INTRODUCING HOMESCHOOLING TO YOUR HOUSEHOLD: MANAGING COMMON CONCERNS
In the wake of school systems going virtual for spring 2020—and likely into fall—you may be considering that if the kids are going to be home anyway, perhaps you should forget about “regular” schooling altogether and take up homeschooling. You may also feel slightly panicky at the idea. Can your kids handle having you as parent and teacher? Can you handle that level of responsibility?
For more families than you might expect, the answers are “Yes.” While you’re investigating legal and curricula requirements for your area, here are some hints for more personal concerns.
“How Will I Make Time For My Own Job?”
If you work full-time yourself, you’ll have more schedule challenges than the stay-at-home parent. Still, you don’t have to rule out homeschooling as an option. Try:
- Negotiating with your employer to work remotely—preferably by a task list rather than a time clock. With many businesses already used to that approach in the social-distancing season, the time is ideal to suggest making it a long-term arrangement.
- Scheduling homeschooling hours before or after your own job. Many kids need only a couple hours per day of “class time,” and you can let them do independent assignments during your work hours.
- Implementing a private “virtual education” system, exchanging communications with your kids at home while you’re on commute or lunch break.
“I’ve Never Been a Teacher”
Legally or practically, you don’t need formal “education in education” to teach your own kids—knowing them personally is training enough. If you can get them interested in an art project on boring weekends, you can teach them whatever they need for success in life.
Don’t underestimate yourself—or overestimate the value of “traditional” academics. Hundreds of societies have thrived with children learning exclusively from parental instruction and example.
“Will My Children Fall Behind Academically?”
Numerous studies have confirmed that homeschooling is as effective—often more so—in helping children master reading, mathematics, and everything else taught in public schools. Check that your own approach includes the factors most conducive to success:
- Clearly understood educational goals
- Structured lesson plans (predesigned ones can be ordered from educational publishers and co-ops)
- An approach tailored to each individual child’s natural learning style
- Personal attention, balanced with opportunities to practice self-confidence and independence
“Will My Children Miss Out On Socializing?”
Although many kids cite seeing friends as a favorite reason for “going to school,” actual socializing in most traditional schools is limited to before-and-after-the-school-day chatter. And for many kids, their real friends are elsewhere: they share few interests with their classmates.
You can provide perfectly adequate socializing opportunities by:
- Getting to know your neighbors so your children can make friends within easy visiting distance. Go ahead and strike up a conversation with anyone you see working in their yard.
- Putting aside wear-and-tear concerns, and opening your yard or home—or your Zoom network—to neighborhood kids.
- Arranging group activities with other homeschooling families.
Finally, think positive! Focus on the benefits of family education, rather than indulging in “what if” fretting. The example you set for your kids, in that area, may prove the most valuable lesson you ever teach them.