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5 Ways Coronaschooling is not Homeschooling

Coronaschooling is not a word but I thought it was about time someone coined a word for what has been actually happening. While the word ‘corona’ means a part of the body resembling a crown or it refers to the glow around the sun, in today’s world it has a different connotation. Those living through these times will hear the word Corona and forever think about this virus.

After the Coronavirus hit the shores of the US, the school systems began to close their doors to students telling them ‘safer at home’. This was done very quickly and unexpectedly. Most school systems had to develop a plan overnight for how they would continue to educate children without the teachers being in the classroom, without the normal aids and supplies, and in some instances without the books and materials used by the students. In addition, all of the teaching, unless done via an online platform not available to all students, would need to be done by the parents. The parents themselves were reeling from the fact that they too had been sent home and yet had to continue working outside their normal work environment. As these two worlds collided in our homes a whole new discussion of exactly what is homeschooling has developed.

Coronaschooling is not Homeschooling because:

1. The decision-maker is different

If you read any blog post talking about the pros and cons of homeschooling, it will become quite evident that there are some strong supporters of homeschooling and some staunch proponents of sending their kids to school. This alone shows the impact of the Coronavirus. Those who prefer to send their students to school would not choose to homeschool and yet they found themselves in the position of needing to find a way to help their children with their school work during this time.

Homeschooling is a parent-driven decision which is usually given much time and consideration as well as a plethora of research and planning. The decision is not made lightly and parents must weigh the pros and cons and how it will impact their lives.

Coronaschooling was not a parent-driven decision. It was a decision made by state governments and instituted regardless of the stance of the parents. That has put some parents on the defensive: not wanting to school their children but also having no other option.

2. The curriculum-chooser is different

When homeschooling, some parents create their own curriculum, others will pick and choose the best of different things available, but most use a pre-prepared curriculum available for purchase. Regardless of how creative a parent wants to be, the point is the same: the parent makes the choice of what curriculum is used. They also have the choice to revamp mid-year if the curriculum isn’t working well for their student.

For those Coronaschooling, the parent has no say in the curriculum choice. They must complete the material assigned using the material provided. If the student and the parent don’t understand the material or how to do the assignments, this could cause them to feel trapped in a system where they feel like they have no control and little possibility of success.

3. The student must keep pace with the class

Homeschooling, like tutoring, allows teachers to work with students on an individual basis. They can determine how the child learns best and cater their approach to the child. They can speed through the parts that the student already knows or learns quickly and slow down at parts that are challenging or cumbersome.

Coronaschooling isn’t that way. The teachers were gauging their instructions as they normally would: on the class as a whole and not on your individual student’s strengths and weaknesses. So while the parent was the at home helper, really the teacher was setting the pace of the assignments.

4. Homeschoolers are not isolated

When my parents began homeschooling my younger brother and sister in the mid 80’s homeschooling laws were still being written. There was nobody within a several hour radius of us who was homeschooling at that time. Homeschooling was an anomaly. Times have changed in the past few decades and there is significant data to back-up the idea that homeschoolers have friends and do things with other people. The idea that homeschoolers of today lack socialization is simply not true.

Homeschoolers eagerly search each other out partially as a plan for survival. It is hard doing something you have never done before all on your own. We are eager for information, accountability, and just to bounce ideas off each other. In addition, when you as a parent have been talking to no one but your children for days or weeks on end, you too are eager for socialization with other parents. Social opportunities aren’t just for the kids!

During the Coronavirus, neither Coronaschooling students nor homeschooling students are getting the socialization that is typical of what homeschooling has been for the last decade or two. We are all pretty isolated right now and that is not healthy for anyone nor is it what homeschooling looks like under normal circumstances.

5. The support available is plentiful

From the early ’80s to about the year 2000 support for homeschoolers was not always easy to find. Looking for curriculum was challenging. There were limited options. In the past 20 years, the options for curriculum have grown exponentially. In fact, since there are now too many options to wade through, people rely on word of mouth suggestions from friends. Curriculum fairs and Homeschool conventions are within a few hour’s drive of most people and easily affordable. There seems to be no end to the support that is available including curriculum, phone support, local group support, extracurricular opportunities and the never-ending information online.

Compare this to Coronaschooling. The school systems and teachers were caught off guard and not prepared for this shift. Many school systems made the transition to online learning in as little as a few days to a week. The learning curve for the teacher was just as steep as for the student. The teachers are trying to figure out the best way to approach the new situation while also guide parents and students through new technology and new material. No one really knows the best way to handle this new situation. In addition, many school systems required little at home work due to the fact that many of their students didn’t have online access.

No doubt the teachers are doing the best they can under the circumstances but trying to learn a new system, make a plan, convey information to parents who are for the first time taking a more active role in their student’s academic life, and still support both students and parents from afar is challenging at best and impossible on some counts. Even when teachers are doing everything they can, the circumstances left many families lacking direction and feeling unsupported. There were no easy answers for such a quick shift in the way we educate students.

So what is homeschooling? The takeaway should be that Coronaschooling is not homeschooling. In fact, homeschooling right now is not really normal homeschooling either. Regardless of how much good you have found through your experience with your kids over the past few months, know that homeschooling can be infinitely better than what you have experienced so far.

Don’t just survive...THRIVE!

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