Thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, one of the many life areas that will never be the same is how we educate children in America. Between 3% and 4% of children in K-12 were homeschooled in pre-pandemic America. At the start of the pandemic, homeschooling became the rule instead of the exception.
Parents who never considered homeschooling now see it as a viable option, while other parents will be happy when traditional school is back to normal. However, I would caution all parents against a decision based on the "homeschooling" most American students experienced throughout the pandemic. Our teachers did their best to prepare students and parents for attending school entirely online even when they lacked the training themselves.
To the parents that found it difficult to take over as a teaching assistant this year, you have my permission to give yourself a break! But, if your child enjoyed the homeschool experience, there may be an option that will work for your family. For parents who found the courage to explore permanent homeschooling, look at all your options and try to enjoy the experience!
Most Homeschoolers fit into three categories:
First, the free thinkers, commonly known as the unschooler or free-range parents, believe that children learn better from their life experiences. They are of the thinking that the world can teach their kids better than any classroom.
Pros: The child will lead with a focus on a child's interests and learn through hands-on experiences. This type of learning environment can allow children with attention defect disorders to thrive. Children taught in this manner develop their knowledge and education through first-hand experiences. Examples include working on a farm, helping a parent or grandparent repair cars, or managing a home. In these settings, children often interact with people outside their peer group, allowing them to develop interpersonal skills outside their age range.
Cons: Because this type of schooling is so open to interpretation, it can be hard to transition into more traditional educational programs. It can be hard to reconcile this form of teaching into a recognized grading system and help children develop peer-level social skills.
2. Traditional Homeschoolers
Second, for traditional homeschoolers, the child's classroom is generally around the kitchen table with siblings, and they can choose their materials needed for teaching.
Pros: Parents have much more control over influences in their child's life from spiritual to ideological and scientific knowledge. The parent sets the curriculum, allowing more flexible schedules and more focus on a child's interest area. These homeschool parents can join co-ops with other parents to trade, buy, and sell teaching materials, knowledge, and teaching hours.
Cons: Parents are responsible for the cost of books and other teaching material. Depending on your location, finding a homeschool group can be difficult. Ensuring that your child achieves the time to practice proper social skills can be difficult for the parent. While homeschooling applicants are more accepted by the military and most universities, it can still be complicated and confusing for a young homeschooled adult.
3. Public Homeschool
The third is the public homeschool option, a state and federal-funded option that cater to elementary through high school education.
Pros: Most parents will find this option not only the most cost-effective but requires less parental involvement than other methods. It meets all state and local requirements for education. Your child will receive the same diploma they would if attending a local high school. Children are allowed to participate in all extracurricular activities through the local school districts. There is a well-defined safety net to assure that the child's education does not fall solely on the parents. The open schedule allows the child to pursue activities outside the classroom. The teacher and student pool aren't limited to a geographical area. Children at the high school level can start attending college or trade school while still enrolled.
Cons: Some children will find this style of teaching a challenge. For a child to succeed in this setting, the child must be organized and enough of a self-starter to meet the teacher's deadlines. This homeschooling method also requires reliable access to the internet, which can be hard to come by depending on where you live.
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As a mother that homeschooled four boys, I think that they did an excellent job. I watched a Kindergarten teacher work with a class of children through Google classroom, and how they kept that many kindergarteners' attention for that long is beyond me! I also have a Special Education teacher in my family who continued to teach her contained classroom online, and that is a miracle!
Our teacher's not only set-up a system to teach America's students from home practically overnight, but they continued to out-do themselves in the 20-21 school year by staying simultaneously ready to teach either online or in-person. But remember, this homeschool set-up was the result of a national emergency. There were stressors outside of the education system that teachers and parents managed to navigate and still provide our children with a robust educational experience.