+
Why some families discovered an unexpected love for homeschooling during the pandemic
Photo by Jessica Lewis on Unsplash

When schools shut down in the U.S. in the spring of 2020, parents, teachers, and students alike were thrown into uncharted territory. Now, more than a year later, families are finding themselves navigating murky waters once again as the Delta variants surges and schools and local governments grapple with mitigation measures.

Throughout all of this, millions of families have taken the plunge into homeschooling. For some, that meant helping their kids through virtual learning through the public school system, but others decided to ditch the system altogether.

In fact, a Census Bureau report found that the number of U.S. households that reported homeschooling kids doubled from March 2020 to September 2020, from 5.4% to 11.1%. The jump for Black households was even more significant, from 3.3% to 16.1%. With schools starting up this fall in the midst of rising COVID infections, those numbers could grow even higher.

While some parents are choosing to homeschool because they feel like it's the safest choice, some parents tried homeschooling during the pandemic and found that they and their kids enjoyed it far more than they expected to.


"Homeschooling was something I always thought my kids would benefit from for many reasons, but I could never wrap my head around how to actually do it and the fear that I would fail as their teacher," Jennifer G., who homeschooled last year and decided to continue this year says. "Covid gave me the push I needed to put my fears aside and dive in."

"We struggled at times last year and it took a while to find a good routine," she adds. "But overall, we learned so much about ourselves, about how we function together as a family, and how to make learning fun. We went on fun educational field trips as often as possible, cooked lots of new recipes together to learn about the world, experienced adventures through reading, & grew together as a family. We are looking forward to homeschooling again and having the flexibility to learn what we want how we want. I never imagined learning could be so colorful!"

Jenny S. says that she's wanted to homeschool for years but her husband and oldest child were never on board. However, due to COVID, she began homeschooling her third and sixth graders last year.

"My 3rd grader THRIVED," she says. "When the world shut down we noticed some behaviors that led to us finally figuring out what caused the sensory processing disorder we knew she had since she was an infant. So, we knew she'd be home again this year. She's so ahead of her peers, I didn't want boredom to add to the problems she already faced in a classroom. She has also learned that schools white-wash history, and boldly proclaims that she was lied to when asked why she likes homeschool better. She never wants to go back. She's been able to truly dive into her interests, and has learned snd retained more than she ever has before."

Her oldest has chosen to homeschool for seventh grade for consistency. "While he misses his friends, he knows this year will be better, socialization-wise," she says. "He is also ahead of most of his peers, and loves that he can move at his own pace. We love the flexibility, fewer hours, and the outdoor time it has allowed us. Without evening homework, I still get hours to get my work done (I mostly work from home), have more time for prepping dinner, and just hanging out as a family."

Many parents I spoke to were surprised to find that their children excelled learning from home.

Judi S. spent last school year at home with her 10-year-old grandson while his parents worked, helping him with virtual learning through the school. She says has mild ADHD and he was able to be more kinetic at home, which helped him focus better. But she also acknowledged that that wasn't the case for all kids.

"Some kids did well, some struggled, and some simply checked out," she said. "I wish that families still had the option of virtual learning as well as homeschooling and in-person because children have such diverse learning styles. And I dread the return of all those soul-sucking hours of homework. I think a lot of parents have discovered how arbitrary and mostly unnecessary homework actually is. We always suspected and now we know."

Homeschooling isn't a magic bullet, of course. Not all parents can make it work, and not all parents should even try to make it work. Having come from a teaching background and homeschooled my own kids for almost two decades, I can attest to the fact that it's not for everyone. And for many families, it's simply not an option.

At the same time, the pandemic has provided a prime opportunity to give it a shot for those who want to. Much has been made about the mental health impact of school closures, as well as the kids who will fall through the cracks because of needs that get met at school. Those problems are real and those concerns are legitimate—however, a lot of kids really do fare better academically, emotionally, and socially learning outside of a traditional classroom setting.

The fears and reservations that kept many families from trying homeschooling have been trumped by the fears of viral spread and reservations about kids' safety in the classroom. Though the circumstances that got us to this point are undesirable, there's never been a more opportune time to experiment with different modes and models of learning. Schooling has been turned topsy turvy anyway, so why not try something entirely new if you have the desire and the ability?

