While most of my family has been homeschooled, and while I had a terrible school experience growing up, I’ve always valued the public school my son attended. They had good teachers, a great environment and he really enjoyed the social interaction with other kids.
However, we always had concerns as parents, over school safety. It wasn’t that his school felt unsafe. It felt safe. It was more about the general problems with school safety these days. There were at least two school related shootings last year, and that has always worried us.
My son is only in 3rd grade, but still the dangers are there. Now in 2020 there’s a new threat, the threat of COVID-19. While I’m well aware that children are not easily prone to illness from COVID-19, I was not happy with the online alternative offered by our school. I wasn’t alone.
What my son’s teacher did, was simply pass links to the class (through some school portal) for kids to read or watch videos on Khan Academy and other learning sites. Questions related to the videos often didn’t match up to the content! Perhaps his teacher was overwhelmed, I don’t know, but it became clear that I could do a better job than this.
I started teaching my son on my own, while he was ending his school year in 2020. That’s when it clicked… I had taught my son more in a few weeks, then he learned almost in an entire year (even prior to COVID-19).
I continued teaching my son, and giving him assignments. We went through a variety of online curriculum and I found a couple that I really enjoyed. My son spent his summer days working 4 hours a day on assignments I gave him. He even worked on the weekends. I’ve allowed him to pick some of his own studies, like learning Japanese, learning how to program and Economics.
From mid June, to mid July my son has progressed through most of his next grade (3rd grade). He’s completed 70% mastery of the state’s required mathematics standards and he’s completed about 60% of the Language Arts requirements – in 1 month!
For those parents who are are considering homeschooling, due to COVID-19 or for other reasons, I understand any hesitation you might have. I went through periods of guilt. Am I doing the right thing? How will this impact him socially? What if I don’t know the content he needs to learn?
Thankfully most of these concerns are already met. I’ll go through them one by one.
Will homeschool impact a child socially?
Pre-quaratine, many parents who homeschooled, put their kids into social programs. These might be clubs, organizations, sport teams and so on. Right now, in the age of COVID-19, there’s no socializing anyway.
Do you think your child will socialize in school in 2020-2021? Until a vaccine and even after a vaccine, kids will not be socializing. School guidelines in my state, demand that only 10 children can be in a classroom at one time. This will require most kids to show up 2 days a week, 3 days working from home. Those two days, will rotate out randomly to fit in various schedules.
Children at school won’t be able to interact much, and are required to wear masks for their protection. I get that, but the social aspect is already gone. So why not homeschool? Or, in the least, do full time remote school, via a public alternative?
What if I don’t know the content he’s learning?
To be homeschooled, a child requires a full curriculum. Parents will need to either purchase this in book form, online form or a mix of the both. These curriculums will come with the material needed to instruct the child… and in the case of online curriculum, it’s graded without the parent’s interaction.
Some online schools (although more expensive) offer Zoom calls with coaches and teachers, to help guide the child through hard areas of the schoolwork.
How can I keep track of my kids grades?
Recording keeping is very important with homeschools. If a child is in a hybrid school, such as a public school offering a full remote solution, all records will be maintained by them.
However, if you decide to do all the work yourself, you’ll need to be in charge of the record keeping. You can easily do this on paper, or you can do it fully online. Many online curriculums will do this for you.
How will I manage my child?
This can be a problem for some. Logistically though, it’s an easy fix. I work on teams that use software like Monday.com and Asana. These often cost quite a bit of money, although Asana has a free version. In my personal opinion, I’m a big fan of ClickUp.com. It’s like Monday, but it has a very robust free version. The free version will meet the needs of a homeschooler.
ClickUp is a project management system, and that’s how I manage my kids. I gave my 8 year old a login and set up a project for him. I can quickly type a task (“Spend 1 hour in language arts at MiAcademy.co”) or “Read 20 pages in your science book.”). When my son completes the task, he moves the task to “done.” I can verify the work later in the day on the respective sites, or by asking him questions about any offline content he might be reading.
Success in Homeschooling
If you ever wanted to try homeschooling, now is the time. This is a perfect opportunity. Regardless how you feel about COVID-19, we certainly will be impacted in how students and teachers will be able to meet educational demands.
If doing it on your own is too much to consider, then think about K12 and other online/remote public school systems. There are also private school systems, that cost more money. If money isn’t a problem, then there are a wide variety of options available.
I’ll be doing a write up on my experience with some of the most advertised and marketed solutions…. which, in my opinion, leave a lot to be desired.