Learning online while juggling nine


Photo courtesy of Crystyna Outland.

Isabel Paez, Reporter

Photo courtesy of Crystyna Outland.

It does not need repeating that online schooling has been difficult for everyone.

Crystyna Outland, like so many others has not had an easy Junior year. The high curriculum classes, high pressure exams, and on the rise Coronavirus cases would have anyone on edge.

However, she has the added stress of dealing with a family, and a large one at that. The oldest of ten siblings all of which are learning remote this year, she has her work cut out for her.

“My mom has third shift, so she sleeps during the day and my dad works during the day so I’m the one who has to take care of my siblings.”

The youngest are two- year old twins and the rest range from kindergarten to freshman in high school.  In a typical day Crystyna oversees the twins and the three of her siblings who are in elementary school in their living room. The rest of their siblings are scattered around the house in their rooms doing their own schoolwork.

“It can get a little crazy…we all have different lunches and I have to make my siblings food, so a lot of times I’m taking notes while making food.”

Beyond lunch, Crystyna also helps her siblings with schoolwork, issues, and on occasion technology troubles. All while staying on course in her own classes, many of which are honors and AP.

School isn’t the only thing that brings problems.

“The internet connection with all us together is difficult. Sometimes the Wi-Fi goes down all at once, and my parents are trying to figure out how to fix it too because they have to do some work from home.”

Striking a balance between responsibilities and school can be difficult but here’s how Crystyna does it.

“My mom taught me to multitask, stay organized, and stay alert. I learned how to calm down my siblings and speak to them in a certain way.”

Staying determined can be another challenge all together.

“It gets overwhelming but with me being the eldest, I’m going to be going into college soon. I’m also in bio-med so I have to take those higher classes and it looks good on my college applications. Also, my parents are really good at some of my subjects so each weekend we all sit down together and help out anyone who needs it with their work.”

Her struggles have not gone unnoticed by her teachers

“I was completely surprised that there were that many children living in one house all trying to conduct school in one form or another,” A.P. Physics teacher Ryan Owen said.

“I first became aware of the volume of people in her house when she unmuted her mic and I could hear birds. I asked Crystyna if she was outside and she said yes because her house was so full. It made me sad that she had to sit outside while the weather was nice to conduct school but at the same time, I was proud of her for being able to problem solve on her own.”

As trying as Crystyna’s situation was, Owen said she wasn’t the only one that he noticed dealing with challenging situations at home.

“Her circumstances are pretty tough but not unique. I’ve had numerous students who have had to take care of siblings who are younger than them while trying to be successful in my AP physics class,” Owen said. “Now she’s the only one that has that many kids in her house but Covid has changed the way school looks. Parents need to go to work and with littles at home it falls on the shoulders of older siblings to not only do their best at school but also step in as parents and help younger siblings be successful as well. These types of situation’s aren’t going to change until we can bring everyone safely back into school buildings.”

When asked about what advice she would give to anyone in similar circumstances she had this to say.

“Laugh twice a day ‘cause it helps. Have dance breaks, it helps get the kids calmed down and smile. If you have animals keep them around because they make the day pass easier. Talk to your friends whenever you can. “

And finally

“You’re not alone, your family has your back and just hang in there.”