As we start the new school year, there may be many parents who wonder whether homeschooling might be a good choice this year, given the continued uncertainties about future lockdowns.
This year, many families observed their children struggling with the patchwork of online learning, “quadmesters”, and compressed curriculum. This affected especially elementary-aged children. Many students have not made academic progress and are parents and teachers will have to figure out how to fill the ‘pandemic learning gap’. Some parents have hired tutors during the summer so that their children could catch up.
School just started today, but we are already hear the drums of the looming lockdowns and dire predictions for the fall. At this point we do not know whether these possible lockdowns will yet again burden students with another year of uncertain academics and prolonged masking mandates.
From a learning perspective we know that students need stability and consistency to thrive. Homeschooling provides a solid, dependable, and consistent education that is immune to situational changes and not affected by provincial lockdown mandates.
Parents might feel daunted by the idea of homeschooling, especially after having had challenging experiences with their children at home for long stretches throughout the year.
What parents experienced with their children at home this year was not homeschooling, it was a flawed band aid solution. They were dependent on a curriculum and schedule that they had no control over, and that is the opposite of homeschooling.
In homeschooling, parents and students have control over what curriculum to learn, how to schedule the day, and at what pace the material is covered. This leaves both parent and student with an immense amount of freedom and also reduces stress considerably. If your child is struggling with reading, you have the freedom to read together as long as you want during the day, shifting focus onto an area that needs special attention. If your child masters another subject quickly, you have the freedom to move on rather than have your student keel over from boredom.
When I meet parents and they learn that we have been homeschooling for over 10 years they often exclaim: “That’s great – but I could never do that!” Interestingly, I often have a similar thought about the amount of work it takes to send a child to school: get them ready in the morning, prepare their lunch, go to work and enter a different head space, pick them up after school, bring them to additional programs, help them with homework that I might not have the context for, ensure that they are ready for the next day, and then do it all again. That sounds exhausting to me. All that to say, educating children is work, whether you choose to do so at home or through an other educational choice.
Homeschooling is a matter of making a deliberate educational choice. Once you have made this choice, it is simply a matter of:
Purpose– being clear about why you choose to homeschool
Plan – make a plan
Process – start the process.
So what do parents who want to start homeschooling need to do?
You might think that it is too late to start homeschooling now that the year has already begun. But you can choose to homeschool at any point in the year. So it is never ‘too late’ or ‘too early’. If your child is of kindergarten age, there is no need to inform anyone of your choice as compulsory schooling only starts in grade 1. For grade 1 and up simply submit a letter of your intent to homeschool to your local school board (see link for a form letter here). Ensure that both parents agree with the decision as this provides a strong foundation on which to build your year. On my site I have helpful resources that will get you started with choosing curriculum, making schedules, and connecting with other homeschoolers.