Homeschooler or School-at-Homer?

With so many schools closed down right now, education is a hot topic. Some schools have the resources to supply students with tablets and access to lessons online, others had to scramble a bit. Some are hoping that this will be very temporary and are thinking they'll be able to finish out the school year in person. Other schools have already determined that students won't be back until Fall.

There has been some discussion within the homeschool community as to how to best help these new "homeschoolers. I appreciate the heart behind this, but to be honest I've not seen much help requested from the new school-at-home community. This may come as a surprise to some, but it's not that shocking if you think about it, and here's why:

The magic of homeschooling happens when parents allow themselves the freedom to recognize their children as the unique individuals they are and and educate them according to that individualization. What most people are doing right now isn't homeschooling, but rather school-at-home. And these are two very different things.

When we look to the brick-and-mortar school system as our template and education guide, we can expect that many of us are going to struggle. While there may be some more one-on-one time and while there may be more flexibility on how long a student is permitted to spend on a difficult subject, the schedule and demands remain largely the same and can still lead to frustration as we try to hammer square pegs into round holes.

Most parents considering homeschooling need help determining if they should homeschool or not. This decision has been made for these school-at-home parents. Next, parents often need help navigating the vast array of curriculum, learning styles, and education models. Again, current SAH families aren't struggling with these questions because it's been handled for them. In some instances, even the daily schedules have been planned out!

If these students excel at independent learning then all will go smoothly and those parents may decide that this new approach is a good one for them. For others, though, their children will struggle with the one-size-fits-all curriculum and the parents are the ones who will have to invest much time and energy ensuring that their children push through. These are the parents and students who will conclude that "homeschooling" is terrible and is to be avoided at all costs.

How can I predict all of this with so much certainty? Because I've seen it many, many times before. Some parents decide to dip their toes into homeschooling for a season with the intent that their kiddos will be back in school. Therefor, they try to keep pace and rhythm with the local school system and then get frustrated that's it so much work and hassle. Other parents may genuinely want to make a go at home education, but find it impossible to separate "education" from "school" and never allow themselves the freedom of personalized learning.

Why the fear? Many are simply terrified of the "b" word: behind.  We've all heard those stories from smirk-y teachers who tsk-tsk over "that one homeschool student who was behind." The truth is a homeschooler may well be behind in general or behind in a particular subject because their parents afforded them the freedom to learn at their own pace. Let's be honest, though, research shows that homeschooled students are WAY more likely to be ahead of their brick-and-mortar peers. So, there's always that. But I digress.

School at home and homeschooling are two different things. Those who are schooling at home with the intent of sending their kiddos back to school are not really in need of advice or assistance from us because there's nothing much needed that we can provide. I don't need to concern myself with Common Core standards, and teaching to the test, and following a precise schedule so I would be very little help to anyone struggling in those areas! If they do decide to take the plunge, then I - and my fellow homeschoolers - will be more than happy to help in any way we can.


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