Homeschooling and COVID: Here’s What Parents Should Know

By Nancy Flory Published on September 28, 2020

Bethany’s family of five just started homeschooling. Her three boys are gregarious, full of life and downright fun. The oldest has some delays in reading comprehension, but three weeks into September has already seen positive results from her teaching. “We are definitely seeing improvements,” she told me. “And I think we’re actually seeing improvements maybe faster than when he was in public school.” 

The quick improvements were a bonus for Bethany. “We chose to homeschool because last spring, when we did the e-learning, that was a nightmare.” When her kids’ school district announced they were going to do e-learning until at least the end of September because of COVID, she bailed. “I just did not want to do that again. And then I didn’t like what the schools were doing with regards to the masking and social distancing, especially for the little kids.”

Even with the improvements, the best part of homeschooling for Bethany is just spending more time with her children. “I think just getting to spend more time together and just really getting to work with the boys. And I actually do feel like I’m knowing the boys better and better as we go along. We’re growing closer.”

Homeschooling’s Flexibility

Tammy’s two older kids thrived in public school, but when they found out that most of their favorite parts about school were going to be cut, they said no way. “My oldest two did not want to wear a mask all day long and the fun things that they enjoyed in school, the stuff that made school doable, was being taken away — like recess and eating in the cafeteria and just hanging out.”

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The hardest part of homeschooling for Tammy is grading her middle-schoolers’ assignments. But that’s little problem in comparison to the flexibility that homeschooling provides. Her family is getting ready to pick up and take off to Florida for a two-week vacation. “We’re just going to spend two weeks hanging out and going to the beach. And in the afternoon when the rains come in, we will do some schoolwork.”

I talked with Bethany and Tammy as just another homeschooling parent: I homeschool my six year old. Some days it’s pulling teeth to get him to do his work, but if he puts his mind to it, he can finish his day’s work long before the bell rings at the end of the day in public school. It’s a lot of work, but I believe it is worth it.   

I know What It’s Like

As a former homeschooled student, I know what homeschooling can do for a child. I graduated high school a year early. Later, I went to college and earned a BA, an MJ and am now writing a dissertation for my PhD. The truth? I don’t think I’m an anomaly. I know plenty of homeschooled kids who had the same experience. 

My advice for those who are wondering about homeschooling their children, and that of Bethany, is to find experienced homeschooling parents and talk with them about the reality of homeschooling. Tammy’s advice is to know your child. “I think some kids, depending on the parents and stuff, probably thrive better in the public system versus the private system, depending on what’s going on in the house and who that child is.” Like her middle child, a boy. “He really liked the structure.” It’s important to understand the individual child and make a decision based on them, not the whole family.

Going Back to School

Both moms told me that whether their kids go back to public school — if things get back to ‘normal’ after COVID — will depend on whether their kids want to go back. “I would like to give [her middle schooler] the opportunity if she wants to go out and make friends,” said Tammy. “We are working in homeschool Co-ops trying to do that, but it’s not the same as a thousand kids being in your school.” Her other school-age child will likely continue his homeschooling. 

Bethany said she’ll probably keep them at home. “But a lot of it will dependent on them.”

 

Nancy Flory is an associate editor at The Stream. You can follow her @NancyFlory3, and follow The Stream @Streamdotorg.

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