Homeschooling Has Become Safe Haven for Millions of Families
Remember back in 2020 when we all thought a shutdown of our schools and businesses would last only for a short period of time—a few weeks perhaps?
Now, almost two years later, many of us are feeling as though we are going through 2020 all over again. Due to the Omicron variant, COVID-19 numbers have increased in some areas to peaks higher than any that occurred in 2020. The variant is highly contagious, burdening testing centers and medical facilities, and there is a constant threat of new variants. COVID restrictions and protocols, which were relaxed, are now reinstated in many areas of the country. It’s beginning to feel like we are trapped in a perpetual game of Frogger, where every move feels like we are stepping into potential risks. Families with school-age children are recycling through the same, and perhaps even intensified, uncertainties with respect to schools. For many families, temporarily or for the long term, homeschooling has become a safe haven for educating their children.
Schools across the country are still ill-equipped to handle the uncertainties of the pandemic. As a result, they are experiencing high student and teacher absences as well as staff shortages, with some classes being taught by substitute teachers. Some schools are even closing temporarily. This disjointed pattern causes unfinished lessons and overall learning loss. Further, if they haven’t already switched back to virtual instruction, students in many schools are being told to carry all their belongings home with them every day because they don’t know when the switch back to remote learning will occur.
Families have continued concerns about the social and political climate of the country and its impact on school safety, including bullying. Some families remain discouraged with school curriculum choices (i.e., how history is portrayed to students), and families across the country are unhappy with the contentious environments surrounding PTA meetings and school policy decisions. Simply put, schools and teachers are overwhelmed with all their responsibilities amidst these prolonged challenges.
While all of this does seem like déjà vu in a lot of ways, one could argue that this second wave of uncertainty is even worse for educators and families. Here are a few reasons:
- Consistency: During the 2020 pandemic shutdown, virtually all schools went to remote learning. There was a relatively uniform approach to keeping families and educators safe. The following school year, most schools offered hybrid or remote options for parents who had concerns about sending their children to school in person. However, during the 2021-2022 school year, most schools began in person, and some schools made the decision to move to remote learning or delay reopening after the holidays (resulting in what one reporter calls “Back-to-School Chaos”) while others remained in person.
- Options: After the initial shutdowns, particularly for the 2020-2021 school year, many schools offered in-person, hybrid, or remote learning options that continued throughout the year. This school year, however, families were often left without choices. Despite uncertain futures, many public and private schools offered only in-person learning. Those families who did not feel safe sending their children to brick-and-mortar schools were essentially forced to consider virtual schools or homeschooling.
- Social-Emotional Challenges: What is also worse is the mental health and social-emotional status of our nation’s children. They are back to school with more anxiety, fewer social skills, and more behavioral issues. They feel the extent of lost and disjointed learning in addition to the fears for the health and safety of themselves and their families. They know what is happening around the world and in this country, and they feel just as powerless as we do.
- Regression: In many ways, we didn’t learn from the first go-around. For example, why aren’t classrooms set up for remote learning as a backup every day? Wouldn’t families appreciate the option to quarantine their children when someone in the household gets COVID-19 without their children missing school when they may not even be infected? What about staff or students who are waiting for test results (which are still often delayed by days)? Wouldn’t remote learning be a great option for children with any sickness or injury—even unrelated to COVID-19—or for extended snow days or other weather-related closings? The shutdown of 2020 should have been a wakeup call to have an alternative in place.
Homeschooling as a Safe Haven
Two years later, we thought we would be in a better position, but in some ways, schooling has become even more difficult. The lack of progress has impacted schools, teachers, parents, and children, with the children perhaps suffering the most. The result is that more and more families are turning to homeschooling as a temporary—or even permanent—solution to the current uncertainties.
Time4Learning has been a key partner for these families who have worked to stop the learning loss or catch their children up to where they should be academically. It has allowed families to take back some control in order to determine when, where, and how their children learn while the schools work to figure it all out. Time4Learning has been providing consistency for those who have chosen to homeschool and a resource for families who want an afterschool supplement to make up for lost learning. The fact that our flexible, student-paced curriculum can be started and stopped anytime and requires only a computer with an internet connection makes it a no-risk choice for families as they deal with the uncertainty in schools.
Find out how Time4Learning can help your family find some stability in these uncertain times!