When I was a kid, I loved shopping for back-to-school supplies. Okay, maybe I still love shopping for school supplies. I loved opening the new box of crayons and seeing all those perfect colored points facing me. I treasured new unspoiled folders and binders – like blank canvases waiting for me to make my mark on them. And the most coveted school supply – one of those pens that could write in four different colors! (I know, that dates me!) Anyhow, this fall, what will back to school look like for you and your family?
Crazy 2020 Is Full of Challenges
This year, the year of “crazy,” everything relating to going back to school is challenging. Some schools are choosing to continue remote learning solutions. Others are trying to reopen with modifications, social distancing, and masks, while others are attempting various hybrid models combining in-school learning with remote education. What a nightmare – for teachers, administrators, parents, and students! And what do you do if you don’t favor the solution your school chooses? Do you keep the kids home or reluctantly send them back to school? Or, if your school is doing remote learning, will your kids fall behind? Do you think they are losing out on their education? You need to make educational choices based on what is best for your family.
You Have Options!
When choosing what is best for your family, you need to know your options. So let me list several ideas for you.
- Send your kids back to school in whatever way your school chooses to operate.
- Choose to participate solely in your school’s remote learning program.
- Participate in your school’s remote learning program, but supplement with outside learning materials to enhance your child’s education.
- Enroll in a private school.
- Become part of a “micro-school.”
- Homeschool your children.
Because we are all different, and because all our families have unique dynamics and situations, we need to choose the option that works best for our own family. Your choice of schooling option should reflect your own family’s needs. What works great for your best friend may not be the best solution for you.
Are You Choosing to Homeschool?
Maybe you decided to homeschool your children this year. (And by “homeschool,” I mean doing your own “thing,” not just remote learning from your school.) Deciding to homeschool might be the easiest of the decisions you will need to make. What approach will you take in your homeschooling efforts? Did you know about the different takes on homeschooling?
- Traditional – The traditional approach is closer to what you might find in a classroom. You and the student have textbooks and workbooks for each subject, and you follow a consistent schedule for the day to accomplish all the necessary work.
- Unschooling – This approach to homeschooling is more like “life is school, school is life.” Learning occurs through regular life experiences, so there isn’t a need for a structured academic day.
- Online – You can enroll in online schools. Your student is part of a “class” with an online instructor who leads them through various subjects and materials. This approach is closest to an actual school experience. Someone else does the teaching while you monitor your child’s participation at home.
- Student-Directed – A student-directed approach to homeschooling takes the child’s current interests and forms the educational experience around those interests. If the child is crazy about horses, then all the “subjects” are related to horses – reading about horses, the science of caring for horses, and optimal horse nutrition. Computing the costs of keeping and feeding a horse translates into math lessons. And when the child’s interests switch to ballet, then the education is all related to dance. Often the child is responsible for choosing what and how he wants to study.
- Unit Study – Unit studies are similar to student-directed studies, but the parent does more of the decision making. In a unit study, all (or most) academic and educational activities relate to a central theme. Your topic could be farm animals, medieval history, baseball, anything. But then you would relate reading, writing, history, and science all to your main topic.
- Hybrid – A hybrid model will pick and choose the best aspects of any approach and combine them into what you want in your homeschool. You could include a unit study for history, reading, and writing, add an online science course, and a traditional math curriculum – your call.
Are any of these approaches better than others? That is up to you! You can make anything work; it’s your choice! And if you choose one method and find that it isn’t working, you can change to something else, without board meetings or curriculum committees.
What Works for You?
There is no right or wrong way to homeschool. There may be ways that don’t work for you, and that’s okay. You are in charge; you get to choose! Don’t let anyone pressure you into accepting a method or approach that doesn’t fit your comfort zone. Many factors can influence your choice –
- Number of children you are teaching
- New babies
- Access to supplementary materials
- Budget issues
- Your educational background
- Amount of time available for teacher prep
Think about all these things when making your decisions. I know you want your children to learn and excel. And that’s the critical issue – how well your child is learning. Don’t pressure yourself to be the perfect homeschool mom – there is no such thing! Even though we look like we have it all together, all of us face challenges regularly. Learn from the problems, change your plans to make them work better, and keep on.
Going back to school this year will be challenging, for sure, but turn it into an adventure with your kids. Look through our resources, consider our services, join our Facebook group, check back for new posts, sign up for our newsletter. Our goal is to help you succeed with homeschooling!