Spoiler alert: the pandemic actually isn’t on the list. Moving along.
I am ready to do the walk of crisis-schooling shame. I failed. Truly. My husband works full time; I work part time. We are lucky to have kept our jobs through this. We have a kindergartner and a two year old. The meetings, the daily assignments…we just couldn’t do it. We couldn’t keep up, and eventually, we all fizzled out.
There has not been a moment in time during this pandemic bullshit that I have not felt like a failure in one of my roles: being a mom, being a teacher, being a wife, being someone who cares about her own mental health and well-being.
I have now finished my coronavirus crisis schooling walk of shame, because after going through all of the above for months, ya girl is comin’ out swinging and ready to stand thy ground.
Which is why…drumroll please…we are very excited to move to a homeschooling model of education beginning in fall 2020. Not cyber school; not crisis school — legit, mom-is-my-teacher-and-maybe-sometimes-dad-is-too- school.
And before we dive into why I am so thrilled, yes — I am a teacher-by-trade (university). No, that doesn’t not qualify me more than someone who isn’t. No, I do not plan on bringing the traditional classroom into my home.
Reason 1: Our kids have the ability to dive into their interests at their pace. My kindergartner hates math worksheets, but she loves learning about bones in the human body, different types of Ohio birds, and has become mesmerized with American Sign Language (thanks for the amazing translators on Ohio’s daily coronavirus briefings!).
We will obviously still learn math, but we certainly won’t do so sitting upright in an uncomfortable chair. Nope. We will count earthworms in the dirt or count our steps around the block or make the driveway and sidewalk chalk our “workbook.” We get to individualize education in a way that we didn’t think was possible. Our KIDS are in the drivers seat, and we are there to help them along THEIR way! How exciting is that?
You don’t need to be an “expert” on everything. You need to be an expert on how YOUR kids learn, and you are already there. I promise!
Reason 2: Homeschooling offers flexibility we cannot get in a mainstream institution, and this is beneficial to the whole family. I’m not into dragging my kind out of bed and forcing her to “learn.” I said what I said. I’m also not a fan of summers off, and we won’t be taking the summer off. We will be learning wherever we go.
We were blessed to enroll my kindergartner in a small, private school just over the state line in Pennsylvania. Three generations of my family attended this wonderful institution. The morning routine was wicked, though. It’s a 35 minute drive, so we were up very early and eating breakfast in the car, etc. We were constantly rushed, and all of us hated it. You do not have to do things that aren’t working for your family just because that’s what the rest of the people are doing.
We don’t view homeschooling as “less work.” We view it as better work.
Reason 3: Our kids will learn that the world is their classroom and that they can have fun learning no matter where or how old they are. Education is everywhere. If you think back to any place you’ve been or any person with which you have crossed paths, I can promise you that you will be able to remember something you learned. Maybe you have some kind of stunning revelation about yourself; maybe you found an easier way to carry groceries to your car. It doesn’t matter if what you learned is the size of a mountain or a mole hill; learning is learning.
We want our kids to understand that this magical thing called “learning” can happen anytime, anywhere. We don’t want them to associate learning with sitting at a desk in a certain place. We want them to be so, so curious and look at everything with a sense of wonder and excitement. We believe homeschooling instills this sense of curiousity in children.
Of course, there are critics.
The number one “issue” I hear people bring up is that homeschooled kids are “socially awkward.” First, it isn’t true. Second, there are plenty of ways to promote socialization outside of the standardized classroom. Third, wearing a mask behind a desk hugged in plexiglass, shutting down school playgrounds, closing down the cafeterias, forcing kids to stay in the same groups, and discouraging sharing isn’t socialization (you can find this information and more on the CDC’s website).
I know that homeschooling isn’t for everyone and not everyone can do it, so this isn’t meant to sound like a jab — but it is meant to present the reality. We are losing the fun, socialization aspect of mainstream schooling. It is going down the drain faster than the soap everyone uses to wash their hands for at least 20 seconds. There will be schools and teachers they innovate and find ways to make education fun again, but it will be a rough start. PS: I don’t think homeschooling in this house will be the easiest start, either…so I’m with you, sis.
I don’t want my child to explore a state park virtually because schools cannot take field trips. I want to pack the two of us in the car, with our masks and concrete understanding of social distancing, and go visit it safely! You can’t crunch the fall leaves or smell the pine trees or let the cool wind kiss your cheeks if you’re sitting at a desk in front of an iPad. I want her to have experiences. I want education to ignite her five senses and make her ask all the questions (yes, sigh…including “why?”). I don’t want it to depress her and limit her and give her anxiety because she’s isolated behind a sneeze shield.
Little girls like to tell silly secrets and hold hands. They like to braid each other’s hair and share journals. It saddens me that this won’t be a thing in school for a long, long time.
I truly feel like stepping into a classroom this fall will, ironically, hold back her education and diminish her social skills. That has nothing to do with teachers and everything to do with the world we live in right now.
It won’t be perfect. I am a type A personality wrapped in a shell of resting bitch face. I want to control the schedule and the things (just asked my husband!). I usually say “no” to jumping in muddy puddles because of “a mess.” I don’t think my kids are going to be the only students this fall; I think I will learn a few much needed lessons about dancing in the rain, getting my hands dirty, and finding my inner spontaneity (it’s gotta be in there somewhere, right?). And this is one of the best parts of the homeschool journey: EVERYONE is always learning.
Would I have done this had we not become part of this pandemic? It’s crossed my mind, but this was a catalyst. It wasn’t the reason, but it was the catalyst.
And if coronavirus suddenly disappeared and it was safe to return to school full swing in the fall, would I still decide to homeschool? Now that I have done research and have seen first hand how my children learn best, YES!
I’ll end with a book recommendation that is available on Hoopla for free as both and audio and ebook: The Call Of The Wild + Free by Ainsley Arment. This is an extensive look into homeschooling theories as well as the day-to-day. Highly recommended.
If you’re thinking of homeschooling, don’t dismiss that thought! Reach out to homeschooling mamas for insight, and do your research. Don’t be discouraged based on what that random girl from high school posts on her Facebook page about “weird homeschool kids” (she’s probably trying to make a living by selling juice cleanses so let’s just write her off anyway) or what you’re mother-in-law might say behind your back about your decision. You. Do. You!