We are considering the virtual learning option that our school district is (as far as we currently know) offering this year. We’ve been homeschooling for a few years now (before the pandemic started) and it’s worked well for us, for the most part. In many ways, we were lucky that we were already teaching our kids at home when the schools moved to all virtual last year as the numbers of COVID-19 cases rose. From my understanding, lots of families feel that their kids missed out on most or even all of the 2020-2021 school year because their districts couldn’t shift to an on-line format quickly enough. And while our kids certainly missed out on a few things, we don’t think that the shift felt as profound as it could have had they been in school. Well, other than the fact that their dad working from home has meant he has been much more accessible to them through the day, which is, of course, an overall (huge) positive.
Prior to the pandemic starting, we had been relying on a few activities (namely sports and church) to round out our kids learning and which got us outside of the house and into a larger community. Of course those mostly ceased last year (although we were lucky that we had religious education that pivoted to on-line pretty quickly and seamlessly).
And so it would be beneficial to us to be able to engage with something like the district’s virtual option. While I trust that my husband and I have been doing a good (nay, great) job educating our kids, it would be nice to also have a little of the pressure taken off us.
It’s not that we’ve never had our children in traditional schools. We have. But we had a few experiences at those places (which I think are unique and specific to our county) that made us feel like there was a profound disconnect between what we wanted for our children and what was going on at those traditional schools. I felt very distant from my kids for those 6 to 8 hours a day and when they returned to us, it felt as though much of their time and energy during the school day was absorbed in things other than learning. The schools we sent them to didn’t seem to prioritize learning. Especially for the elementary school years, it felt like they were always one mediocre teacher away from a wasted year. (And in a few cases they had teachers who were less than mediocre.)
I used to be a teacher so it wasn’t hard to make the decision to homeschool them. One of the main challenges we have faced as homeschoolers is staying in compliance with the state’s regulation. It has felt like a massive burden on us. We are hoping that, in part, virtual school will absolve us from constantly feeling like we have to prove to someone that we are doing what’s best for our kids by showing them a bunch of paperwork.
We are hopeful that, with our kids still being in our home, one teacher (much less a classmate) won’t have as much (negative) influence over our kids’ day, week, year. We are hoping that with them learning in our home, we can increase the positive experiences (while decreasing any potential negative ones). Certainly, having two parents (plus the grandparents who the kids see pretty much daily) in the home which is also their classroom has a greater chance of mitigating (negative) impacts. I’ll post later on in the school year on how it’s going. Fingers crossed.