Social media is littered with memes about ‘homeschooling during lockdown’—and most of them are not flattering! As one of these memes depicts, many parents may have started this lockdown period with the sweetness and positivity of Mary Poppins and ended up feeling like Cruella de Vil. And in the aftermath of these experiences, homeschooling is getting a bad rap.
But is ‘lockdown schooling’ a true reflection of traditional homeschooling? I think not!
Homeschooling is a choice!
For those who have made a conscious decision to home educate their children, the experience is both rewarding and a joy. This does not mean it is without its challenges (that would be a lie), but when you have chosen to do something, you are invested in that decision and therefore, usually, more motivated to persevere—and indeed thrive—in your homeschooling journey.
On the other hand, this lockdown (which is already an added stress in and of itself!) has forced many parents into something they would never have chosen to do—and they may feel trapped and ill-equipped. They push on and do the best they can, because they are concerned about their children’s education and feel they have no other choice, but it would seem (for the majority) that the opportunity holds no joy.
Preparation is key!
Perhaps the greatest stress in lockdown schooling is that parents have been ‘thrown into the deep end’, so to speak. With little notice and often minimal support, parents have become overnight educators. In addition to adjusting themselves to being confined to their homes, they are now juggling a host of new experiences—working from home, overseeing their children’s learning, lack of social interaction… the list goes on. Who wouldn’t find this stressful?
When choosing to home-educate, however, parents have time to prepare! Homeschooling should not be entered glibly but requires research and commitment. Parents are usually trained and equipped before starting their homeschooling journey and have access to regular support and events once they’ve started. Homeschooling is a focus rather than another item on the to-do list, and families find a rhythm that works for them—not one that is set by a school or teacher.
Each child is an individual!
During lockdown, teachers have been faithfully working to deliver education to their students as best they can, and they should be applauded for their efforts. However, parents should not confuse conventional school-based learning, with its generic deadlines and expectations that have been ‘translated’ into a home setting, with true homeschooling.
A significant benefit of homeschooling is the ability to adapt to each child’s needs. Children learn in different ways and at different paces; they have different strengths and weaknesses. Parents who have chosen to home educate have the advantage of choosing a structure and curriculum that fits their family’s ethos and suits their individual children. Children, therefore, flourish in their education, mastering their work and enjoying the process.
Have a network!
Another key to a successful home school is networking!
We’ve all been forced into isolation over the last few months, and the adjustment has been easier for some than others. We were not made to work in isolation but to be part of a body (1 Corinthians 12). The danger of these past months is that people could equate this forced isolation with typical homeschooling—but that’s just not the truth!
Homeschoolers are usually active in multiple clubs and social groups. Having this support network established prior to lockdown has benefitted many home-educated students, with clubs and activities switching to online platforms. And where activities can’t go on (e.g. swimming), parents have had the time (since they’re not driving around) to bring in other activities that can be done at home.
Overall, parents have done their best to face the challenges of this lockdown period head-on and should be commended for it.
Some may have struggled through and be hoping they never have to do it again.
Others may have enjoyed the experience and may now be considering a permanent move to educating from home.
Whatever your stance, remember this… true homeschooling is a calling and a carefully considered choice that requires preparation and ongoing support so that you can provide the best possible education for your children.