“Wow, this past year has been crazy.” You’ve probably heard that sentiment over and over recently, and we all know it’s an understatement. Crazy, yes—as well as overwhelming, hard, stressful, painful, and unlike anything most of us have ever experienced.
As a parent you were forced into doing school at home. For some, it was an incredibly rewarding experience and their kids actually flourished. But for many more, school at home brought frustration as problems mounted.
Based on your year of pandemic schooling, you might think that homeschooling would never work long-term for your family.
Parents face problems no matter how their children are educated, but many of the problems you encountered while pandemic schooling are not actually homeschooling problems. Those problems are actually pandemic issues, so you didn’t get an accurate picture of what homeschooling is really like.
6 Pandemic Schooling Problems
Homeschoolers will tell you, pandemic schooling is not the same as homeschooling. And as you decide what to do for the upcoming school year, it's important to make a distinction between homeschool problems and pandemic problems.
1. Problem: The Technical Issues Are Overwhelming
Pandemic schooling depends nearly completely on technology, and for many families that is a problem. Reliable internet service can’t be guaranteed whether it’s because of where you live or the forces of nature. Computers, wi-fi, and technology simply don’t work sometimes if they are even available to you.
Although homeschoolers use technology in some capacity, there are other ways to teach children. Homeschooling doesn’t require you to be dependent on technology in the way pandemic schooling does. Technology is a tool in an entire educational toolbox of resources and methods.
2. Problem: My Child’s Developmental and Educational Needs Were Ignored
You may have a fidgety first grader, or a teen who struggled to focus. All of a sudden your hands-on learner was required to do everything online. Or maybe your child has a learning disability that wasn’t addressed properly with this new way of learning.
Pandemic schooling was a reaction to a crisis and not a well-thought out plan to educate children in the way they learn best.
Young children are not designed to sit in front of a computer for long periods of time. Concrete learners need to touch and feel, build and explore. For many students, pandemic schooling was neither enjoyable or effective.
Homeschool parents can be sensitive to the developmental and personal needs of their children. Many choose to incorporate a physical activity between subjects and activity-based learning opportunities. Others emphasize short, focused lessons in the early years. Homeschooling allows you to be a student of your students, so you can make adjustments as needed.
3. Problem: We Didn’t Choose This. I Have a Job!
If you are a public or private school parent, you were not given a choice about where your children would be expected to learn during the pandemic. The choice was made for you and your kids, and it was made suddenly. There was no time to prepare your kids, and there was no time to thoughtfully consider different options. Is it any wonder that so many families struggled?
When you choose to homeschool, you also choose how and when you will do it—and it doesn’t mean you can’t have a job as well. Some homeschool parents continue to work outside the home, while many find options to work from home.
It’s amazing how creative you can be when it comes to both homeschooling and working. Homeschool parents have become entrepreneurs, virtual assistants, customer service representatives, salespeople, writers, bloggers, and content creators. There are so many possibilities.
Many homeschool parents have discovered and developed skills they never knew could be both rewarding and profitable.
It might not always be easy, but homeschooling while working is possible. And it doesn’t have to look like the experience you had during this past year.
4. Problem: My Children Aren’t Getting Any Socialization
When parents decide to homeschool, they are often asked “What about socialization?” Socialization means the activity of mixing socially with others; the process of learning to behave in a way that is acceptable to society. Research has proven that neither of those are an issue with homeschoolers.
Often what people really want to know is will my children have friends? Are they going to be socially awkward? Will they know how to interact with their peers? Will they experience community?
The pandemic era, with its lock-downs, masks, and social distancing rules affected all children no matter how they were educated. We are relational. Generations of homeschoolers have intentionally addressed the concerns about socialization by
building family relationships
connecting with peers through clubs, co-ops, and classes
participating in sports
serving alongside others in the community
being active in their faith communities
doing real-life alongside their families and one another
Pandemic schooling disconnects kids from relationships while homeschooling (without the constraints of a pandemic) connects kids with relationships.
5. Problem: My Child is Depressed or Anxious
Have any of your children been dealing with mental health issues this past year? They are not alone. Medical experts have seen an increased number of children and teens with depression and anxiety. For some, the pandemic revealed issues that were already present, while others are experiencing it for the first time. According to the article Too young to be stressed: Adolescent mental health in the COVID-19 pandemic,
“For adults, childhood can seem like a time that is free of stress and responsibilities.
But ask any child or teen and they’re likely to paint an entirely different picture.
Before the global pandemic, life to this generation generally consisted of hours of nightly homework, endless worry about grades, sports practice, band rehearsals and weekends filled with family obligations.
Now, as we continue to face the COVID-19 health crisis, most of these stress factors exist along with even more fears about safety, stability and the unknown.”
Look at the list of issues contributing factors above: hours of nightly homework, endless worry about grades, sports practice, band rehearsals and weekends filled with family obligations. Those stressors were there before the pandemic began. The current health crisis is amplifying the pressure students were already feeling while adding new fears and insecurities.
Homeschooling can actually help alleviate the stress kids feel today to perform. And it can be their oasis of calm and routine in a chaotic world.
6. Problem: We Are Miserable and Driving One Another Crazy!
If you have felt this way during the past year, remember that the primary contributing factors center on Covid-19 and not necessarily on homeschooling:
the stress and fear caused by a global pandemic
helplessness in face of restrictions
loss of jobs or wages
a sudden, new normal including more time than you are used to being together
inability to get out of the house
dealing with other problems caused by the pandemic
Most homeschoolers have never faced an inability to find food items or toilet paper while educating their kids at home! Like you, homeschoolers have been restricted from where they could go and from being with others. All of us have been affected in new ways.
The problems of pandemic schooling were exacerbated by the problems of living through a pandemic and politically charged times. It wasn’t a true picture of homeschooling.
Your family's world has been completely turned upside down. You didn't have time to prepare for the change! But when you choose to homeschool, you can make a plan. You can intentionally build community. You can find creative ways to both educate your children and work if that is what you want or need to do.
You can educate your children in a way that is best for both you and them and experience the joy and rewards that come through homeschooling.
See the Pandemic as an Opportunity to Rethink Education
Reflect on this past year and consider:
What if the pandemic was not just a hardship but an opportunity: a chance to reevaluate what is best for your kids and to embrace a slower lifestyle?
What have you learned about your children and yourself? Did this time reveal character, relational, or educational issues that need to be addressed?
Did it bring your family closer or drive you apart? Why do you think this happened? Did you either realize that something was missing or begin to savor that which you have but is fleeting?
Homeschooling during a pandemic has been hard for everyone—both long-time homeschoolers and brand-new, forced to school at home homeschoolers. Don’t let a negative experience with having your kids do school at home keep you from homeschooling. Pandemic schooling problems are not homeschooling problems.