Homeschooling have you overwhelmed? You don’t have to go it alone.
With many kids already back in school for full-time distance learning in the U.S., parents are more strained than ever with the burden. In the United Kingdom, a troubling statistic is going around: over half of U.K. mothers are unable to get sufficient childcare to work.
On top of managing childcare and work in the midst of a pandemic, much of the burden of educating children has been left to this same demographic of working mothers, which begs the question: Just how the heck are they supposed to do all of it?
As if gender inequality and wage gaps weren’t enough, now working mothers are fighting like hell to keep their families safe and their careers alive as they try to educate children during a work day.
What’s the Difference Between Distance Learning and Homeschooling?
In the absence of in-person instruction in many states across the U.S., many parents are being given the option, at least for the first part of the school year, to keep their children enrolled in online classes.
Genevieve Arnold, a homeschooling expert and founder of Curriculum Square, says there’s a huge difference between distance learning versus a homeschooling curriculum.
In homeschooling, parents choose the curriculum their children follow. They set their own schedule, make their own hours, and are able to conform their schooling around their lifestyle.
With distance learning, you’re stuck with the school’s schedule and curriculum, which may or may not be the best fit for most families.
“Homeschooling, in many cases, can be done in just a few hours a day, whereas with distance education, you may have kids sitting in front of a computer screen for six hours,” says Arnold. “They’re required to be present for a certain period of time. In homeschooling, school is basically out when the work is done.”
As many parents become overwhelmed with ensuring their children are challenged enough, and at the same time not overwhelmed, homeschooling is looking like a better option all the time.
It Takes a Village: Homeschooling Pods
The problem with homeschooling for many parents is not necessarily that they don’t believe in it (because these days, either way, the kids are learning at home) — it’s that they don’t feel competent enough to do it.
“Particularly with middle and high school aged students, many parents feel the subject matter is too intimidating for them to tackle, like they’re not qualified to teach them,” says Arnold.
But what many parents don’t realize is that in homeschooling, community is everything.
Homeschooling isn’t just an educational model, it’s a community-based approach that is heavily built on pre-existing, ready-to-use curriculums, and a network of local and regional parents that work together to get it done. Homeschooling pods allow parents to share resources and make the model more practical.
Depending on each state’s social distancing guidelines, most pods are still legal, with certain per-pod student limits. Essentially, a homeschooling pod distributes the education of its students across multiple family households, taking some of the burden off of parents, and giving kids social opportunities, a crucial part of their development and mental health.
Working Together As a Pod
Arnold says that at the beginning of the school year in her own pod, the parents ask all the students to write what they want to learn about on a big piece of butcher paper. Afterward, the parents come together and form their lesson plans around what the children are interested in.
This not only rounds out their education with things beyond the usual academic menu, but makes their education more enjoyable and relates to things that they’re actively interested in — a strategy that Arnold says has been incredibly effective in keeping the students engaged and enthusiastic about their work.
How to Start Your Own Homeschooling Pod (Or Join One)
Across the U.S., pods and alternative education models have formed quickly. Parents and businesses are rallying to form solutions to the problem of balancing work with education and childcare.
In short, mama, you have options.
Parent-taught homeschooling co-ops and pods can be tough to find. The Homeschool Mom is a great resource to help you find a co-op or pod in your state. You can use their interactive map to narrow things down.
Most states have their own homeschooling websites to point parents to resources. Regulations will vary by state based on how many students you can have in each pod, and what qualifies a parent to teach one, so be sure you’re getting information that’s specific to your region.
If nothing exists in your area yet, then it may be time to start one. Arnold says there are some pretty big differences in terms of regulations between pods and co-ops, so be sure to look at what’s required in your state before you get too invested in one versus the other.
It Takes a Village
The fact is, across the country and around the world, parents — moms especially — are scrambling. They’re still piecing these solutions together. They haven’t quite figured everything out.
But in times like these, the greatest hope for survival rests within our communities. Know this: you are not alone. Parents like you are looking for solutions too, and if they’re not already out there, you could be what pulls your community together to get everybody through this.
Have you started homeschooling yet? What’s your favorite lesson plan? Tell us more about how you’re making it all work on Facebook or Instagram, and tag us in the post — @AvocadoMattress