If you're like me, you can't even turn on the news or open Facebook without seeing the terms 'school pods' or 'homeschooling' being thrown around and micro examined. The truth is as we learn more about coronavirus and its effects on children there is going to be a tremendous amount of doubt floating around as to whether we should all be sending our kids back into a traditional school environment, and we aren't even sure yet how that will look moving forward long term.
The decision to homeschool can be a difficult one, there are many opinions floating around the internet and in a short trip to your favorite library or book store you can find even more "expert" opinions and fun statistics to back up any decision you make... which inevitably leads me to thinking... if you can find science behind any choice you're willing to make, then isn't it all about you and what your family needs in the moment? Opt instead for deciding which option will ease your anxiety and stress through all of this... just my very humble non-expert opinion.
So what are our options if we skip the zoom calls and look for options that fit personalized, in-person learning experiences? Homeschool groups/ pods/ co-ops and variations of homeschooling seems to be on the rise this year and there are a couple different ways that I've seen to be the most common lets explore.
What is a School Pod?
The short answer, is that it is a group of people (mainly children and parents) that organize small group learning classes outside of a traditional school setting -that typically follow your school districts curriculum throughout the year.
Parent-led, Sharing the Responsibility
Homeschool Co-ops and pods have become one way that parents can combine forces to create a more traditional school environment in terms of social gathering and still educate their children based on common interests and learning objectives. In this scenario the parents split their time and educate their group of children on a schedule- its parents educating, following an agreed upon curriculum and taking turns. Whether you gather friends and family to follow a strict educational curriculum or find a group that is centered around more arts, crafts and outdoor activities the possibilities are endless in how you can tailor your child's eduction and who your child learns from.
A Little More Qualified
If you're thinking that sharing the responsibility to educate your child and others children in a small group is a daunting task, or you just simply don't have the time to do it you could opt to interview qualified educators and share the cost of their time tutoring the group of your children. Cost sharing is a great option for those who like the idea of hiring a professional educator that has experience, but don't want to incur the large cost of ongoing tutoring which could easily run up $60,000 a year. you simply gather your interested friends and acquaintances and split the bill.
Other Homeschool Options
Computer based learning at any age and grade level - giving you complete control over your time and schedule while filling a fully tailored learning program that can be completed online could be the best of both worlds.
One-on-one private tutoring - this is pretty self explanatory, directly hiring a qualified educator for a couple ours a week or per day to give your child a fully tailored one-one-one eduction at home.
Pros and Cons of Homeschooling
- Could limit how much diversity your child is exposed to.
- You may or may not share the same views on education or beliefs as other parents which could potentially cause conflict in the long run.
- Parents may need to adjust their lives and work schedules around the homeschooling program.
- This option isn't a one size fits all approach, and may not be the best learning experience for your child's personality.
+ Much more individualized attention.
+ Can dive deeper into subjects.
+ Can give your child the opportunity to learn at their own pace.
+ You can integrate extra curricular education subjects that are important to you and your family such as religious beliefs, life skills, hands on learning and early prep for job skills, or add on second and third languages that aren't typically introduced in a public school environment.
+ Can foster a healthy competitive attitude amongst a smaller group of supportive like minded peers.
+ Children could feel more safe and comfortable with parents involved in their education, which may foster lower rates of depression and anxiety in teen and adulthood.
+ You have the right, authority and flexibility to change your mind and integrate your children into a traditional school experience or different approach to curriculum any time you feel it is necessary.
If you're interested in exploring if homeschooling or school pods are right for you, I would suggest searching online for the necessary paperwork to send to your school district. Typically you will need to send a request to the school board and see if they have any regulations in your area regarding education and what their process would be to support you throughout the school year, for example: my district requires us to maintain the same basic curriculum that our school system teaches and proof that our children are learning that curriculum through periodic testing and proof that we have fulfilled the same amount of learning days that traditional schools in our area require.
Once you know what your district requires, reach out to other moms and mom groups to see if they have any leads or know of any good small co-ops or pods and what the values and focus is of the groups they know about.