Homeschool, Here We Come!

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Homeschool, Here We Come!



I’d considered including this post in my “My Year of Less” series, because this homeschooling venture fits into “less public school” and will have the domino effect of less of a lot of things as the year goes on but, the fact is, this decision at this time was solely driven by COVID-19, and I want to offer what I hope is complete but non-laborious insight to my family’s decision.

From the get-go I want to honor the fact that all of the decisions around school and activities for the fall we’re all forced to make right now are unprecedented. Some of us (my family included) have significantly more latitude in these decisions by virtue of being a one income household, thereby having one parent at home to roll with whatever we as a family decide to do at any given moment. Being a one-income family isn’t for everyone (our income is lower than the median income for our state) but that is another post entirely. What I’m about to share is the stroll through our decision-making process. I’ll use words like “I”, “We”, “My kid(s)”, “Our family” to help drive home that this was a decision we made for us. It absolutely will not be the decision best for everyone, but it is for us, for now. 

In case anyone is lost, COVID-19 has thrown a grenade into life as we know it. Turns out, life as we know it is heavily dependent on schools for a number of reasons, and the safety and security of reopening schools in the fall is as up in the air as the certainties we’ve gleaned about the virus itself. Here in Massachusetts, for now, each town is “allowed” the “opportunity” to formulate what the next school year will look like for their district. The two words in quotation marks highlight the absolute insanity I feel around that particular issue. While I love that school districts across our state enjoy a grand amount of autonomy, the fact that the state government wanted no part in what will be a life-and-death decision has my blood boiling, not only as a parent, but as the wife of a school committee member and a friend to many teachers. Again, that’s best saved for another post. 

For our district, as of today, it seems like there will be three options parents can choose from in the fall: 1. 100{43d0d1614ecc8ec385b3ea9940a88627e26eaf9be88a0641399e0be0c80ef276} Remote Learning, 2. A hybrid model (parameters to be determined), and 3. 100{43d0d1614ecc8ec385b3ea9940a88627e26eaf9be88a0641399e0be0c80ef276} in school. Rather than get into what I feel are the overall merits and shortfalls of each of these options are on a community level, I will discuss each of them in reverse order and how they helped lead to our decision to homeschool. 

3. 100{43d0d1614ecc8ec385b3ea9940a88627e26eaf9be88a0641399e0be0c80ef276} in school is not necessary for us. I am home and my kids do not receive extensive services from the district. Aiden receives OT, but it turns out he needs a lot less OT when learning at home and has 100x more opportunities to move around during his day. 

2. A hybrid model is also not necessary for us. Again, I’m at home. Further, my kids regularly see their grandparents, and we would rather maintain those connections than have them in school with a specific group of kids for differing amounts of time and no longer be able to hang out with my parents. My kids will be able to be social with one another, with some other families keeping their kids home who are also heavily social distancing, and will be able to see not only my parents, but their dad and stepmom regularly. 

Further, the science, for us, does not support this model at all. The schools aren’t big enough or have proper ventilation systems or enough handwashing sinks to make this anything less than a dystopian novel. My kids do okay in masks for short bursts, but my child with ADHD grabbed my arms and said, “Do not make me go back and wear a mask all day.” Also, my oldest son’s hearing comes and goes and he often reads lips out of habit. Everyone in masks would be chaos for his ability to participate in anything (social or academic) effectively. 

Again, I’m home, so sending them to the building is not required for us. 

3. 100{43d0d1614ecc8ec385b3ea9940a88627e26eaf9be88a0641399e0be0c80ef276} Remote Learning is not for us. Anyone who’s met all three of my kids for even a few minutes knows how different they are from one another. Yet, they all resoundingly rejected online learning. While they each had some differing reasons, the one constant was that they just don’t do that well with that much concentrated screen time of anysort. To be sure, if I didn’t have the confidence or knowledge of homeschooling that I do have, this would be the option we would go with, but there was a not-so-secret option number 4 that emerged as the winner for our family.

The long and the short of it is I have like half a dozen friends in the Pioneer Valley who homeschool. Every one of these friends were from current or former church communities and include two families right here in my town. For the last seven years I’ve watched in awe as families I love and care for tackle homeschooling. 

I’ve opted for Classical Conversations (you can Google that) because it includes a community day piece along with tutors and is more structured than a lot of homeschooling options, all of which I know I’ll need for support. We’re using Saxon for math, as CC doesn’t have its own math component, and I’ve developed a thorough reading list for us to read together as a family and some for the kids to read on their own. 

The great thing is my kids will be doing a lot of learning together. Most homeschooling models are designed in such a way that kids of varying ages can learn together and each work to their current level. Paige and Aiden will be in 5th grade and Quinn will be in 7th and, aside from math, many things they’ll be learning are exactly the same. I feel extremely fortunate that this year’s history cycle for CC is American history from Indigenous peoples to the present. I dig American history and am excited to walk through this with my kids. We will homeschool for 3-4 hours a day, take field trips (thank God for my Old Sturbridge Village membership), cook and clean together, and BE THE INGALLS FAMILY TOGETHER! (okay, I got out of hand there…but, cut me some slack, I’m not usually optimistic about anything at all, ever).

What preceded was a list of our COVID-19-based decisions for homeschool, but I want to offer some supporting reasons why taking a break from public (or even private) school for this year may just have come at the right time for us. 

We have one child with ADHD and we heard more from his teachers this past year encouraging us to pursue medication than we did about what active engagement strategies they were going to employ. This child does not suffer from anxiety, tests within his grade level, and according to those same teachers is the “nicest” kid in class and a friend to everyone. We’ve always had one ear out toward alternative education options for him, as we sensed his unmedicated time at public school was narrowing, and this gives him a break from the pressures, especially since moving to the middle school means less than the already too-little recess he’s used to. 

We have one girl child who was besieged this year with girl drama. I was in the school more times to address this than I’ve ever been combined. I cannot even get into it all—it was awful. She’s not sad about bowing out for a year, and it will give us some time to work on confidence-building and problem solving. 

We have another child who is academically advanced and often bored in school. I will have time to assess him one-on-one, push him where he needs pushing, and let him explore other interests (in addition to the lip-reading problems masks provide). 

Our faith is a major supporting factor at this time as well. Secular culture and values are invading our lives (hello, look what happens when people can’t be money-producing machines…the government loses their minds and society seems to crumble) and I grieve the time stolen from us each school year that we could spend on family devotionals and Bible study as part of our day. This faith piece will be another post, but I wanted to transparently include it briefly as one of the supporting factors. 

So, there you have it, our plan for the 2020-2021 school year in a nutshell. In normal times, my husband being a member of the school committee would certainly complicate a homeschooling decision. However, this decision is pandemic related. This discussion began in our home around mid-May, and we finally submitted our proposal to the district on July 4th. This was not an overnight decision, and we discussed options so early because we didn’t want to make decisions in panic-mode.

There will be naysayers, but they are welcome to do as they wish with their children because, until further notice, this is a free country, and I am so thankful for the opportunities and privileges of our life together that allows for this decision. 

Be well, stay safe, and be kind to one another. 



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