The educational landscape is shifting quickly and there are more resources for learning than ever before. While broad questions about equity and accessibility loom large across that landscape, parents shouldn't be afraid to explore the various options that are out there. The opportunity to reexamine what learning looks like for individual kids has been laid at our feet with the pandemic blowing up school as we know it. Might as well take advantage of it while we have the chance.


via Chewy

Adorable Dexter and his new chew toy. Thanks Chewy Claus.

True

Every holiday season, millions of kids send letters asking for everything from a new bike to a pony. Some even make altruistic requests such as peace on Earth or helping struggling families around the holidays.

But wouldn’t the holiday season be even more magical if our pets had their wishes granted, too? That’s why Chewy Claus is stepping up to spread holiday cheer to America’s pets.

Does your dog dream of a month’s supply of treats or chew toys? Would your cat love a new tree complete with a stylish condo? How about giving your betta fish some fresh decor that’ll really tie its tank together?

Or do your pets need something more than mere creature comforts such as life-saving surgery?

Keep ReadingShow less
Celebrity

U.S. Soccer star expertly handles an Iranian reporter’s loaded questions about race.

Tyler Adams’s response proves exactly why he’s the captain of the US soccer team.

Tyler Adams expertly handles Iranian reporter's question

Reporters are supposed to ask the right questions to get to the truth but sometimes it seems sports reporters ask questions to throw you off your game. There's no doubt that this Iranian reporter who was questioning Tyler Adams, the US soccer team captain at the press conference during the World Cup had an agenda that didn't involve getting to the truth.

It's not clear if the questions were designed to throw the young player off of his game or if the goal was embarrassment. It really is hard to tell, but Adams handled the unexpectedly harsh encounter with intelligence and poise when some may have found it justified for him to get angry.

Keep ReadingShow less
Photo by Jeremy Wong on Unsplash

Teen raises $186,000 to help Walmart worker retire.

In America, many people have to work well past the age of retirement to make ends meet. While some of these people choose to work past retirement age because it keeps them active, some older people, like Nola Carpenter, 81, work out of necessity.

Carpenter has been working at Walmart for 20 years, way beyond most people's retirement age just so that she can afford to continue to pay her mortgage. When 19-year-old Devan Bonagura saw the woman looking tired in the break room of the store, he posted a video to his TikTok of Carpenter with a text overlay that said, "Life shouldn't b this hard..." complete with a sad face emoji.

In the video, Carpenter is sitting at a small table looking down and appearing to be exhausted. The caption of the video reads ":/ I feel bad." Turns out, a lot of other people did too, and encouraged the teen to start a GoFundMe, which has since completed.

Keep ReadingShow less
popular

Artist captures how strangers react to her body in public and it's fascinating

Haley Morris-Cafiero's photos might make you rethink how you look at people.

Credit: Haley Morris-Cafiero

Artist Haley Morris-Cafiero describes herself on her website as "part performer, part artist, part provocateur, part spectator." Her recent project, titled "Wait Watchers" has elements of all her self-descriptors.

In an email to us, Morris-Cafiero explained that she set up a camera in the street and stood in front of it, doing mundane activities like looking at a map or eating gelato. While she's standing there she sets off her camera, taking hundreds of photos.

Keep ReadingShow less
Family

Mom's praise of audiobooks 'post-baby' has parents sharing how it changed their lives

'Audiobooks have helped me regain a part of myself I worried was lost. Let people read however they can.'

Canva/Twitter

Let people read however they can.

Not too long ago, it seemed like you could only be loyal to one team—team “physical books” or team “e-readers.” There was no neutral territory.

That debate might have dwindled, but it echoes on as people take a stand on physical books versus audiobooks, which have become increasingly popular—nearly half of all Americans currently pay for an audio content subscription, and the average adult in the U.S. listens to digital audio for a little over an hour and a half each day, 28% of that being spoken word. Audiobooks had a particularly big surge during the COVID-19 pandemic, as listeners found the activity more comforting and satisfying than a regular book while under quarantine.

You’d think that the general mindset would be “reading in any form has great benefits, so do whatever you want!” But alas, humans do find odd hills to die on.

Keep ReadingShow less