I have two elementary-aged kids that are currently in public school. We have a lot of respect and gratitude for their school, our district, and for the way our school has tackled home learning.
The winter (pre-pandemic) we had already decided to homeschool my oldest who was entering middle school this fall. We have always been open to alternative options if we thought it was the best decision for a particular child.
But, now we are strongly considering also homeschooling my younger daughter who we had originally planned to keep in her public elementary school. Here’s why my family is thinking of homeschooling next year due to the current COVID-19 pandemic:
But first, here’s a couple disclaimers:
- This article is about what I’m thinking might work best for my family. Of course, different families have different considerations and needs and what we are choosing might not be what works best for them.
- This article is not about criticizing public education or the public education plans for the fall. I’m thankful for our many public educators and their hard work to keep education running during a difficult time.
Why we might choose to homeschool next fall
It is unlikely that school will be normal this fall.
Molly Spearman, South Carolina Education Superintendent has stated that it is doubtful that school will look normal in the fall and that the state is working on creative solutions for this fall. The potential plans (dependent on disease spread) include ideas for socially distancing students such as staggering attendance to reduce class size or continuing e-learning from home. In addition, teachers will have new challenges as they work to remediate students who have fallen behind or lack educational resources at home.
If next year’s school situation includes learning at home (part-time or full-time), homeschooling will allow me to make sure my kids learn to their potential.
If I have to school at home in the fall (part-time or full-time), I would rather be in charge of my kids education myself. I would like to make sure that they are learning in a way that both challenges them and includes more than the minimum of subjects. While I’m sure the schools will do their best in the fall, they may be limited by the wide variety of needs that they need to meet and there may be a lot of time spent on remedial work that my children don’t need.
Homeschooling is more flexible than pandemic schooling.
If I’m going to end up possibly schooling my kids at home, I may as well be able to enjoy the benefits of homeschooling’s flexibility. You can take extra field trips, study topics that are of special interest to your child, and slow down or speed up as appropriate.
You also get to choose how much time your kid spends on screens, completing worksheets, or joining Zoom calls.
Homeschooling allows our family to stabilize school at a time when it feels uncertain.
I remember the day that my phone pinged a notice that school was closing. I was at the library trying to stock us up on books, and you could see the shock as parents across the room heard the news.
Since that day, we have spent weeks wondering how our kids would be graded, if they would return to school, and more.
I’m not sure that I want my children to go to school each day not knowing whether school will be open the next day or whether they will suddenly be on a new schedule or not allowed on the playground.
In addition, my youngest child struggles with transitions and changed schedules. She may have trouble adjusting if school feels uncertain from week to week.
Homeschooling doesn’t change the fact that we are living through a difficult, uncertain time, but it does allow my family to take control of school and stabilize it best we can for our children.
My kids have thrived while learning at home.
While it’s not always been easy, my kids have thrived while doing school at home. They enjoy being able to work hard to finish assignments and play outside once their work is completed. They seem better rested and less stressed.
My husband and I both work from home so we’ve been able to keep the kids learning while still working. Both of us enjoy learning and don’t mind relearning how to do a math problem or correcting a writing assignment.
What would make us still consider public school for the fall
We haven’t made our final decision on homeschooling both kids. These are some factors that will be part of our decision:
What the actual state of the pandemic is in the fall
If it seems highly likely that school will look relatively normal next fall and will not be likely to be disrupted, we would strongly consider still enrolling our youngest in public school.
What South Carolina’s plans look like for the fall
We are watching South Carolina to see what official plans they will announce. These are some of the questions that I’m wondering.
- Will the kids still have class in school every day?
- In the event that children are learning part-time/full-time at home, what will learning at home look like?
- Will there be any health requirements that might make school a stressful environment such as children not being able to be near each other or having to wear masks during class?
- Will gifted and enrichment programs in the arts and academics still continue as normal?
- Will the children be able to enjoy clubs such as drama or music?
- Will instruction be kept on grade level for children that don’t need remedial help?
- Will children be allowed to go on field trips?
How we are preparing to homeschool
We are preparing now just in case because early preparation gives us the greatest flexibility.
We researched curriculum and homeschool styles.
There is an overwhelming amount of information and opinions about homeschooling curriculum and styles on the internet. We spent some time figuring out what types of options would work best for our family so that we would be ready to go if we need to homeschool. I’ve found that joining the Facebook groups related to my top curriculum choice has been helpful to see what I could expect if we choose to use that curriculum.
I also have learned that there are a lot of homeschool related sales this time of year. It might be hard to know what’s a good fit for your family, but if you know for sure what you want you might be able to get a good deal with a decent return policy.
We researched how to legally homeschool in South Carolina.
In South Carolina there are three options under the law that allow you to legally homeschool. The third option is the most popular because it is the simplest, which is to register with a homeschool association. We will also need to formally withdraw our children before the school year starts.
You can also learn at home via public online charter schools in South Carolina. This option is not homeschooling but it is another option for parents that want their children to learn from home. If you were to chose this option, you would need to formally enroll your child in the public online charter school of your choice.
Public online charter school is free but may require that your child owns a computer and has internet access. It also will have more formal attendance requirements and you will be required to use the provided curriculum.
We budgeted money for homeschooling.
Homeschooling isn’t free. We budgeted money for curriculum, laptops, a local co-op, association fees, and music lessons. You can homeschool inexpensively, but most people will spend more than they would on public school fees.
Taking time to research the costs involved for my family now makes it easier to know whether this choice is one that works for our family. We also know what preferred services and opportunities have deadlines or specials before fall so that we can factor those in our decision.
For more information: our homeschool guide lists local associations, co-ops, lessons, and more.
That’s our family’s story about why we might homeschool this fall. Are you considering it yourself? We would love to hear your story in the comments.