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‘It’s challenging:’ Single mom faces homeschooling 4 girls amid COVID-19 pandemic

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MILWAUKEE -- The coronavirus has impacted our educational system -- and it is not just students who are learning some new lessons. Parents who find themselves homeschools are going back to class as well.

Shardae Sims is a single mother of four girls. With two jobs, it is safe to say she has a full plate. Once the coronavirus pandemic hit, her plate went from being full to overflowing.

With school closed for the rest of this academic year, Sims' home has turned into one large classroom -- for not only her daughters but two other kids as well.

"My Godchildren with their mother working as hard as she could be, I took them in as well and try to help with the tutoring and try to be, to play my part," Sims said.

They are all at different learning levels.

"I'm dealing with a 2nd grader, a 5th grader, 8th grader, and two 9th graders. So academically-wise, nobody's in the same bracket. Like the teachers, they're dealing with the same age, the same group -- it's all the same material," Sims said.

Sims knew it would be hard, but not this hard. She said even on good days, it is tough. Sims credits teachers who make it look easy.

"It's very difficult as a teacher. They're instilled with patience. And as a parent, you're like, 'No, you're not doing it right.' You almost have to relearn patience with your own children," Sims said.

The 34-year-old gets lesson plans online from Milwaukee Public Schools. Some assignments are easier than others. Funny thing is, the ones she thought would be simple are the toughest -- like cursive writing and learning her way around a tablet.

"One of the challenges was, you were only given one iPad per family from the school district because you have six kids in the house for one iPad," Sims said. "I had to go and purchase tablets and that was helpful."

Sims is not afraid to ask for help.

"It's challenging with the hours cut, back I spend a lot of time up. Preparation is the biggest key. A lot of times I may have to cut class short and go from a five-hour day to a two-hour day," Sims said. "Principals, counselors, all that helps, because you know at the end of the day, parents need someone to talk to as well."

Sims said parents should reach out to other parents for support because only they know what a struggle this can be.

"Some parents are just saying, you know, boy, I don't think I can do anymore. I wanna throw in the towel and they kind of joke about it. But it's not something you can throw the towel in on," Sims said. "My biggest advice would be to keep pushing. If you throw the towel in, you'll be failing them as well as a lot of other students and a lot of teachers as well."

For the record, Sims said the kids do get recess. She even bought a jungle gym for them.

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