The year 2020 will go down in history as one of the hardest, weirdest years for a lot of people. As a society, we have had to change and adjust to so many things. Everything we knew from years past, we suddenly have to do differently. From leaving school early last year to starting school online this year...it’s been tough.
I’ve been hearing from many parents that virtual learning is more than a challenge; it’s a struggle.
It’s been difficult for students, parents, and teachers, and I’ve heard many parents lately expressing that they just don’t think virtual learning is going to work, but they don’t know what else to do. Here’s what I’d like to share with you…
It’s okay. You do have options.
In my opinion, one of the biggest mistakes that parents make in their child’s education is believing that they are trapped into a single path.
- If you are in a public school situation that isn’t working for your child, it’s easy to think you're stuck.
- If you start homeschooling with one curriculum but soon find that your child isn’t thriving, it’s easy to feel you have no recourse to switch.
- If you are in virtual school with a child who is withering, again, it’s easy to convince yourself that there are no other options for you.
So you and your child tough it out, for better...or worse. Soon, you notice that your child dreads logging into their daily schoolwork. Then you may find tears and anxiety are close to follow. After that, the disconnect and the loss of interest and effort are apparent.
You find yourself feeling trapped. You want to help your child, but do you have any other options? Yes you do!
1. Consider Homeschooling
You are already facilitating online learning, so it's not much of a stretch to just make the leap and homeschool your child. Homeschooling might be just what you need to relieve the stress.
In homeschooling, you decide when and how your child will learn. If a Monday-Friday schedule doesn’t work for you, that’s okay! Do school in the evenings or on the weekends. You might even really switch things up and school year-round, giving you more breaks throughout the year.
You may be surprised to find that, depending on the age of your child and your choice of curriculum, your time commitment may be the same or possibly even less than what it is with virtual learning. You may also be surprised to learn that colleges are becoming more and more homeschool-friendly, happily accepting and offering scholarships to homeschooled students.
Homeschooling also means that you choose how your child learns. If your child is tired of the computer, maybe they would do better with a workbook. Or maybe they really excel with a literature-based curriculum where they can read and discuss their learning with you.
Whatever works best for your child is what you are able to give them when you homeschool. In homeschooling, life is the classroom —not four walls and not a computer.
In this article from The Washington Post (may be behind a paywall), the author says that after merely one week of homeschooling, "…we’d had enough of a breakthrough to see that the way our child learns wasn’t being served well by the school setting, and that the virtual learning setup only magnified those challenges. I cried because I’d wished we’d caught it earlier and because I was grateful that I’d trusted my gut. In doing so, we finally had a path for her that made sense."
2. Use Homeschool Co-ops & Pods
Don’t want to tackle the homeschool gig on your own? That’s okay! You don’t have to!
Many families are choosing to homeschool these days, so why not get together and make it a joint effort by forming a co-op or at-home learning pod? There are many different types of homeschool co-ops.
- Social co-ops focus on getting together for play opportunities and field trips
- Educational co-ops focus on providing educational opportunities
- Specialized co-ops focus on a certain type of homeschooling method
Some co-ops require parents to attend, while others are drop off varieties.
We live in a town of about 7,000 people and within 30 minutes of our home, we have access to at least 5 different homeschooling groups, all with a different focus.
Co-ops are a great way to make homeschooling a viable option for your family.
- You get the support you need.
- You get tangible help with instruction.
- Your kids have opportunity for positive socialization.
If you are interested in finding out what’s available in your area, do a quick online search or start asking around.
3. Consider Blended Education
Many communities are making it easier to blend your child’s education with a mix of different avenues. Look at your state’s laws to see if your state allows a blended education.
For example, where I live in Arkansas, children can take as little as one class at a public school while homeschooling the rest of the day. This is especially beneficial for children who enjoy sports, music, and STEAM activities. Other states provide a hybrid of in-person or online charter school with at-home instruction that you provide.
Talk with your local school administration or state homeschool advocacy organization to see what is available for you.
I’m not going to tell you that homeschooling is easy or stress-free, but I will tell you that it is a good option for families who aren’t satisfied with virtual learning.
Switching from virtual learning to a homeschool situation can really set you and your child free from at least a few of the stressors in 2020.
If virtual learning is a win for your family, that’s great! We are rooting for you! But, if it’s not, don’t stay in a situation where no one is thriving. Don’t be afraid to try something different. Try homeschooling! If you do decide to give it a try, we are here to help at Sonlight.