.

I can’t expect my kids to hold it all together 24 hours a day. This is hard on them, too.

It’s difficult to explain to children how this virus is so new and dangerous, and how it has affected the entire globe.

It’s hard enough for an adult to comprehend that, let alone a child.

Kids want to play with their friends, not be told they can’t have play dates or play ball or ride bikes with their friends in the neighborhood.

My house has never looked like it’s ready to be featured in a home magazine — we have dust balls, papers on the dining room table and kitchen counters and toys on the living room floor — and it’s certainly not going to get that way in the coming weeks and months, especially with family members all working remotely.

Our house is lived in and will feel even more so in the coming weeks as we all share the same space 24 hours a day.

There are bound to be even more spats, full-on arguments, bickering and yelling, spilled food and drinks and, I expect, tears.

We are all going to lose our patience at some point.

But we are also going to have fun. We will be together for quality family time and do it one day at a time.

Deborah Rose is a lifelong New Milford resident who has worked at The Spectrum since its inception in 1998. She can be reached by email at drose@newstimes.com.