On this Mother’s Day, I want to give a shout out to all the mothers out there who were suddenly thrust into homeschooling. Within one week in March, your lives were turned upside down, and you had to figure out how to finish the school year with your children – on your own, without the school system’s help. I know that there are systems out there with fantastic e-learning platforms, and some assignments were sent home in cases where that wasn’t possible, but let’s be honest – all the stress fell squarely on mom’s back.
You were worried if you were doing it right. You were worried that what you were teaching wasn’t the way your daughter’s teacher taught it. You were worried that your son would be behind when the next school year rolled around. You were worried that you wouldn’t be able to juggle work, your household, and your child’s education. Your child will be fine, but that didn’t stop you from worrying about it. Please understand, though, that pandemic, “crisis” homeschooling is not the same as regular homeschooling. We miss our friends, too.
When we decided to homeschool Collier, we made the decision in late fall, for the next school year. That meant that Amye spent the rest of that current school year looking at curriculums online, ordering materials, and ultimately deciding what to teach. The first year we ordered our curriculum from Timberdoodle, a company that pulls materials from a lot of other companies and packages a complete school year of teaching resources. There were things we liked and things we didn’t like, so after that first year, we picked and chose what resources we wanted to use. With regular homeschooling, you have time to plan.
Planning isn’t teaching, though. You also get to decide how to teach your child. Amye writes out our lesson plans ahead of time. She has an overall plan for a month or so (a “scope and sequence” for you educator types), and each Sunday night gets the actual next week or two’s plans together. Will this week include a science experiment? A Youtube video to support your history lesson? Would a project better assess this concept versus a traditional test? What life skills do we need to work into the mix? Are there accommodations necessary for special needs? You get to decide all of that.
Some of you are saying to yourselves – that’s great. Deciding what to teach and how to teach it would be feasible if I had more than a week to prepare, but when would I homeschool? You guessed it – you also get to decide when to teach. Homeschool doesn’t have to take place between the hours of 8:00 and 3:00. If your schedule allows it, sure, but if you have to teach some subjects in the evenings because you work, so be it. Amye works part time from home and plans and teaches around our schedules. I teach some days and she teaches some days, and before the pandemic, her parents would also teach a few subjects.
I’m sure by now you’ve noticed a common denominator – Amye. Would our lives be easier if we had continued to put Collier on a bus every morning and we simply went to work each day? You bet. But would Collier be getting what he needs? I doubt it – because every student has a unique way of learning, and who’s better at knowing how their child learns than his mother? I often write about the dad’s role in homeschooling, but it takes the heart of a mom to set off on the journey of homeschooling.
Pandemic, crisis homeschooling is homeschooling, but without all the benefits of having the time to plan what you want to teach and how you are going to teach it. I’m a professional educator, but it takes more than that to pull it all together to plan and teach all the subjects and instill the life lessons that Collier needs. It takes a mother.
Happy Mother’s Day, Amye!