Who would have thought that 2020 would have seen a pandemic sweep the world and students in dozens of countries were forced to learn from home rather than attend classes in person at school? This definitely was a year that we were thankful that we are full-time home educators as we think about the benefits of homeschooling through COVID-19.
Finally it’s happening; everyday people are seeing that home education is a great way to learn. Of course, the great majority still believe that learning can only be accomplished in a classroom by a qualified professional, and social media feeds are full of comments beneath news stories stating such.
My question to them would be who taught their child to eat, speak, count, learn the alphabet, tie their shoes, and much more. I know that some parents do expect childminders and daycares to do this for them, but regardless of that, parents are a child’s first teacher, and that teaching doesn’t stop the moment a child becomes school age and steps across the school threshold.
Benefits of Homeschooling Through a Pandemic
Believe it or not, there are many benefits of home education. Some of these may apply more for long-term homeschoolers, but they will all apply to those who choose to either full-time homeschool as well as those who are COVID-schooling (which isn’t the same as home education, but there are definitely similarities).
No Missed Classes
When you homeschool you don’t need to worry about missed classes when a family member needs to quarantine, you can continue along with your classes as you usually do. Benefit number one of homeschooling through a pandemic!
No Closed Classrooms
Some schools and classrooms have been yo-yoing back and forth – one day everyone is at school, and then the next two weeks the whole class or grade needs to stay home because a child or teacher has tested positive. This causes disruption to classes and stress for everyone involved. The homeschool room, kitchen table, or sofa are always open for learning.
When schools go back and forth at the drop of a hat (in some cases shutting down with only 12 hours notice), there isn’t any consistency for children or parents. This causes a great deal of stress and worry for parents and guardians, but also the lack of structure can be very difficult for students. Indeed, one of the main points mentioned on social media threads is how students need structure and without going to school they don’t have any.
When you homeschool, you set up your own schedule – whether it’s set in stone or a daily routine that can be adjusted as needed, there can be as much structure involved in home education as your children (and you) need. Another positive for homeschooling through a pandemic!
No Stress Over Placement Tests
Oh my goodness, this is one definite point of contention here in Northern Ireland because students who want to attend a grammar school (the high schools geared more towards prepping children for university), they almost all then ‘have to’ write ‘unofficial’ placement tests at the age of 10/11. There are two companies that do these, so it could mean writing 4-5 exams on successive Saturdays. These have been postponed once already, and then one company said they were cancelling theirs while the other company has again rescheduled the date and will only offer 1 of the 3 exams. Students have been studying for these exams for over a year already, and now need to wait another month or more to see if they will go ahead or not.
When you homeschool into high school here, then you needn’t worry about these placement exams and the undue stress that school pupils face. Home educated children can continue learning a variety of topics that interest them rather than being taught to the test for an entire year, then not learning much in the final months of primary school because they no longer need to pass the placement test.
Lowered Chance of Falling Ill When Homeschooling Through COVID-19
Pupils who attend schools are mingling with dozens, or even hundreds of other students every day. When you home educate you can stay home or go exploring in nearby parks and not need to have close interactions with others. This means there’s much less chance of germs, bacteria, and virus transmission, which means they’re much more likely to remain healthy and thus can have a clearer head for learning.
I do know that people need to build up their immune systems and catching a common cold can help with that in most cases, but this is one time period when this is not advisable, particularly for those who can become very ill or be hospitalised from such ‘simple’ viral transmissions.
240 People Per Bubble? No Thanks
Schools say that their students have ‘bubbles,’ but in many cases, this isn’t simply their classroom. High school students move between different classrooms for different subjects and there are different students in each one. This means they can come into close contact with hundreds of people a day, but still be considered to have a ‘bubble.’ Add in mixing of classes on public transport, different schools with students attending the same daycare, and then each of those students is also in contact with their families…the chance of passing on a virus goes up exponentially.
I’m (not) sorry that we live in our own personal bubble, but it works well for us in the current state of affairs.
No ‘Falling Behind’
Parents of school-educated children are very concerned about their children falling behind because they are missing school. Add to that the digital divide (families who are unable to afford a device for children to use for online classes, or who cannot afford internet, or those who live in areas where internet is too slow or intermittent for streaming classes) and more students fall behind because they cannot access online lessons.
When you home educated full-time you needn’t worry about your children falling behind because they are working at their own personal level, which doesn’t necessarily need to be at the same place as those in school. Often homeschooled children will work ‘ahead’ of their peers in some areas and may work ‘behind’ in other areas, and they can work at their own pace and ability. Add in that with the above points, home educated students won’t miss classes and as they work at the level they’re at, there’s no reason for them to ‘fall behind.’ (As an aside, this may differ depending on the home education laws in your location).
Lowered Family Stress
Absolutely, hands-down, there is a lot more stress on everyone’s shoulders this year. In addition to the virus itself, uncertainty also causes stress (Add in Brexit, the Northern Ireland Protocol, and job uncertainty, and my constantly racing heart shows that although I may seem unphased on the outside, I am definitely feeling heightened anxiety on the inside).
However, I know that our stress levels must be lower than those of so many families who are forced to send their children off to school daily and not know when COVID-19 will cross their threshold.
Feeling Thankful To Be Homeschooling Through COVID-19
Not a day goes by that I am not thankful that we’re able to be homeschooling through COVID-19 and that we have been pretty well set-up for the past year. We home educate our children, I work from home, and Phil was working from home 1-2 days a week and for at least the next few months will continue to work from home full-time. For the most-part, not a lot has changed for us, but of course, there are still many things that have.
As anyone who home educates knows, a lot is sacrificed in order for it to happen, but it is worth it. Although this isn’t the path I expected to be on before we had children, I am thankful now more than ever that we are home educating our children.
There is little doubt that the school systems and working world will change over the next few years, but as home educators we can swiftly change lanes on our highway of learning and be at the forefront of our children’s educational careers without having to sacrifice quality or intent.
Many lessons are being learned during COVID-19, let’s make the most of them and make our children richer for them.