I’ve been considering homeschooling since we started distance learning last March. I had a terrible experience with distance learning. To be clear. distance learning (or NTI, or online/virtual learning, or whatever you want to call it) are not the same as homeschool. Distance learning is when your child is enrolled in a public school and is doing all of the assignments remotely. Homeschooling is when you are the teacher and responsible for all aspects of your child’s education. One of the reasons distance learning doesn’t work for us is because I have four kids and a husband working at home. So imagine me trying to keep everything quiet while half the family is on a video call. It is a nightmare. I wrote about back when I was in the middle of all that.
I also already wrote about why I don’t want to do in-person learning. This is NOT to shame anyone who wants their kids in school and has no issues with social distancing, but it isn’t the best choice for us.
In the past, I have felt like our school had many benefits over what I could give them at home. I hear a lot of criticism towards public school because it is a rigid and outdated style of learning. I know some brick and mortar schools might be full of rows of desks with a teacher writing on a board and students memorizing and reciting information like robots. At our public school though, it is the total opposite of that and I have told our teachers how much I appreciate their approach to learning.
I would receive photos on the school app of my children daily and they were always either on their feet, outside, or sprawled out on the ground learning.
They were never in desks and never bored and disenchanted. This school is all about the tactile, kinesthetic, collaboration, imagination, nature, motion, friends-problem-solving, creating, building, hands-on, having fun while discovering!!! I wanted to share a hundred photos from this past year, but I narrowed it down. Their lessons are always super creative. Is that awesome or what!? However, with the guidelines that are in place so much of that is going to change.
When I think of my kids being in an environment where their face is covered all day, as well as everyone around them it breaks my heart. No doubt this amazing group of teachers and staff will find creative ways to still ignite kids’ enthusiasm for learning but there are some ways their hands are tied. Day in and day out the children will be constantly encouraged to sanitize and discouraged from coming together which goes against our family’s philosophy on health and growth. In the pandemic public school, they can’t get into small groups, or play games together, or see smiles, or share crayons or a microscope. So that’s why I feel like I could serve them better at home for now.
Originally I wasn’t going to homeschool all of them. I was taking it one kid at a time.
First off Ezie, he’ll be in 2nd grade. I feel like he thrives in a school environment. He loves people. He works well with a teacher and not so much with me (when we did distance learning). He also is EXTREMELY physical. He notoriously hugs EVERYBODY. I’ve talked about this before. He has been called “Huggy Bear” since he was two years old. He had to make an “all-about-me” post for school last year and here are some of his answers-
I am special because- he wrote “I give hugs”
I help others by- “Making them feel better by hugging them”
For Favorite Book, he put “The Hug Machine”
He will tap your shoulder when he wants your attention. He wrestles and does secret handshakes with his friends. He stops during a school assignment to announce a “hug break”. Ironically this is the same reason I used to feel like homeschool wouldn’t be a good fit for him! We have friends and family that we are quarantining with, along with just having 5 other people in our home that I think he can meet his physical contact quota at home much more than in public school right now.
Then there is SJ.
Because she spent the first three years of her life without cochlear implants her little rapidly developing brain is hard-wired to read lips and facial expressions. Because of this, I am certainly worried that she would fall behind with facial coverings. There are some exemptions for teachers to wear shields when a child has special needs, but even then, that leaves the rest of the school with covered faces. I have hearing loss too and I know how hard it is to hear when the voice is muffled by a mask and then tack on being 6 feet away! It’s nearly impossible. I have had to tell many employees at stores when I’ve been out and about- I’m sorry I have hearing loss and I just don’t understand. So for SJ, I think she’ll have a better 4th grade year absorbing a lot more information at home. We are working on a scholarship that would still allow her to receive the services that she would have gotten from her IEP and I am really excited about that opportunity.
Lastly, there is Z.
We had fully planned on him starting his first year at Junior High in the school building. Then things started escalating with COVID and J and I thought, well at least he’ll have the online option and he can work from home. We really wanted him in school because he is starting accredited High School math and the grade is on his High School transcripts. However, when we found out that online learning would be sitting at a computer the entire school day and you are expected to be there joining in virtually the whole time. There was no flexibility and I understand why, but he wasn’t interested in that and neither were we. So we said no thank you.
This was not an easy choice at all. I love our school, teachers, and principal. I almost cried yesterday when I filled out the decision form and had to check “my child will not be attending”. It’s a grieving process. I’m not mad at the school for doing what they feel has to be done or what is mandatory. I think they’ve done a phenomenal job navigating all of this! That’s part of what makes it harder for me. I feel like I’m betraying our beloved school that has served my children so well. It’s almost like a break up with someone you really care about, but you agree to take a break.
So that is a lot of words about all the heavy stuff that is on my heart. Maybe you’ve seen this graphic floating around.
That’s how I feel. Everyone has to make this very personal decision for themselves. This whole crazy unprecedented time is wearing on all of us. It’s not hopeless though. Next time I will write about why I am looking forward to this next season.