We have been homeschooling our son from the beginning.
There are a multitude of reasons behind why we chose to do so, but that in itself would be best served as it’s own, separate post. (Comment below if that’s something you’d be interested in). When we made that decision, we did all kinds of research and planning around how we’d approach it, including how to cover subjects outside of our area of expertise, and how he’d have social time. What we didn’t plan for was how to approach homeschool during a pandemic.
None of us did.
Now, you might be wondering what the big deal is. After all, we’re already used to schooling at home, right? Well, some of the time, sure, but that wasn’t all we did. Sit-down-schooling would only take up a couple of hours in the morning, and then we’d have the remainder of the day for other activities.
The pandemic, and thus the quarantine, has drastically changed things for us. As you look through the following changes you might want to point out that some of these options are opening back up, but in our case, we’re holding out until there are better treatments for COVID-19 because of family members who are high risk. So until then, we’re still operating like we did back when the initial spike happened.
Here are three differences we had during the second half of the school year last year, and things we’re preparing for as we gear up for this year.
1. Field Trips and Travel
Field trips were a major part of our homeschool experience. We’d frequent museums as part of the learning experience, especially the Museum of Science in Boston, which we have a membership for. These trips were a tangible, fun addition to his learning.
Most years, we’d include travel as part of his learning, too. We’ve taken trips to other states, and two other countries. He’d have the chance to explore nature, cities, other museums, and hear different languages, too.
Experience can’t really be replaced. There’s something magical about learning out in the real world, like discussing tectonic plates as we stared at the crack that runs through Iceland, and geothermal activity as we sit in a hot spring and watch a geyser go off. This change has been felt hard by all of us, though we’re trying our best to still get out of the house in safe ways, like with camping or driving up to Maine.
One thing we’ve done, and will continue to do to try and fill that wanderlust, is virtual tours. It’s not the same, but it’s something to experience the outside world while we’re mainly stuck indoors. One of our favorites so far has been the Paris Catacombs tour, especially since he was reading the Tunnel of Bones by Victoria Schwab. He was able to better visualize the setting for the book after the virtual tour, and he has added it on the ever growing list of places he’d like to visit.
Socializing is to homeschool as protein is to vegans. (Yeah, we’re vegan, too). What I mean to say is that this is one of the most frequently asked questions or stated concerns when someone learns that we homeschool. People want to know how kids socialize with others when they’re not in school every day. I’m sure, at this point, we’ll hear it less, but it is a major change for us with this pandemic.
Before COVID forced us to stay safe and separated, we socialized quite a bit. Other homeschooled children would join us on field trips, or we’d attend a co-op, or we’d have indoor or outdoor playdates after the day’s work was done. In the evenings, he would simply go outside and play with the neighborhood kids, most of whom went to the local public school.
Now he has Zoom, Skype, and FB Messenger Kids video chats with his friends. It doesn’t even come close to the experience that he has in person, obviously, but it at least keeps the kids in contact while we’re all in separate situations. As an only child, this part has been hard on him, most definitely. Still, and again, we’re trying our best. The adults in his life have been taking more time to spend with him, and to play. We remind him, too, that this is all temporary.
B plays lacrosse. During the off season, he had been attending clinics for skills practice, too. Sports are not only for socializing, but they’re also great for exercise, sportsmanship, team building, and they add a bit of structure to our weeks. Yes— homeschooled kids can play sports for the local school. Each school district tends to have rules around this, but where we are and at his young age, he just has to live in the district.
There isn’t really much we can do about this one. Sure, we can play catch with him, but none of us played Lacrosse on any sort of serious level. We aren’t a team, we aren’t teaching how to win or lose gracefully, and we aren’t his age. We can’t fully replace the sport he lost, but we can still get him outside.
We take daily walks, which is nice for the mind as well as the body. Aside from that, he plays in the yard, either with a ball or just running around. It’s not the same, and it’s definitely not as structured, but it’s something.
For us, it’s important to keep in mind that these changes are temporary, and there will come a day where we can add life experience back in. Until then, we’re staying positive, and trying to make the best of it.
So what will our days look like now that we can’t really get out into the world? Well, with room for flexibility, because it’s one of the reasons we chose to homeschool, the mornings will be about the same. B will wake up and read for a while, from whichever novel he is working on. After that he’ll have breakfast, because nutrition is important for a growing mind. Then comes the schooling— math (aka teeth-pulling), history and social studies, and science.
Within a couple of hours, the core subjects will be finished, and he’ll have the rest of the day for fun. Every day there is plenty of time for outdoor play, free play, art, music, exercise, and quality time with his family. While this year has definitely been different, we’re still trying to make the best of it.