You’ve decided that your children are going to stay at home to learn this year. Or, maybe it was decided for you by your school district or your governor! Here in California, our governor has mandated that in-person learning is out for many families, at least for now. Whether you like it or not, distance learning is happening for many public and private schools. So how do you move forward and make the best of at-home learning for your family?
If you have options in your school district to learn in-person or online, read this article about how to decide which type of schooling is best.
Decisions to be made about learning at home
First, find out what your school district has planned for your children. Go to their website and find out what plans have been made so far. Here are some of the questions to ask:
- What will the schedule be?
- How much time will my children be spending on the computer?
- What will the learning management system be?
- What access will the students have to teachers if they are having trouble with the subject matter and need extra help?
- Are computers available for families that need one?
If you have middle school or high school students, there are some additional questions you should ask:
- Will there be a regular schedule or block schedule? Meaning, do they have every subject every day, or are they putting the subjects in larger chunks of time less days? Our district is considering having 3-4 periods per day for high school.
- How is the school planning to handle advanced/honors/AP classes?
- How is the school planning to teach science labs?
Which learn-at-home option is right for your family?
Most people have three main options for stay-at-home learning in 2020.
- You can go ahead with your school’s planned distance learning
- You can enroll them in an alternate online option
- You can homeschool them
Let’s go over your choices, shall we?
Public School Distance Learning
Here is the main choice for most people. You keep your children enrolled in their current school.
This is the most obvious choice and the easiest choice and probably the cheapest choice. Review the questions I listed for you above that you should figure out about your school.
Are you happy with the answers? If so, terrific! Keep them in their school, and focus on how to make it work for your family. Find out the schedule and plan your family’s time accordingly. Make sure you have a good space for your child to learn while at home.
If you aren’t so happy with your school’s answers, then you should look into your other options. The next easiest choice is to sign them up for an established online school. Many parents are leaning towards this option because they are concerned that their school district isn’t ready to provide an excellent education online.
Teaching online is very different from teaching in person. Most public school teachers are trying very hard to figure it out and get ready for the school year. However, there really isn’t enough time to do this well. Some excellent and tech-savvy teachers are ready, and some school districts have been working diligently to have everything set up.
Other school districts, frankly, don’t know what they are doing. Or they are trying hard, but there simply isn’t enough time. Some teachers aren’t comfortable with technology. And some teachers are so overwhelmed with their own children or other responsibilities during this difficult time that they haven’t had time to get ready.
That’s why a lot of parents are signing their kids up for online school. There are well-established virtual schools that have been delivering education online for years. Their teachers are trained to work virtually and they have curriculum ready to go. During our virtual school board meeting last week, our school district told us that it takes nine months to create a quality online class. Nine months! Most teachers have not been working on this for nine months.
If you want to investigate this option, you have choices.
Virtual public school
Virtual private school
There are also many private school options online. You’ll need to do some research to find the right one for your family. Some consist of recorded lessons that your child does in a self-paced manner, while others are teacher-led and are more like going to school, but virtually.
Here are some resources to help you start your search:
Unfortunately, many online schools are already full since so many families are going in this direction this year.
Your third main choice for learning at home is homeschooling. By homeschooling, I mean you, as the parent, choose the curriculum for your children and oversee their learning.
This is the most challenging choice for the parent. It’s also the most flexible choice, and can provide your kids with individualized learning at their level.
There are several advantages to homeschooling:
- Learning is at your child’s level and can be paced for their needs.
- You can homeschool using low-tech sources such as books, pencil, and paper so that your kids aren’t staring at screens all day.
- There is also the option of choosing online courses that are teacher-led. This can work great for teaching high school level courses that you don’t feel you could teach yourself.
- A homeschool schedule is flexible. You can start at whatever time you want, which means that you can let tweens and teens sleep in a bit. You also can choose to make some subjects long and some subjects short to meet your kids’ needs. Many families schedule their week so that some days they do a science block and other days they focus on history – it’s up to you! Another popular choice is to do a four-day week and save the fifth day for special projects or outings. The possibilities are endless.
I have been researching homeschooling like crazy and have decided it’s the right choice for my family this year. Let me share with you one of the best resources I’ve found:
There is also an awesome collection of resources available from my friends at Ultimate Bundles! The Ultimate Homeschooling Bundle is available July 27-31, 2020. Click here to learn about the Ultimate Homeschooling Bundle.
My next article is going to be about homeschooling and how to get started. Please join my email list to stay informed!
I hope you found this article helpful! Here are some free printables you might be interested in: