No matter where you stand on the topic of coronavirus and its infiltration into our way of life, and life itself, there is no question that it has dramatically changed the way America is living, working, and schooling.
With the push to shut down all non-essential services, schools were among the first to close (perhaps, as many have claimed, signifying that they aren’t as “essential” as originally perceived), with the exception of New York City, which held out as long as possible even as the world around them burned, not because schools were providing for the education of children, but because many underprivileged in New York practically live there and depend upon them for nearly everything. But even New York eventually capitulated, and the country, for better or for worse, has gotten a taste of what home education looks like.
Or do they?
While it’s true that many families are being forced to “homeschool” in the most literal sense of the word, what many people are calling “crisis schooling” or at the very least “public school at home” does not in any way resemble what most true homeschools do on a daily basis when not confronted with a pandemic. The stress of constantly being at home, coupled with deadlines, new apps to master, meetings, and countless assignments presided over by harried parents who are juggling childcare, work responsibilities, and other household tasks has left many families feeling burned out before they have even really begun, and one has to wonder how much learning is actually taking place at all. It’s no wonder that President Trump is asking states to consider reopening schools before summer, and the economy is only half of the argument.
With every family struggling to hang on and continue schooling during the pandemic, there’s another family that is giving up. “I’d rather have him watch classic Godzilla movies and play in the yard and pretend to be a Jedi rather than figure out basic math,” one mother said of her frustrated kindergartener (most long-term homeschoolers agree that formal schooling for kindergarten is unnecessary and that play is precisely what they need at that age). Many school districts are implementing a lax grading policy, exercising leniency with assignments and deadlines. California is considering beginning the new school year as early as July to help make up for lost time.
But despite what The Washington Post and Harvard have to say, true homeschooling does not have to equal deprivation, for children or their parents, and certainly not for society. Homeschooled children consistently outperform their peers in academics and social situations. Universities are by-and-large happy to have homeschoolers join their ranks, and many have alternate pathways to admission, for those who don’t have an accredited diploma or traditional transcript. Homeschoolers are used to free-time (it’s amazing what can be accomplished without all the needless busywork, and pandering to political correctness), and many can use it wisely in the pursuit of valuable hobbies or skills that could be used in their future careers.
One thing remains certain: most of those who were homeschooling before this pandemic hit are suffering just as much as their public schooled peers. Their regular haunts -museums, libraries, parks, friends’ houses, co-ops, playgrounds – are all closed. Most will acknowledge that true homeschooling is more like world-schooling, with only a small portion actually taking place at home.