Why We Chose Homeschool :: COVID-19 Edition

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Just like everyone else, COVID-19 has thrown my entire life, and the life of my family, for a loop.

One of the biggest ways COVID has affected us is in the education of my children. I send them to school for good reason; to be educated by people who have the tools and the training to do so. 

I had tears in my eyes when I withdrew my two-year-old from Pre-K. Oh how I would miss the surprise artwork that would come home, being able to watch her bond with teachers and classmates, and seeing a completely different side of her. She was an ANGEL at school. At home I’m usually waiting for her head to start spinning (I’m so serious). 

I’ll be honest here because I wouldn’t be me if I didn’t lay it all out completely. I always saw homeschoolers as…”tree huggers.” (And I’m so sorry I ever felt that way!). I saw them as people who were trying to keep their kids from society. People who viewed the world as something they didn’t want their children to be exposed to.  

I am here to admit though that I was wrong. 

In the past few weeks I’ve come across hundreds of homeschoolers, and they’re homeschooling because they’re seeking a better education for their children. Something more tailor made. Also, they want to preserve the family unit in a way that sometimes isn’t fully possible when your kids are gone from 8 a.m. – 3 p.m., and then off to sports or whatever else they have going on.

I can’t speak for everyone, because I’m just one mom. However…

These are some of the reasons I made the decision to homeschool.

1. Safety

My first option was for my kids to safely return to in-person instruction. However, I personally do not feel that right now my children would be safe at school. No one in my home has had a cold, fever, runny nose, or bug of any sort since schools closed in March.  This is unheard of. I’m usually sick every couple of weeks, courtesy of my kids. 

But I know that the second they return to school and come home sick, I’m going to panic. This is the age of COVID. I couldn’t in good faith feel comfortable with my children being around their grandparents if they were to return to school. There is just too high a chance for exposure. My parents had me when they were close to 40 and are now in their 70’s.  They’re my best friends. So, the decision to homeschool wasn’t only about my children’s safety, it was also about protecting my parents. 

2. Virtual/E-Learning is not conducive to learning for all children

I first signed up for the virtual academy through our district, but then I had a “come to my senses” moment. I realized that E-learning is not the best method of learning for all children. 

My second grader would probably be fine, but my 12-year-old would not. He doesn’t learn by sitting at a computer with any subject, and especially not with math. It was a complete nightmare in the spring. For him, he was going to be expected to sit at the computer and follow along with his regular schedule of 8 a.m. – 3 p.m. with all of the students who were in-person. It would’ve been a horrible experience and he would’ve gained nothing good from it. 

The more I thought about it, the more I knew I just couldn’t do that to him, or to myself. This situation is difficult enough. I don’t want school to be any harder than it has to. 

3. Children get to learn at their own pace

One thing with brick and mortar schools is children are all expected to pretty much learn the same way, and at the same pace. I’m so confused how that has ever been considered realistic! We’re expecting something of them that isn’t even possible for ourselves. 

One benefit of homeschooling is that I’m able to teach my children at their own pace, and in the way that is best for THEM. My son requires more time with math, while my daughter needs more attention with writing. She loves to write, but she needs more focus on her phonetic skills so she can be more confident putting down what she wants to say on paper. 

Meanwhile, my son has always been ahead and he tests well so it puts him in honors classes. The problem with that is he’s just a good test taker. Yes he is smart, quite frankly he’s brilliant, but he’s weak in math and doesn’t learn the same way his peers do.  He’s much more hands on, and that isn’t something he was getting in school.

4. Getting to choose our own curriculum

The biggest stress with switching to homeschooling was choosing a curriculum. The options are endless! I knew early on that I didn’t want the same program for all subjects, and definitely not for both kids. I looked for days for hours upon hours for what would be the best curriculum for each subject for each child. You don’t get that kind of choice without homeschool. 

