Hello! Let me first apologize for my abhorrent delay in posting. It’s been 4 months (!) since my last post and I don’t really have a decent explanation for the ridiculous gap. Is pandemic madness a good enough excuse…?
Now that my apology is done, let’s get down to brass tacks: School 2020.
Normally, the beginning of September is an exciting (albeit anxious) time for parents, children and young adults.
Being that it’s 2020, even the term “back to school” is tenuous. Are your children doing virtual schooling? Attending physically? A combination? No matter the mode, how are you and they handling it?
I’ve had friends and family members tell me that they’re freaking out, worried and anxious about their children attending school due to Covid. I totally get that – anyone who reads, watches or listens to the news knows that there’s a SERIOUS risk of getting sick once school starts.
However, even though I’m an anxious person by nature, I’m doing a pretty good job of staying calm. First of all, my teens want to go to school so that’s good. I feel like it’s important for their mental health to be physically at school interacting with their peers and teachers.
And, while I’m a huge fan of all things digital, virtual school just doesn’t cut it for me. Even my high-achieving daughter tells me that virtual school did not work for her and it certainly didn’t work well for my super intelligent son who also happens to have ADHD.
The chance of…
getting hungry and grabbing a snack
losing interest in the content
having technical issues
becoming distracted by ambient noise
etc. etc. etc. is so great.
Time will tell if our children’s learning & mental health will suffer due to the effects of the pandemic. Optimists will say that children areresilient and most can adapt. Realists will tell us things will never go back to normal, our children and young adults will lose much of their academic smarts and that we’re going to have to re-think our education system.
There ARE some cool creative options that people are investigating including: learning pods, outdoor or “forest” schools and OG homeschooling. We have no choice but to adapt and move forward.
I’d love to hear what you and your family are planning to do for school 2020. Feel free to comment here or write to me at the email address in the “About” section.
Good morning! I apologize for the delay in posting – I was on a much-needed vacation last week. I also apologize for the font changes in this current post: I tried to do some adjustments behind the scenes but it looks like two different font styles still appear.
A few weeks ago, a fellow blogging associate, Heidi, kindly provided info on how and why parents might decide to homeschool . Until recently, this was an area of parenting/teaching/education that I had known about for some time but didn’t fully understand. Homeschooling is chosen by families for a variety of reasons. For this blog, we discuss it from a mental health/learning disabilities perspective.
Another fellow blogger, a successful business owner, parent and home-schooling expert, also agreed to answer some burning questions that may help you decide if homeschooling is right for you and your kids.
Dana is the owner of TrainUp a Child Publishing. The information on Dana’s site/blog is extremely helpful and may assist you in understanding the ins and outs of homeschooling as well as the various methods and philosophies involved.
Here are a few of her answers. I will add a second part to this post soon – she provided such important and detailed information that I can’t fit everything into one post!
Question 1: From your perspective, what’s the criteria for homeschooling? For instance, do you feel it’s best in all cases for both parent and/or child?
There are many circumstances and possible criteria for homeschooling. I don’t feel like homeschooling is best in all cases. Regardless of the criteria, if parents aren’t committed, willing to invest time and money in curriculum/supplies/and possibly tutors, and willing to make homeschooling a priority in their lives, it’s probably not a good choice.
From the parent perspective, they might feel homeschooling would be better for their child because:
They disagree philosophically/religiously with some of the content of what is taught. For example, the school policy changes you may have heard about in California that have literature that talks about many genders. Many parents that this area should remain within the realm of what parents would teach in the home, rather than in their first grader’s classroom.
Their children may have been diagnosed with epilepsy, or other medical condition that require closer medication management/health care than may be possible in the public/private school system
Their child(ren) may have been diagnosed with ADHD or are on the Autism spectrum and have or have had difficulty coping with a typical public or private classroom. Parents who homeschool these children can provide them an environment that better suits their needs:
a less distracting room for homeschooling, without every inch of wall space covered with colorful things, like many elementary classrooms, particularly
the opportunity to give children their own quiet space to learn and focus, complete with a bouncy ball or other soothing/tactile objects
hands-on and other customized lessons that appeal to their student
customized therapies and methods that parents have found to work for their child at home because their school systems aren’t able (or perhaps willing) to implement them in a classroom situation
more frequent opportunities for breaks, more easily incorporate movement into studies
can take the time and provide mentorship in teaching their child relational behaviour — one to one. I’m sure this would be impossible for most teachers because of the teacher to student ratios, even in special ed classes
They feel as though their child would be safer at home from bullying, school violence, etc.
Question 2) What would you say to a parent who is considering homeschooling due to their child’s anxiety, depression, bullying, etc.?
I would tell them what it’s like to homeschool and give them places to research it further in their state/country. I’d suggest they visit and get plugged into a local homeschool support group, ask lots of questions and maybe shadow a homeschooling family or go on a field trip or park day with a homeschooling group. If parents are strongly considering homeschooling, it would be good to bring their child into the discussion.
I’d let the parents know to look for a support group that met together regularly with activities for parents and for kids, went on field trips, provided a co-op or group classes, etc. (With ours, we had yearly school pictures, a yearbook, a prom, lots of field trips and small classes in many academic and enrichment areas, from writing classes to Taekwondo.)
Question 3) What are some characteristics of successful homeschooling parents/teachers? What are two or three things that must be in place?
Homeschooling parents must be committed to homeschooling at the start. That doesn’t mean they have to do it forever, but they need to be committed to at least a year at a time.
They have to be willing to spend money as necessary for their child’s curriculum and activities, and they have to be willing to make homeschooling a daily priority for at least one parent. That doesn’t mean the homeschooling parent can’t work parttime, but homeschooling has to happen daily in spite of the job. Sometimes homeschooling happens on the weekend or at night — it doesn’t have to look the same in all families and nor does it have to look like public school.
