Back-to-school is just around the corner. In light of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, most public school districts across the country are opting for virtual classrooms or a hybrid approach combining online with limited in-classroom instruction.
In many instances, reopening plans are muddled and confusing. That leaves millions of parents in a lurch. Ultimately, what will the fall 2020 semester look like for K-12 education? Just days away from the start of school in most districts, it’s still anybody’s guess.
That uncertainty has led to an unprecedented surge in interest in homeschooling. In fact, many parents have already made the decision: They’re homeschooling this year, even if it breaks them.
That decision makes sense. Faced with schooling at home or homeschooling, flocks of parents are choosing the latter. After all, if we must do the heavy lifting of educating our kids at home through a remote-learning environment, why not take it all the way and home educate? That at least affords plenty of flexibility and control.
Are you fed up with your school district’s reopening plan (or lack of a plan)? Then temporarily homeschooling for the 2020-2021 school year could be a great idea. As intimidating as it sounds, you can make homeschooling work for your family.
Fall 2020: The great homeschool surge?
Just 3 percent of families nationwide homeschool, but one-third of parents said they are “very likely” to consider homeschooling in a recent USA Today poll. The evidence is in, and families are crowding to the homeschool option. In North Carolina, for example, the government website for registering homeschool families stopped working recently because so many parents were logging on.
Homeschool families choose this lifestyle for a variety of reasons, including the chance to customize an academic environment for each child, provide a safer environment, and impart a set of values. But this new horde of parents is choosing it because the alternative is so horrible: Uncertainty. Forced mask wearing. Staggered class schedules. A mandated remote learning schedule (a type of de facto homeschooling anyway). Not to mention the risk of kids and teens contracting COVID-19 in the petri dish that is a school building!
To help you navigate the challenging waters of homeschooling for the first time, keep in mind these five tips.
1. Don’t over-think your curriculum
There are so many homeschool curriculums to choose from, and at surprisingly reasonable prices. If finances are particularly tight, consider buying a used curriculum set through a website like Homeschool Buyers Co-Op or Homeschool Classifieds. Before choosing a curriculum, it’s wise to assess your child’s learning style. The Homeschool Legal Defense Association has an excellent resource for that here.
2. You can’t replicate a traditional school environment, and that’s OK. In fact, it’s great!
Your homeschool classroom will look a lot different than a traditional school classroom. Accepting this fact will save you plenty of frustration! Your routine and the structure of your day will be far more fluid. It can take weeks to establish a “new normal” routine for your home school, so give yourself grace and be patient.
3. Be sure to connect with a support group
Social isolation is one of the biggest common threads of 2020 so far. But as a new homeschooler, you can’t afford to be isolated. For a new homeschool family, one of the best ways to connect is through a local Facebook group. Finding one is easy enough: Just type your locality and “homeschoolers” into the Facebook search bar. An added bonus here is that you can arrange in-person meetings with other homeschool families, based on your comfort level and theirs.
4. Enjoy the flexibility and build your school day however you see fit
The good news is that you don’t need to keep to a rigid six- or seven-hour school day schedule with homeschooling. Many homeschool parents opt for a condensed school day—even as short as two hours—to make it all work with their schedules. Or have a three-day schoolwork instead of the traditional five, work in a school day on the weekends, or don’t start homeschooling during the day until the afternoon to better fit a work schedule.
5. Know that the finances will work themselves out
Homeschooling actually costs a lot less than you might think. According to Time4Learning.com, the average annual cost per student is between $700 to $1,800. For some great tips, check out our recent podcast on No Cost, Low Cost Homeschooling.
The biggest expense may very well be the cost of you or your spouse quitting a job or cutting back on work hours to homeschool. But remember that there are so many imaginative ways to earn an income while homeschooling! We recently wrote about 4 benefits of running a side business while you homeschool and published a podcast on working and homeschooling.