The pandemic has wreaked havoc inside homes across the globe. We're very lucky to have our health and safety amidst all this. We've also been blessed with a few perks: Our family connection is much stronger and, strangely, my kids become more intrinsically motivated to learn. This factor alone has pushed me to seriously consider homeschooling next fall regardless of what happens with COVID-19 and whatever our school district chooses to do.
I saw it in my kids (second grade and kindergarten) right away - they relaxed once school was canceled for the rest of the year. Sure, they love school and missed their friends, but the stress from school evaporated once they no longer had to go. The long day, lack of free play, and overall rigid structure of the school day just seems too much for my kids. They'd always come home beyond grumpy and throw tantrums like they were toddlers all over again. And honestly, I didn't blame them.
But once the pandemic hit, and they were stuck at home, as awful as it is, they smiled and laughed more. As their new "teacher," I began to run with it. I reached out to their teachers and asked if I could do some things my way. Thankfully, their teachers obliged. Although I teach at the college level, I used to work with my kids a lot when they were younger to help them master their letters and numbers. So, over the past couple months of dappling with homeschooling, we've had fun with learning by doing more art, learning by moving our bodies, being in nature, and most importantly, giving my kids freedom and time to learn.
I immediately noticed that my second-grade son, who had turned into a reluctant reader (giant disappointment as an English teacher), began grabbing books and taking them outside to read on a whim. He'd devour chapter books in one day. He also dove into baking - something he never had time for before. My kindergarten-aged daughter has turned into a little Picasso. She takes items we'd typically recycle, like toilet paper rolls, and make art out of them. So, I get to have conversations with her about recycling and our environment. We're also having a lot of fun with games that get her busy body moving to learn her sight words and math.
Overall, things feel much more relaxed in our home. Learning feels how it should, with students taking the lead. This freedom gives my kids time to be curious about things that matter to them. My son, for example, wants to know about the brain: how it gets our bodies to do things. So we did a lesson on learning the parts of the brain and how it makes our body act. He's the one who wanted to learn about that, not me. This motivation makes me trust that homeschooling next year will be the way to go.
Things are not perfect over here. I lose my temper and miss being able to work in peace daily. My kids miss socializing with their peers and I'm sure they'd tell you I nag them too much. But examining the big picture, I'm realizing that they desperately need a slower life. Plus, I only have this one childhood with them. Our bond is stronger because I simply have more time with them. We have conversations about anything from boogers to coronavirus. I'm able to pause and listen, cuddle longer, and read with them until I almost fall asleep.
I'm doing my best to relish this time with my children because I know that there will be a time they'll desperately want to go back to school. But for now, I'm going to continue to research all I can about homeschooling and giving my kids the best education I can, without going anywhere at all.