If you have followed me for awhile, you know that I homeschooled my kiddos for 8, wonderful years. Sadly, due to life changes, homeschooling came to an end 3 years ago. Ironically, many parents around the country are now lamenting the opposite: forced to educate their children at home who would otherwise be in a public or private school setting. Teachers, parents and kiddos suddenly found themselves forced into a situation of continuing with educating while forced to stay at home. The teachers have done an amazing job setting up online assignments and being available for virtual tutorials and class discussions. Students and parents, for the most part, have tried to take advantage of the time together and navigate through learning at home. However, I have also read many reports of frustrated parents and children saying it was simply too much to take on. This is valid: the situation we find ourselves in is not truly homeschooling.
Homeschooling is the result of a choice. That choice allows for flexibility because the parent chooses the subjects and publishers of each, arranges for play dates, co-ops, field trips, daily “classroom” schedules, e.t.c. The parents of public and private school children now forced to educate their children at home are not privileged to the same. There are no play dates, co-ops, homeschool groups and choice in lessons and curriculum. They are trying to understand what the teachers would be presenting themselves, and in turn, relay that to their frustrated children, already used to a classroom setting.
Let me explain it this way: Mom and Dad plan a weekend away. They hire a babysitter, or relative, and write out a list for the care of their children while they’re away. Chores, rules, permitted TV/screen time, dietary needs and/or restrictions, bedtimes, e.t.c. It’s just a weekend with someone else’s kids following someone else’s rules for those kids, while getting paid on top of that. There might be little hiccups and frustrations from staying in their house; Mom and Dad might get a phone call or two asking questions or needing backup, but for the most part, things run smoothly and there’s an end in sight.
Our current situation is so much different and the “end” or outcome is unclear. Throw in job loss, little or no social interaction, stiffness and fear when leaving the house for necessary items, and trying to carry on months of school for potentially several children at a time during a global crisis. I truly applaud everyone doing their best with their families during this period. There’s no clear idea of how grades and attendance will be determined, and would-be graduates face serious uncertainty of how their high school to college transition will play out.
As a former homeschooler of my 7 kiddos, I found myself also in a unique position of educating again at home, but using a public school platform. I was grateful to the availability of teachers to help understand the online program and expectations. I also gently assured my kids that they are not failing!