As parents are unsure of what the next school year will look like, some are now considering the option of homeschooling their children.
Amanda Davis, of Maryville, Illinois, homeschools her two children. She said parents considering homeschooling due to COVID-19 should be aware that homeschool is very different from online learning, which many students and parents experienced after schools closed due to the pandemic in the spring.
“[With online learning], they’re basically doing homework with their child during COVID. Once you’re the homeschooling teacher, you’re also choosing the curriculum, you are implementing that, you’re scheduling it out to make sure that it gets done within the right amount of time, you’re adjusting to the needs of your child,” Amanda said. “And so I think it’s very doable for parents, but they need to go in with their eyes open so that it’s not overwhelming.”
Amanda said she decided to homeschool when her son Judah was going into kindergarten because, in her experience as a substitute teacher, she saw that students spent a lot of time listening to teachers talk. She did not think Judah would do well in that environment due to his learning style.
“When you made [Judah] sit still and listen to someone talk at that age, his mind would go do other things and he couldn’t tell you anything. But if I let him play with Legos or blocks or something while I read to him, he could almost quote it back to you. He’d remember everything if you let him do something with his hands while he listened,” Amanda said. “And so I could just see a trainwreck there and a bad early experience for him, getting into trouble because they would think he wasn’t paying attention.”
Even though she has teaching experience, Amanda said that did not give her much of an advantage.
“I think that homeschooling is really different from classroom teaching. I would say there are very few skills that I was taught in my teacher education classes in college that translate to homeschooling,” Amanda said.
Discipline is more important than training to make homeschooling a success, according to Amanda.
“I think that anybody who can discipline themselves, whether they’ve had … a college education or not could homeschool their children as long as they truly want the best for their children and they’re willing to discipline themselves,” Amanda said. “It’s the people who are not willing to have the discipline to get the work done that I think are not really well-suited to homeschooling.”
Amanda’s son Judah, 16, said he believes homeschooling has improved his education.
“One of my favorite parts would be the amount of control over your schedule you have. It’s less of a set day, where from this hour to this hour I’m in this class. [Instead], I have like, ‘I need to get this done by then,’ and so I work through that,” Judah said.
Judah also said he likes being able to do schoolwork Monday through Thursday, leaving Fridays for family trips, which he compared to the field trips other kids take in school.
“We’ve gone to museums before, which has been nice. It’s almost been like family field trips in a way. We’ve gone to memorial sites, all kinds of outdoor places. We’ve gone hiking and all kinds of stuff, which has been a really nice way, almost in getting field trips,” Judah said.
Judah said while sometimes he feels behind socially, he doesn’t feel like it has had a negative impact on his life.
“I’m not caught up on everything, as a lot of other kids [are]. But at the same time, with my personality being more introverted, it doesn’t bother me as much,” Judah said.
While a lack of socialization is a common concern among parents considering homeschooling, there are some possible solutions. Cindy Conrad, a mother of two from Hazel, Kansas, said her children had social interaction through homeschool groups, as well as classes within the community. Some groups are now meeting virtually due to COVID-19.
“They’ll meet once a week, or they’ll have other activities as well. Like, we’ll just meet and the kids get together and play, but then sometimes they’ll be like, ‘let’s all go to the pumpkin patch, let’s all go to the museum,’ kind of activities,” Conrad said. “And then we did other things like the city swim team and archery and art classes in the community.”
Conrad’s 17-year-old attends Butler Community College, and is adjusting well, according to Conrad.
“After two semesters, I think it’s been straight A’s, so that tells you something,” Conrad said.
According to Business Insider, a 2009 study showed that 67 percent of homeschooled students graduated from college, compared to 59 percent of public school students, 54 percent of Catholic school students and 51 percent of private school students.
Visit parents.com to find resources for homeschooling.