Believe it or not, there are actually parents that love to home school their children. We promise there are!
We spoke to some of them to get any sort of advice or perspective they could offer to everyone else who ended up home schooling against their will. The results are helpful and encouraging. Check out this video for some insight into our conversations, and read the rest of this article for some bullet points we created!
Some backstory, for those of you who just walked out of a cave or woke up from a year long coma. In Spring 2020, every American household became a home school environment. Most school districts (ours, at least) went to a completely digital education, with all course materials and assignments handled through a mix of Google docs, various websites, and Zoom meetings. Because so many teachers were forced to throw together a curriculum and distribute it online so quickly, many students (and parents) have found themselves at times spending almost as much time deciphering what the assignments actually are as they do working on their projects. This has been tough on some parents, especially since they’re still working full time while helping educate and entertain their children.
So let’s get this out of the way: Yes, some parents actually “home school” on purpose!
We asked home school parents two questions and received a wealth of information. Here are some of the highlights of the things we learned:
First Question: Why do you homeschool your kids?
It is all about freedom in their schedule. What they do and what most public school parents have been asked to do is not the same. Full time home schooling parents pick which courses they focus on and when they do it. There are no set deadlines per se, and they simply follow a curriculum they have largely put together themselves at their own pace. Some focus intensely on one subject at a time. What parents have been asked to do this year is much more difficult. Every family is under a lot of stress due to lockdowns and this is not healthy for learning.
Home schooling to some is more about how to best engage with their child’s learning style. One family realized their child learns faster at her own pace and finished her first college level course at age 12!
Surprise! Some families don’t homeschool all their kids, with one child at home and another sibling in a public or private school.
Many home school families began because the application of common core based curriculums felt like a “one size fits all” approach to all the children in the school, and their child’s ability to learn was better in a home school environment.
Some families that have travel based jobs and/or military backgrounds found that enrolling in a new school multiple times a year was difficult on their child and home schooling provided stability and continuity.
Many parents network through different organizations and take field trips together as part of their education. Examples: Your state capitol, the New York Stock Exchange, Civil War Battlefields and other historical sites, national parks, Arlington National Cemetery, National Museum of African American History, etc.
Second Question: What advice do yo have for parents that are “home schooling” because all the schools are cancelled?
Every answer came with lot of empathy, and the recognition what most parents have been asked to do is not “home school” but rather to reproduce the same “one size fits all” approach to education in their homes, all while trying to work their own jobs.
Don’t stress over the deadlines and timelines. Many teachers are very understanding and if yours is disorganized or not responsive, take it up with the administrators. Not all school districts and classrooms are being managed the same.
Schedule a start and end time to “school,” and mix in lots of fun and breaks. And if you’re too busy trying to work your job to plan for the “fun” part, let your kids have their own fun and just schedule some breaks.
It is very hard for kids to learn without much interaction with one another or face to face access with their teachers. Their teachers will tell you this! Do what you can but don’t let yourself think negatively about your parenting. None of this was your idea!
You are not performing for anyone, nobody is watching, what another parent does might not work for you, so just do what you can to help your kids get their required assignments done.
Home school environments often focus on one subject at a time, to fully immerse kids in a subject and maximize their interest level. This can be a month at a time for some subjects. Since this isn’t going to work with weekly deadlines, maybe try letting your child do a different subject or two per day so they’re very focused on the work and there is less for you as a parent to monitor.
The school year is almost over and summer vacation will be here before we know it! Hang in there and lets run, walk, or even crawl to the finish line together.