Schooling At Home: What is life like now for Upstate Families?

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The 2020 Covid-19 Pandemic has closed schools and sent kids home to learn. Working parents find themselves either without work, working from home, or continuing on at the work place. All of these positions present significant challenges for families not used to doing school at home.

Parents have the support of their children’s teachers assigning work and through live video classes, but they also lack the flexibility, curriculum and activity choice that traditional homeschooling allows. Traditional homeschoolers find themselves without their extra curricular classes, co-op classes and field trips which keep them connected and learning together. It’s a situation unheard of in modern times.

At Kidding Around we wondered how parents, students and families were doing. We sent a survey to our readers through social media asking them about how school was going, how much time was being spent on school work and how parents felt about this new way of schooling.

How are families schooling at home?

Many parents report being unsure about how well their child would do schooling at home. Remarkably, many parents also reported that school is going well and that their children are learning. One of the greatest negatives parents report is that missing friends is a huge source of sadness among their children.

Who is home with the students?

We asked “What has your work situation been like since local schools have closed?” The majority of responses were as follows:

  • 35% at least one parent (legal guardian) is at home with the students and not working.
  • 22.5% all parents that are home with the students are also working from home full time
  • 20% at least one parents is home with the students and also working part time
  • 7.5% all parents in the home are still working outside the home

How are students learning at home?

Students are using worksheets, online programs, live classes, videos and more to facilitate their learning.

  • 87.2% report using worksheets and paperwork in their school day
  • 76.9% are engaged in some type of E-learning
  • 33.3% have live web classes

Small percentages say they use video recorded lessons, as well as adding their own assignments and books to read to their children’s days.

Do parents feel that enough work is being sent home for their child?

  • 71.8% feel the work load is just right
  • 20.5% feel there is too much work
  • 7.7% feel there is too little work

How are Families Doing Now Schooling at Home?

We asked a variety of questions of our readers from their reaction to the news that they’d be home, to how things are going today and what they’d like to tell their child’s teacher now. Here are some of the answers we received.

What was your personal reaction and thoughts when you found out that your child would be schooling at home?

  • “Concerned that she will fall behind and not work as hard for me as her teacher.”
  • “Overwhelmed”
  • “I was worried even though my husband and I are both teachers. It is not always easy to teach your own kid.”
  • “Surprised & unsure how to transition”
  • “How are we going to do this?”
  • “Stressed. I have other younger children at home and it’s a lot of stuff to keep up with.”
  • “Sad for the kids, but I knew our district was prepared.”

How have your kids adapted to learning at home?

  • “The first week was rough but the second week was better. “
  • “He hates it. He misses his friends”
  • “Okay. My goal is for my daughter to do some school work each day, but also to keep her and her pre-school age sister on a schedule that is livable for the three of us (while their dad works from home office). “
  • “Most part ok. They all want to be back in school. They want their teachers and friends together again. Each one in their own way has said “why can’t we go back? I don’t like elearning.”
  • “My child has done really well with getting the work done and he IS learning new things, but he misses his friends. He has to stay organized and keep track of his assignments – and he’s doing that with minimal help from me. It’s pretty cool to watch. His school stressed that already, so it’s a skill he’s been developing all year and has been able to carry over.”
  • “Amazingly well”

What are challenges that you have faced in teaching your children at home?

  • “The biggest is balancing doing my job and keeping her on task. Also we both are dealing with anxiety and fear created by the situation.”
  • “I need more patience”
  • “Getting her to be excited about schoolwork when she’s stuck at home.”
  • “Organizing all the virtual meetings, staying on top of assignment, knowing if my kids are completing their assigned work & if it’s done well.”
  • “Balancing it all with working full time outside the house and still keeping up with cooking, shopping and cleaning.”
  • “Finding separate spaces for them to concentrate”

What are joys that you have discovered in teaching your children at home?

