Over the past five months I have found myself crawling under a rock. I was laughing with a friend last week saying I think I have talked less about homeschooling in the last five months than ever in our homeschool lives.
When schools first shut down I tried to be as helpful as I could by sharing resources to keep kids occupied at home while both mom and dad work. My heart goes out to families who did not opt out of school by choice, but were forced to stop attending school literally overnight- and now longer term than ever expected for some.
This is one of the differences I have noticed between homeschooling and pandemic schooling. Those of us who homeschool have put a tremendous amount of thought and research into whether it is a fit for us and what we want our homeschool lives to look like. We have spent months or years talking with veteran homeschool parents, reading books and articles, and attending conferences. Homeschooling is something we chose because it’s what we want for our families and we have literally changed our entire lives for it. I cannot imagine being thrust into a different way of living suddenly and through no choice of my own.
Those of us who homeschool have made a long term commitment to it. It’s a way of life with big and important reasons behind it. Most of us are not doing it temporarily or trying to figure out how to balance working full time with virtual mandated classes. We have our own schedules and have spent years learning what works best for our families.
Homeschooling and Pandemic Schooling Are Different
As I laughed with my friend about not talking about homeschooling these last months, it occurred to me why I haven’t; what is happening right now is not homeschooling. This is not a surprise, of course. We have been noting this for months. This is crisis or pandemic schooling.
While I am mostly happy to share resources and what our days look like during normal times, I have refrained from doing so during this pandemic. In my opinion, it won’t be helpful. Learning to create a homeschool or unschool life takes more than a semester or a year. It does not involve being required to sign on for virtual classes at certain times or ensuring that our kids learn all the same things as their same aged peers.
We do not move through our days, weeks, and months trying to keep up with anyone. We do not view this as a temporary circumstance. We are not doing this because of a unique circumstance. We are homeschooling because it is a deep and philosophical truth for us.
Even with that, learning how to homeschool and unschool well has taken most of us a long time with lots of parental learning and effort. Our motivation was as high as it can get, and we still had frustration, challenges, and difficulties.
As I think of so many who are opting out of physical school for remote learning, my heart is full of compassion and support for what you must be thinking, feeling, and wondering.
And I wish I could help.
As a homeschool mom though, I am not a great resource for you. None of what I share is helpful for the short term and temporary circumstances we are in. So I have climbed under a rock and stopped sharing anything and everything about home and unschooling because I did not know how to answer when someone asked for advice.
Happy to Help Where I Can
If you are interested in home or unschooling for real, I have lots of resources to recommend. If you are temporarily crisis or pandemic schooling, though, I really cannot offer you any help. That is not how we live. It’s not what we have chosen. I have no experience at all with remote learning or temporarily having my kids home with me while I work.
Looking at things long term is totally different than short term. There’s less panic and chaos and more time to find our way. There is less worry about whether or not our kids are “where they are supposed to be” and more understanding that we have lots of time to learn the things that can be learned.
As much as I wish I could be a resource for this incredibly difficult time so many are in, I cannot. There are probably lots of people out there who are trying to sell you coaching or solutions from a homeschool/unschool perspective. To be totally honest, I would recommend saving your money.
One of the things I have learned (and it has nothing to do with homeschooling) is that calling things what they are helps. Remote learning and temporary schooling is not homeschooling. You are on an uncharted path and, thankfully, it is temporary. It seems to me you just need to get through this year as best you can while keeping your kids (and your!) self-worth, connection, and happiness as high as you can.
Eventually, you will be looking back at this time. Maybe you will be so grateful it’s over or maybe you will look back on it with warmth and affection. Either way, it’s temporary, and unless you are opting into actual homeschooling, it is different and the resources I normally share will not be helpful.
Please know though that I am thinking of you so often throughout the day. I cannot imagine navigating this and what this feels like. So many of us are sending loads of love your way as you make choices that are in the best interest of your family.