On Deciding to Homeschool in a Pandemic

Updated: Jul 25, 2020

I live outside of Nashville, Tennessee, and my county is pushing to go back to school in person. There’s an option for remote learning, which requires 4 hours of virtual instruction. For kindergarteners.

And then, we've been social distancing since March. Numbers are only climbing in our state, and school is creeping on up. I was looking forward to the start of kindergarten. Maybe my kid would make friends, have playdates! Maybe I would get a few things done (like finishing my novel finally, or getting my second poetry collection wrapped up), though of course the little one would still be home.

For us, remote learning defeated the purpose. My son can read, write, and do some math. For us, we were most excited about the social aspect of school. Making friends, being part of a classroom, and learning from someone that isn’t me. I didn’t want to wear the “Mom” hat, the “teacher” hat, and the “friend” hat. But this year, we decided homeschool made the most sense for our family.

A few weeks ago, I tweeted about homeschooling due to Covid, and an NBC journalist reached out to interview me about my plans. After talking to her, I felt a big sense of responsibility. I felt like I needed to get to work.

When I talked to the reporter, I hadn’t even told my dad my plans yet. I loved school so much, and he pushed me to excel. He had me repeat homework assignments because “Penmanship!” And I have been looking forward to pushing my son as well. My sisters are both public school teachers, and I respect their work immensely. I think teachers are underpaid, under supported, and under appreciated.

There is also guilt tied in with my decision to homeschool. I am lucky, privileged to be able to homeschool. My parents got me through college without debt. I am thinking of those families who don’t have options. I’m thinking of teachers who have their own families, teachers who may be concerned with in-person learning in the midst of a pandemic. I am concerned about so many things.

What I am NOT concerned with, though, is my ability to teach my child. He already enjoys learning. He absorbs information better than I do. He self-teaches, with the help of his iPad. (We aren’t into screen time limits over here. No judgements if you have them, or if you don’t! We certainly cut it off if it ever feels like too much, but mostly we let our kid lead. And he spends plenty of time reading, writing, LEGOing, making art, playing outside, and imagining.)

Once I sat with the decision to homeschool, it felt right for this year. I even grew excited about it. I have some good friends who homeschool, and they calmed my fears about this year's challenges. In the midst of so many pivotal things happening in our culture, I look forward to our conversations, to keep answering his questions with honesty, and helping him navigate these often complicated issues. I look forward to him telling his future class the truth instead of white-washed history. (I daydream about him sharing that Columbus didn’t “discover” America, for instance.)

When the pandemic ends (it WILL end, right?!) and school resumes, I look forward to back-to-school shopping. To crossing off items on the classroom wishlist. To sending my kid into the lion’s den, and to hearing all about his days of making friends and learning to be in a community. Because that’s what school has the potential to be. A community. And while Covid-19 has us isolated, we are missing our community.

Our Plan to Homeschool in Kindergarten

I'm not a natural planner. Some of my best friends are type-A super planners. Not me!

I'm developing my own (very loose) curriculum that I'll share here when I'm done. Basically, my kid loves Wild Kratts, & every Friday PBS Kids drops new episodes on their app. I'll use those weekly episodes to craft lessons on animals and habitats. We'll use words from the show as spelling words. We'll write our own stories about the weekly animal adventures, and we'll theme our arts and crafts around them as well.

I ordered a year's subscription to National Geographic Kids (because he's nuts for animal facts) as well as a year's subscription to Kiwi Crate (for some STEM fun). That should help me by lessening what I have to "plan" for some days. And it will be exciting for him to get exciting stuff in the mailbox.

We're going to use games for learning, too. I ordered a cool game called Gravity Maze to practice logic, and it's already a hit. We'll add some others into the mix soon.

We'll also use StoryBots on Netflix for lessons/themes. My kid loves telling us "how eyes see" and "how planets are formed" all things he's learned from StoryBots. The songs are catchy, too.

We're also going to write letters every week. Let me know if you want to receive a letter!

I got a separate bullet journal to track what we do every day. Per our state's guidelines, we have to 4 hours of "school" (which can include outside play, educational fun, etc) for 180 days. That's a full school year.

Soon I'll write up a post about the books I bought/already had and am planning to use.

If you're a homeschool veteran, or if you're (like me) just planning on homeschooling due to Covid, I'd love to hear more about your process/plans.

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