Pandemic School at Home is Nothing Like Regular Homeschooling
If you found yourself teaching your kids at home for the first time in 2020 or 2021, you are definitely not alone! According to the U.S. Census Bureau, around 3.3% of American households usually homeschool. However, their Household Pulse Survey found that at the end of April 2020, 5.4% of American households were homeschooling. By September 2020, this number had doubled to 11.1% of households. These numbers only include homeschoolers, not those enrolled in distance or virtual learning through their school.
While homeschooling has increased substantially, most students who have been learning from home have been doing so through public school virtual learning. According to the Census Bureau, in October 2020, 65% of households reported that their children were using some form of online distance learning during the pandemic. If you’d like a state-by-state breakdown on distance learning, see the map at the bottom of this article. While schools in some areas are opening back up, many of these students are still learning remotely.
If Your Kids Have Been Virtual Learning
If your kids have been doing distance or virtual learning through their school, please be aware that this is nothing like regular homeschooling. In some areas, unfortunately, students have had little interaction with a live teacher during the pandemic. This has left parents to pick up the slack. I’ve heard many say that as a result, they have learned that they could never homeschool.
I understand this reaction; however, homeschooling is actually much more enjoyable and often easier than virtual learning. So, if you’ve ever thought you might like to homeschool, don’t let a negative experience with virtual school turn you against homeschooling.
When you homeschool, you are in charge. You get to choose everything from the curriculum to the schedule you follow. If something isn’t working, you are free to change it. Online learning isn’t a fit for many children. Instead, homeschoolers can choose to use traditional textbooks, workbooks, real books, unit studies, hands-on learning, or any other method that fits their needs. They also decide what subjects their children study and can choose topics that suit their interests and goals.
When you’re helping your children with their virtual schoolwork, there can be a lot of guesswork involved. What does the teacher expect? What is the best way to explain a concept? Is the answer to this question or problem correct? Instead, homeschooling parents typically choose to use curriculum that comes with a detailed teacher’s guide and answer key. These resources help homeschool parents teach with confidence.
Homeschoolers can learn at their own pace. If your child is learning something easily, you can quickly breeze through it. There is no reason to bore them with busy work or things they already know. On the other hand, if they are struggling with something, they will not fall behind like they would in virtual school. You can stay on a topic as long as it takes for them to master it.
With virtual learning, you are usually required to log in at certain times for class. Homeschoolers can plan their own day. You can homeschool any time of day. This makes it much easier to get chores done, run errands, see family and friends, and go on fun outings. Homeschooling also typically takes less time per day than virtual schooling. This gives your children more time to play and pursue hobbies and other activities.
When you homeschool, you do not have to follow a traditional school calendar. Some homeschoolers learn year-round, with short breaks throughout the year. Other homeschoolers prefer to take a long break in the fall or winter instead of the summer. Another option is to homeschool only three or four days a week with a longer school year. The possibilities are endless. Plus, vacations are much more affordable and pleasant during off-peak times of the year.
If You’ve Been Homeschooling Because of the Pandemic
If you’ve been homeschooling because of the pandemic, maybe you have already gotten a taste of the freedom that homeschooling offers. However, there are still some differences between homeschooling during a pandemic and what homeschooling is usually like.
Homeschooling during the pandemic has given many families the impression that homeschooling is socially isolating. While this may be true during the pandemic, this is not usually the case. Homeschoolers typically enjoy play dates, field trips, co-ops classes, sports, science labs, and many other extracurricular activities. During the pandemic, these things may have been canceled or had much less participation than usual. However, when things get back to normal, there will be plenty of opportunities for homeschoolers to make friends and socialize.
If you began homeschooling suddenly because of school closures or dissatisfaction with your school’s virtual learning or their response to the pandemic, you were likely thrown into homeschooling with very little time to prepare. Homeschoolers usually have much more time to research curriculum and methods and create a plan. This allows things to get off to a much smoother start than when you have to begin homeschooling suddenly.
Change is Often Challenging
Even in normal times, the first year of homeschooling can be challenging. Like any significant change, it can take some time to adjust to homeschooling and to determine what works for your family. Add a pandemic, economic uncertainty, and everything else that happened over the past year, and it’s no wonder that many families’ home learning experiences got off to a stressful and bumpy start. But, if you feel homeschooling may be the right choice for your family, don’t let a bad experience with virtual learning or homeschooling during the pandemic discourage you. These experiences are truly nothing like regular homeschooling.