please call it pandemic schooling or school not homeschooling image of girl at computer with mom
Happy Unschooling Life

Please Call it Pandemic Schooling, School at Home, or Remote Learning, Not Homeschooling, Here’s Why:

As we start off the weirdest school year in our collective history, I want to share an important differentiation. At first, you may wonder why it’s even worth noting. I will explain why it matters to me.

Remote learning, in person school with masks and physical distancing, a hybrid model, and parents joining the ranks as official homeschoolers are all ways of learning that have already begun and will continue as the weeks roll on. In nearly all cases these ways of learning are in reaction to a global pandemic and are not by the intentional choice of the parents. It has been forced upon parents by something beyond their control and here they find themselves.

Maybe you’ve had to quit your job to facilitate remote learning. Maybe your anxiety is the highest it has ever been as your kids spend a full day in the classroom. Or, maybe you are feeling a-okay about the way things are going. Whichever applies to you there is something I would like you to know.

If you are remote or hybrid learning you are not homeschooling. I’m not saying that because I care about the label or because homeschooling gains us entry into an exclusive club. I am saying it because I think it is important for us to understand the difference.

I think seeing that our current educational models are not homeschooling matters because we don’t know where things are going. We homeschoolers want to get back to our lives as normal when this thing blows over, too.

As I shared in this post, (click here to read) homeschooling is an intentional, long-term, and life altering choice for most of us. We have literally based our whole lives and all of our choices around it. We have committed to it because for us, it is a core of who we are and how we believe our children will thrive- just like you choose school in a building facilitated by a teacher.

A Few Notable Differences Between Homeschooling and Remote Learning/Etc.

  • We homeschholers plan our year. We don’t facilitate a day or curriculum given to us by a teacher or district.
  • We set our schedule. We don’t follow one created by somebody else.
  • We aren’t having stressful conversations with our kids trying to get them to sit down at the computer to sign onto a lesson taught by somebody else.
  • We track progress to report at the end of the year. When the school year ends we submit this carefully tracked progress to whomever requires it. There is no teacher to do this for us.
  • Those who use curriculum have spent countless hours pouring over them and asking fellow homeschoolers about their experiences with each.
  • We use our own money to purchase these curriculums. Sometimes, we purchase more than one because we think it is best for our child.

Before I go further, I want to make clear that I am not writing this post to point out how much work goes into homeschooling so that we get a pat on the back. If we homeschool parents needed recocgnition to excel while living this way we would have quit homeschooling before we’d started. 🙂 Again, I am sharing this because I think it is important that people understand the difference when this global pandemic has ended.

Homeschool is Mostly a Choice for the Long-Haul

Our whole life approach to education is just that- it encompasses our whole lives. We don’t sign permission slips to go on field trips, we plan field trips. We don’t pack a bag based on what specials our child is attending today, we facilitate experiences for them.

In the morning, our role doesn’t stop when our children sign on. We are with our children most minutes of the day facilitating learning. We do this because we want to so don’t feel bad for us. 🙂

When we see the photos flood Facebook of first days back to school we get excited because it means we get museums, parks, and classes all to ourselves again. We take full advantage of that during the whole school year.

We connect what our kids have learned about history with a walk on the Freedom Trail. When our child asks a question about gravity or the planets, we find resources to answer it and might take them to the planetarium to ask their questions. We are thinking, observing, connecting, and facilitating just about every hour of every day. (Again, we love doing this so do not feel bad for us! 🙂 )

We do these things for the whole school-aged lives of our children.

Committing to homeschooling long-term is different than a semester or year of facilitating a curriculum that someone else chooses or plans, a schedule curated by another, and accountability for progress tracked by someone else- a person other than us who is accountable for that progress.

If you are remote learning, doing school at home all week/a couple of days a week then what you are doing is pandemic schooling, or school at home. It is not homeschooling.

What you are doing is hard. In no way am I suggesting you have it easy, or easier than those of us who homeschool. I can’t tell you how much empathy and compassion I have for all of you in this position right now. I worry about you. I worry with you. I think of your kids and what family life will be like this year. You are in a hard, difficult, and challenging spot- a spot that hopefully will never be repeated. A spot we all wish you were not in. It really is too much.

What we homeschool parents do is only hard for a while, then we find a groove and things (hopefully!) become fun and easy. What you are doing is only hard and it is not something you’ve chosen. You don’t control the start point or the end point, and are tethered to a schedule imposed on you by somebody else. Homeschooling is not hard. What you are doing is hard and it will probably be hard for as long as you do it. Ugh.

This post is in no way intended to be a divide or a competition about who has it worse. Quite the opposite, actually.

This post was written because I’d like for people to better understand the difference between pandemic schooling or school at home and homeschooling. I’d like people to understand this so that we better support each other by better understanding the differences.

I’m not frustrated when I see someone say that they are “starting homeschooling” as their child logs onto a screen with a teacher who has planned the whole lesson and year. This is a crazy time and we really don’t know what is going on.

I would, however, really love it if we could start calling pandemic schooling or school at home by their appropriate names instead of calling it homeschooling. When this is all over we homeschoolers want to get back to normal, too. I think we will have a more straightforward path if we haven’t convoluted the meaning and efforts of homeschooling during this pandemic.



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