With conventional schools shut down across America due to the coronavirus, many parents are considering homeschooling, but have questions about how to begin and how to get the best results for their children.
Someone who has answers for these parents is Sarah Bailey, founder of Love of Learning Homeschool Learning Center, which is located in the Sacramento, California area and which provides supplemental classes for homeschooling families that support and enrich what is taught at home.
She has talked to parents dealing with school closures and has advised them not to panic.
“Many parents have never had their children home all day,” says Bailey, so it is “a great time to slow down and get to know your child.” “Read books together, go on walks and bike rides, play games and eat meals together.”
When parents make the decision to homeschool their children, she says that there are plenty of resources available for homeschoolers: “There is so much out there to choose from. I tell parents to begin with the end in mind. What kind of adult do you want your child to be and go from there. What’s nice about homeschooling is that if a certain curriculum isn’t working for your child you can switch it at anytime.”
Bailey assures parents, “You don’t have to do it all yourself and you don’t have to be a teacher.”
Indeed, there are lots of different learning choices for homeschoolers today, including online learning, which has become extremely important during this crisis.
Author and homeschooling expert Kerry McDonald says, “there are many online learning resources that families can take advantage of, including many that are free.”
For instance, Dexter Online School is a project of Dexter private school located in Wichita Falls, Texas. According to the school, in response to the coronavirus and “the millions of out of school students across the world,” the “online program is meant to help students continue learning during school closures.” The program will be free at least through the beginning of May.
Specifically, students can access “online curriculum, live-streamed lectures via Twitch, peer grading, course leaderboards, social forums, and peer to peer messaging,” while parents “have access to a parent portal to keep track of student progress and receive weekly progress reports via email.”
“Homeschool families across the United States are demanding more rigorous curriculum, better online tools, and safe community learning spaces”, says Dexter head Michael Olaya. “This competitive pressure has led to the creation of categorically new types of schooling that are driving quality up and costs down.”
He predicts, “We’re about to cross the affordability chasm where most American families will finally be able to opt-out of the broken government school system.”
Indeed, as parents consider the many homeschooling resources available in the marketplace, Sarah Bailey warns “don’t just public-school at home.”
“That is hard to do because it is all we know,” she says, so parents should educate themselves by reading up on homeschooling “to see what speaks to you, and then educate your children.”
Bailey advises patience: “Don’t stress too much and enjoy your time with your child. You are in this for the long run not the sprint, so set a nice pace and don’t worry what everyone else thinks.”
Current homeschooling parents “stumbled, failed at things, and had some breakdowns along the way,” but patience will pay off.
“Many homeschoolers are outperforming their peers in academics and are more socially secure than their public school peers,” observes Bailey. “You won’t close any doors to your child’s future by homeschooling, and, in fact, you will free them to become who they want to be.”
And what about the future of homeschooling after the coronavirus crisis subsides?
“Most parents that homeschool never planned on homeschooling,” says Bailey, and points out “we switched over because the public school system wasn’t working for our families.”
With more parents exposed to homeschooling because of the coronavirus crisis, Bailey predicts: “I think we will see homeschooling continue to grow in America as long as our schools keep teaching things that parents don’t agree with and school violence continues to rise. There is so much more support for homeschooling now and people are seeing the benefits.”
To new homeschooling parents, Bailey emphasizes, “You will never regret spending time with your children.”
As parents realize that it is possible to educate their children without the conventional public schools, American education may never be the same.