Am I crazy…or would this be easier?
By Lisa Edwards, M.Ed., Parent Coach
Most of the nation experienced “distance learning” last spring. And now on the cusp of this new school year, parents are wondering, “Should I homeschool my child?”
Yes, last spring was a learning curve for all of us. We learned how to work from home, while caring for our children, and in turn helping them through all of their schoolwork. Doesn’t it just sound easier if we, as parents, can be in control of their schooling and decide when and how much work they need to do?
Before you go too fast, take a deep breath, slow down and really think about this. Remember that saying, “the grass isn’t always greener on the other side.”? The same can be said about Homeschooling. It isn’t just an easy decision to make and you need to consider multiple factors. So be informed as possible as you make this major decision.
Homeschool does allow you flexibility. You have the ability to truly personalize the education to the interests of your child. It also allows families the opportunity to teach subjects that they highly value and they may not have time for or be qualified to teach in public school. It is recommended to have a routine schedule to follow, and if something disrupts this schedule, you can make up time later in the day or on a weekend.
One thing many homeschool have found surprising is the time it takes for them to plan for the instruction. It takes time to pull all of your materials together, look them over, and then decide what you want to do. Often you need to have a plan that is both short range, and long range. It takes a lot of organization and planning backwards from your end goal. Once you decide on materials you want to use, you need to familiarize yourself with the lesson. The last thing you want is to sit in front of your child and have to figure out how the quadratic equation works using Google while they sit their staring at you wondering, if you don’t know it, why should they? You will need to plan time or preparation every day to review your lessons and know what you will be doing the following day.
If you found your child lacking in motivation last spring, join the club. This was probably one of the biggest hurdles parents faced. Children usually aren’t motivated to do 30 practice problems practicing their multiplication facts. Or writing a 5 page essay on the historical significance of the Boston Tea Party.
Public Schools could have done better. In fact, I am a strong believer that education needs to change altogether. We need to provide learning opportunities and experiences that truly engage our students at all ages.
If you are Homeschooling, you know your child best and can definitely tune into their passions to provide motivation for learning.
Parent As a Teacher
If you think parenting is difficult at time, be prepared to be a parent that is a teacher. You need to be prepared for this role and be prepared to wear the teacher hat. It will be much more different than just the enforcer of school work. Be prepared for power struggles at time. Make sure your children know when you are wearing the teacher hat and what the expectations are when they are in “school” at home.
Teaching a child to read is complex. It is much more than learning letters, and putting them together to make words. This is one skill that sometimes can take years for educators to learn well, and be able to respond to the needs of all students. You need to understand the Big 5 – Phonemic Awareness, Phonics, Fluency, Comprehension, and Vocabulary. If your child is young, ages 5-7 and you are considering homeschool, make sure that you have done your research and have various resources to aid in your child’s reading development. If your child struggles at all, you will want to seek help with many strategies that can be used to help children.
Support From The School
If you are thinking your school will support you with Homeschooling, you are dreaming. Public schools do very little to help any families that make this choice. And although the school may provide some of the curriculum, it will be very little of what your child would actually get in school. It may be a workbook, but it won’t come with a teacher manual, or anything useful for you as the teacher. You will also not have access to any devices that schools may be providing such as iPads or Chromebooks. Therefore, you need to understand that your support will need to come from other places.
If you make the choice to Homeschool, make sure to connect with other families that have made this choice. Find the local associations or groups. This will provide your best support and you can exchange materials used, as well as provide opportunities for your children to socialize and interact. You can find local associations by Googling your State Department of Education and searching their website for Homeschool information. Generally resources will be listed here for you.
Homeschooling Is Not a One Year Fix
You should not consider this the fix to the COVID-19 pandemic. If your child is unable to go to school on site this year, most districts are providing options for full distance learning. Make sure to contact your school to see if they are able to accommodate your request. The distance learning options that schools are providing, give children and families the opportunities to stay connected to their school community, and the learning will still follow the scope and sequence for the district.
One other consideration is there will be a financial impact to the district as students are pulled from enrollment in a public school this year. And if your child returns next year, they will feel this impact for years to come as there may be programmatic cuts. Many districts are struggling with the budget shortfalls of creating safe, protected spaces, while producing less revenue with families pulling their children from the system. Keeping your children enrolled, will help the district in the future.
Time With Your Child
Consider if this is a blessing or not! Homeschooling will definitely give you the opportunity to spend more time with your child and to help them grow and find success in their learning. This can be extremely rewarding and should not be overlooked as a major benefit for Homeschool.
Whatever your decision…to Homeschool or enroll your child in public school, you are making a very personal decision that you can’t depend on anyone else to make for you. It is personal, and if you make a choice with the best interests of your child at the root of your decision, be confident that your are making the right one.
If you want to work through this decision, don’t hesitate to reach out to one of the coaches. We would be happy to work with you through it all! CLICK HERE FOR A FREE CONSULTATION
Check out these other other articles: Helping My Child with Homework, and What Should I Have Learned During Distance Learning?