With our current circrumstances surrounding schooling this year, I wanted to share my experiences with homeschooling to help you make the right decision for your kids and family. Remember, this is only my perspective and experiences. It is important that you do what's right for you and what you feel best about.
Two school years ago, I had a strong impression to bring home my then 4th and 6th grader to participate in online public school. There were some reasons why I was prompted to pray about it, but I didn't know why other than it was something that was weighing on me for years and I finally took action. I was scared, nervous, unsure of what to expect and VERY determined to keep my kids socially engaged. (Back when I was in school, I only knew of 1 homeschooled family that wasn't socially awkward and distant. Fortunately now, it's much different so it was a lot easier to not be ostersized if we didn't want to be.)
I spent hours doing research on all the different curriculums, styles and materials to pick the right fit for our family. I asked other families that were currently homeschooling or had in the past about their experiences. I reached out to homeschool teachers and asked how they interacted. I received pamphlets and emails explaining all the different schools I inquired about.
We made the decision to work with Utah Connections Academy.
We dedicated a room in our home as the school room with the kids each having their own work stations and computers. We set up their schedules so that they could complete what they wanted each day and still be on track. Gracie preferred getting a subject out of the way each day while Ryan preferred a little of every core lesson each day to help with retaining information. Their styles and needs were different as now Gracie was 'technically' in middle school with 8 different teachers and Ryan still only had 1.
There were A LOT of tears the first few weeks, both from my kids and me. It was a hard adjustment. The lessons were self-paced, but you couldn't move on until you finished them in order. Some days were long, some days were short. The lessons were a lot harder than what my kids were used to at the local school. Reading and comprehension were the main source of learning, mixing in some 'live lessons' or google meet style lessons with their teachers and classmates. Quizzes and tests were frequently required to show mastery, which sometimes didn't and lead to discouragement. It was definitely different.
We were able to go to multiple field trips where we would arrive at the location and meet new people. It was definitely not the same, but the kids enjoyed our 'family fieltrips' better. The flexibility was rewarding. We did still have to work around the other two kids schedules at the local school, but it was nice to have the flexibility to do school when and how we wanted to.
By the time Christmas came around, they were finally getting used to how it was run and feeling comfortable with the formatting. They were participating in sports and dance the same and enjoyed connecting with friends outside of school hours. A rhythm made it a lot easier. By this time, they were able to finish their schoolwork by lunch everyday leaving plenty of free time before their brothers would come home.
Now it's 2020-2021 school year and we have moved to another state. The schooling here is rated high, my kids would all be in the same school because school going from K-8 here, we have some ward members that are teachers there and lots of high recommendations from neighbors and new friends. We were excited for the challenge and change. However, a few weeks ago new regulations were released about attending school. Our school start was delayed for two weeks, thus making all students have an online learning experience for at least two weeks. We were asked to fill out a survey on returning.
Option A: all online for the whole year
Option B: in school when government allowed but wearing masks except during lunch and recess
Option C: 2 days at school, 2 days at home
I was sad that this is our reality but didn't take too much time to think about it. Talking and getting everyone else's opinion isn't going to help me make the best decision for my kids, so Jeremy and I talked about it. We quickly decided that we would return to what we were familiar with. While I'm sure the online schooling here would be wonderful, kids would be allowed to return eventually and that wearing a mask wouldn't be the hardest thing my kids will ever have to do, I decided to provide my children with familiarity and stability.
We chose Arizona Connections Academy. Same school as before with slightly different curriculum. The formatting is familiar, the accreditation has been securely in place and the stability will remain the same regardless of government schooling mandate.
This is the right decision for our family right now. We hope to be 'social' sooner than later so that we can once again enjoy sporting, dancing and other entertainment that our family enjoys. Right now, it's best that I look out for their educational needs. It will be hard again, it will be an adjustment. There will be crying. It won't be easy.
I would rather choose my hard than have it chosen for me. Being proactive in my efforts has always proven better than being reactive, although this was brought on by a reaction to government school interventions.
I hope my experiences gives a perspective if you have been considering different school formatting for your children. IF you have any other questions, I would be HAPPY to answer them.
YOU GOT THIS, whatever THIS is!