  • “Seeing how he learns and what he likes”
  • “Being able to observe how far they have progressed and seeing them learning”
  • “I enjoy having more time to read to my kids.”
  • “More spontaneity, ability to teach real life stuff”
  • “I LOVE having relaxed mornings! We’re not in a hurry, so it’s a much less stressful time of day now. I also enjoy having lunch together everyday.”
  • “None. Homeschooling is not for us and this has only caused more stress in a difficult time.”
  • “I enjoy being able to do more things like cooking with her without time constraints”

What has your teacher or school has done that you appreciate?

  • “My son’s teacher holds “office hours” if we have questions.”
  • “They do video challenges and have a daily video meet so the kids can talk to each other”
  • “My 7th grader’s math teacher spent 11/2 hours in a live video chat with just him explaining his math questions. I was so grateful!”
  • “A weekly show and tell time on google meets that allows my daughter to interact with friends and teacher.”
  • “The teachers have been amazing and most are understanding that not everyone is stuck at home and some of us still work full time on top of trying to keep up with everything.”
  • “What haven’t they done! From social media groups, to zoom meetings, phone calls and google classroom. I appreciate everything!”

For those that homeschool, has schooling changed for you? How?

  • “Our co-op had to close, and high school credit classes switched to online. ACT had to be rescheduled. No forest school. No field trips. No clubs. No schooling away from home. No cultural events to attend (choral concerts, plays, talks, art exhibits).”
  • “School itself hasn’t changed, just not being able to take “field trips” is what is different for us.”
  • “No field trips or friend play dates–used to have more free time for that, now stuck at home.”
  • “We can not attend our PE class anymore and we had to cancel 2 field trips”

If you are working from home and schooling at the same time, what is one tip that you would have for other families in the same situation?

  • “Separate rooms if you can”
  • “Create a routine and be consistent”
  • “Make a schedule that works for you and your unique situation. I wake up early so I can get work done. My husband and I trade off the schooling depending on the day of the week and his job responsibilities.”
  • “School does not have to happen on a strict hourly schedule. It’s helpful to have continuity with learning, but also important to acknowledge what your kid has lost, and how he might be lonely or sad or frustrated or unusually tired right now. Find ways to help them stay connected to their friends. “
  • “I still haven’t figured it out, my work is on the computer mostly but it’s hard for me to accomplish anything until after the kids are done school. I work more at night.”
  • “Set up a room for school and work. I am in the middle of our dining table so I can have a child on each side. Keep a schedule, but plan in brain breaks and walks.”

If you are teaching multiple children at different levels, what is one tip that you would have for other families in the same situation?

  • “Relax your screen time rules and don’t stress as much about structure. Teach your children how to do things without you.”
  • “HAVE older kids take turns helping or entertaining younger family members between their own assignments just once or twice a day.”
  • “Create separate workspaces if possible”
  • “I need some tips myself!”
  • “Let the older ones help the younger or find out who is best in each subject and make them the “expert” in that subject and help others.”
  • “Manage time well. Work with one before the others wake up. Stay patient and set small attainable goals for each child.”

If you could say one thing to your school or teacher right now, what would it be?

  • “I appreciate you even more than I did before!”
  • “I am so grateful for how you have stepped up and continue to support my children.”
  • “Thank you for all that you do for our children!!”
  • “We love you and are so grateful for how you have handled this situation!”
  • “You are doing great!”
  • “Thank you for your patience and for going out of your way to listen, empathize, and monitor and adjust.”
  • “You’re doing a good job and we miss you too!”

Take Aways

Did you notice some similarities in these answers? We did! So many expressed unease about schooling at home, and many are finding significant challenges they are rising to meet. We all miss our friends, play dates, field trips and routines. But in all of the busyness and stress of learning to school at home and being isolated, parents and kids are still finding new and somewhat unexpected joys. Keep it up!

About the Author
Maria Bassett is a former school orchestra teacher, turned homeschool mom. She and her husband homeschool their 3 sons and 1 daughter, who range from 4th grade through 9th grade. Believing children learn best when they are engaged and having fun, this family loves to take their homeschool on the road, around Greenville and beyond.

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