It works best if parents have taken the time to train their children to [listen] when they were small. Mutual respect between parents and children makes it a ton easier. And it’s easier to start with that in place, although it’s never too late to develop.
As I said, at least one parent has to assume the responsibility for homeschooling and make it a priority in their life. Also, most homeschooling parents have to be willing to take the time to learn along with the child. They have to commit to at least weekly planning time, they have to be able to grade papers or get help from someone who can do this if they need help. Sometimes moms change kids — one who did well in math might teach math to her child and mine, and maybe I teach writing to my child and hers, for example.
I was doing some further research on supports for homeschoolers: If you are in Ontario, Canada, the Ontario Federation of Teaching Parents looks to be an amazing resource. I am very impressed with their site and how user-friendly it is to access.
Let me know if you find this information useful and if you have other advice or resources to share. I’d love to hear from you.
For some parents and guardians, having their child attend a regular public school isn’t an option. This is due to many factors: religious or cultural concerns; clashes with administration; bullying issues; physical abilities that are not or cannot be addressed by the school and mental health/neurological issues like anxiety, depression, ADHD, autism or concussion.
In these instances, some parents decide to go the homeschooling route. Even as a child I had heard about homeschooling but no one I knew/know was homeschooled and, up until quite recently, I knew very little about how one would go about setting up a home school and teaching their children. That has changed!
Through a blogging community I belong to, I have “virtually” met many wonderful people who are doing amazing work through their blogs/sites. One of these wonderful people is Heidi who runs The Unexpected Homeschooler.
Heidi has kindly agreed to answer some questions about homeschooling and about why parents or guardians of children with mental health challenges might do better learning from home. She lives in the U.S. and worked for many years as a special education teacher in a public school system.
1) From your perspective, what’s the criteria for homeschooling? For instance, do you feel it’s best in all cases for both parent and/or child?
I think homeschooling is a personal choice for every family, and sometimes even per child. It has a lot to do with their reasons. For some families, it’s a religious reason and they most likely would want all their children homeschooled. For others, it may be academics or special needs and it would depend on each child’s needs.
2) What would you say to a parent who is considering homeschooling due to their child’s anxiety, depression, bullying, etc.?
As a parent of a child with anxiety, I personally feel being at home is the best place for her. Of course it can depend on the type of anxiety a child has, but the public school system can be overwhelming for a lot of these kids and even detrimental in some cases. Being able to provide a positive, loving environment allows these children to have exposures to certain situations when they are ready for it. They can be themselves without being ridiculed, teased, or bullied. I have found that most of them blossom when homeschooled and have much more success.
3) What are some characteristics of successful homeschooling parents/teachers? What are two or three things that must be in place?
I think every parent is a homeschooler whether they realize it or not. They have been teaching their children since the day they were born. No one else is going to love or understand a child better than his parent. The best homeschool parents/teachers are the ones that understand every child learns differently and at his own pace. It is not a race and we can’t compare our children to everyone else’s.
Figuring out their child’s learning style and presenting information in that format can make a huge difference. That’s not something that can be done in a classroom of 25 students. The second factor is a combination of organization and teaching their children to become independent learners. If the parent can set up systems to teach their students to work on their own, the benefits are huge and will carry over into adulthood.
4) Obviously, each state/country/province’s rules differ, but what do parents need to know before they pull a child out of public or private school?
Any time a child is pulled out of the school system, the parent needs to realize the child may need some time to “de-school” especially if the child is coming from a negative situation. De-schooling is the adjustment period a child goes through when he leaves the school system. He may need time to explore his interests, feel safe (if he’s come from a situation where he was bullied), time to figure out how he learns best, and perhaps time to build some self-esteem.
Learning at home is different from school and parents need to realize it’s okay to take a few weeks or even a few months to let their child get used to it. It doesn’t mean academics aren’t being taught; they are just being presented in a different way. It could be in the form of field trips, projects, reading books, and many other ways.
5) Do you know of instances where homeschooling has made a positive difference in a child’s life that was previously difficult due to mental health matters?
I don’t. However, while my own daughter has always been homeschooled, I do think putting her in the school system would have had a negative effect. I think her anxiety would have gotten in the way of her learning.
I also know of a child who is autistic and was not getting the kind of education he was capable of in the school system. In fact, he wasn’t even being supervised properly. This child is now doing amazingly well and has far exceeded the educational expectations the school system had for him.
6) Do you know of instances where it hasn’t worked?
I don’t know of any particular situation where it hasn’t worked but I know it can be more difficult to pull a child out in the high school years because of the loss of friends. Homeschoolers are socialized, despite what many people think, but older teens don’t want always want to make new friends at that age.
7) What resources can you recommend?
I recommend finding a local homeschool group so families can have support and find friends to do things with. It’s not necessary, but often when a family is new to homeschooling, it’s nice to have other parents who have been through it to ask questions. Also, there are a lot of Facebook groups homeschoolers are active on and these are a great resource as well.
8) Do you feel that liaising with other parents/teachers/families in similar situations makes a big difference?
It’s always nice to have a circle of homeschoolers to bounce ideas off of and to do outside activities with. It’s very helpful, especially when you are just starting to homeschool.
Thank you, Heidi, for offering your advice and opinion. Of course, you can visit The Unexpected Homeschooler for more resources, tips, book reviews and ideas.
I also want to add that parents (regardless of your country of origin) should look into the rules and regulations for homeschooling in your state or province and what type of exams, essays and tests that children must take in order to qualify legally for homeschooling.