My son’s history curriculum is a-m-a-z-i-n-g. I don’t have to drag him to it. Literature? I chose his books based on things I knew he’d like, that were also recommended for his age and grade. Beowulf? Not happening. One sure fire way to ruin reading for a child is to force them to read something they’re not interested in. I’ve dedicated a lot of my parenting journey to raising readers. My son’s best friend is kindle, and I don’t want anything to ruin that. It’s the same for my daughter. I chose some of my favorite books from when I was her age.

We are able to do so much more by homeschooling, and my kids are able to learn so much more having a curriculum that is more about teaching them, then designed for the masses.

5. A front seat to my children’s education

With my kids in school, it was hard to know how they were doing until a test was sent home with a good (or bad) grade. Or until progress reports came out. I went through all of first grade not knowing what my daughter was learning. There was no homework, which I loved, but I didn’t even know if she was reading on grade level. What about writing? And then there was two digit addition with regrouping (BETTER known as borrowing). Was she doing well in those areas? With my son, he always had A’s and B’s. However, I had no idea he was struggling with math.

With homeschooling, I am able to see every bit of their progress; where they’re strong, and where they’re weak. Then I can address those needs. If they don’t understand a specific concept then we don’t move on to the next one until the first one has been mastered. If they bomb a test in school, they receive a bad grade and maybe a chance to correct it, but things keep moving because schools have to teach a certain amount of material in a certain span of time.

I also love being able to see when the light bulb goes off in my kids brains when they understand a concept that has previously been lost to them. I don’t want them to just pass the test because they memorized the facts of the information. There’s a big difference between memorizing and learning. I want them to LEARN.

Grayson with the new printer we needed to homeschool

6. The ability to connect

When we are homeschooling, we have a lot of conversations about the material that they’re learning. The best part is that all of these conversations are initiated by my children. I don’t know if you know this, but getting a 12-year-old to talk to you can be like pulling teeth. But, Grayson, my 12-year-old, has talked my ear off about what he’s learning in Social Studies, and about Ghost Boys (a book he loves).

There have been so many eye opening conversations that show me who I have raised. There wasn’t ever enough time for me to see that before.

My daughter is a competitive athlete and at times spends a lot of time in the gym. Now that she’s homeschooling, we get more chances to connect than we ever had before. We spend so much more time reading and writing than she ever did when she was at school.  

Despite what it may feel like, there is good coming out of this crazy virus…

If it had not been for Covid-19, I would not be homeschooling. 

Before this, I was always counting down the days until Christmas or summer break because school was such a source of stress for me. I always felt the expectations that were placed on children (I’ll take homework until 10 p.m. for $100 Alex) were not conducive to families, or to children being able to be children.

Homeschooling my children has given us all the ability to bond in a way we never had before. We learn TOGETHER, they take breaks when they need one, I can see a problem faster and be able to correct it, and I’m able to more of a mother to them than I’ve ever been before.

I always thought I couldn’t homeschool because (OMG) they’d be home every.single.day. On top of that, I didn’t feel I had the ability or the patience to educate them. BUT, that’s not true. Homeschooling has actually been a breath of fresh air. In these past two weeks since we started, I’ve been able to see the best of not just my children, but myself. Homeschool isn’t just going to give them a better education, it’s going to give me my kids in a way I didn’t have them before.

What do you enjoy about homeschooling?

 

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Simone Praylow is wife and bestest friend in the world to Otis (better known as Odor) and mom to football and soccer loving Grayson 12, competitive cheerleader Elind, 7 and tantrum expert Ozzy Voltaire, 2. She is a native of New Jersey but relocated to Key West and later Columbia. As an overachiever, she believes learning is the best gift she can give her children and spends much of her time teaching her children at home (Grayson attends school, but the learning doesn't end when he leaves the classroom). Simone finds motherhood and family life are most easily managed by having a system in place for homelife, kids' schedules (including learning, screen time and reading) and meal planning. She is an avid reader who finds books are one of the best ways to unwind at the end of the day. She spends a lot of time boxing and at Pure Barre getting her burn on. You'll often find her buried in a book or on Pinterest getting ideas for her next project or yummy meals for the family menu.

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