Year of Opportunity

If you follow me on Instagram, you know I'm currently on day 4 of a mandatory two-week quarantine due to "close exposure" to COVID at a necessary physical therapy appointment. I figured since I have the time, I'll start cranking out a few blog posts on what's going through my mind about homeschooling next year, what we're planning to do, and different thoughts/feelings I have about it all.

So, first I think it's important to address the fact that there's a great divide in homeschooling and homeschooling due to COVID. What we are doing isn't remote learning through our district. But it also isn't intentional homeschooling in the traditional sense. From all the many Facebook groups I'm on right now, I think those long-time homeschooling parents would like to wave a flag to show they were there first and haven't been tossing together their plans as some type of Plan B. And I get it. (And I sympathize with their frustrations as those of us have flocked to their groups and asked the same questions about letters of intent, IHIPs, and other pressing concerns a million times over.)

I guess where I'm at . . . is that I had considered homeschooling before, yet I have a public school teacher husband. I have had only positive experiences in the public school setting. We were happy to go that route, so -- while I did know some stuff going into my own research (like the philosophy I wanted to seek out) -- this is most certainly a temporary thing for us.

At least I think it is. I may continue with Eloise for another year or two. Not sure yet.


Ada is entering third grade this year. Eloise was slated to start pre-kindergarten. I have chosen the Oak Meadow curriculum for Ada and the Playing Preschool curriculum for Eloise. Eden will chill and do some activities with Eloise for fun. Do I feel 100 percent confident in my choices? Not really. But in the limited time I've had to plan, I think I made the right choices for my family. That's the key with this stuff, you have to do the research on your own and decide what will work for your circumstances. And then you have to be prepared if you need to pivot for any reason.

Oak Meadow is Waldorf-inspired but somewhat mainstream. So, I think it will give us room for much creativity and exploration -- all while staying the course with our eventual desire to return to public school. I have decided I'll need to supplement the math piece with Common Core-based materials available free through my state (Eureka, for example) and a few Brain Quest workbooks. Otherwise, we're reading a few novels, taking violin lessons, doing Cursive Without Tears, and piecing together other subject areas as desired.

I was waiting for my state to announce the overall plan on August 7th, but my quarantine pushed me over the edge into sending my letter of intent yesterday morning. I got a response four minutes later via email. Now I just wait to receive the paperwork I'll fill out with all our plans, like when we'll submit quarterly reports and what materials we're using. School for us will start August 31. I picked it out of the blue sky. Do I know what I'm doing? No. Do I feel confident I'll be ready by this date? Also no.

I know many of you are in a similar position to me. And many  states are starting school way sooner than we are. Schools are trying their best to come out with plans, but as I read through our own district's plan yesterday . . . I was struck with the craziness of it all. Can you imagine the administrators trying to adhere to guidelines, take in vastly opposing parent/community opinions, and then take into account their limited budgets, facilities, etc.?

It's madness.

I see a lot of parents angry at school districts and even teachers right now. This isn't their fault. There's no good solution for all families. And keep in mind that the teachers going back to work are anxious and doing way more work than normal to prep for what seems like a lot of hybrid schedules with both in-person and remote learning.


So, today I guess I just wanted to simply share that I took the plunge. We're really doing this. I am using my quarantine as a time to get my act together and plan for what our first quarter will look like. I still don't really know what I'm doing, but veteran homeschooling parents have assured me that school at home doesn't at all need to look like a public school classroom. It sounds like it requires some flexible thinking and a lot of grace.

I'm looking at this year not as one in which we're choosing to be hermits, afraid to go out into the world. Instead, I see it as a year of opportunity. At least that's how I'm trying to frame it in my mind. I get to have a whole year with my kids and to be their teacher. We get to explore together and learn new things. I get to see how that process of learning takes place for them. They may even teach me a few things. We will certainly be focusing on the academics, but with so much more time . . . there's sure to be plenty of opportunity to find new ways to connect and appreciate each other.

Obviously, this is the idealized version running through my mind. But I haven't forgotten about not having a break from the kids since March. Seeing our parents only a couple times for brief visits. Canceling our summer vacations. Doing nothing. Getting together with nobody. And still being "closely" exposed to COVID and now not able to leave my house even to jog at 5:30AM.

It's been REAL. Each night, we click through photos of people we know -- friends and neighbors -- in large groups, out to restaurants . . . without masks on . . . having all their kids pile into a backyard pool, play-dates, etc. This is why we're homeschooling. It's not out of fear. It's out of common sense.

I'm sure we have a lot of rocky times ahead, but what homeschooling will give me this year is peace of mind. It will give my kids some stability. It will certainly challenge of finances (as I won't be able to ramp up working as much as I had hoped) and perhaps my sanity, at times. But I feel good about our decision. Here's to a good 2020/2021 academic year!

Are you homeschooling this year? What made the decision for you? What curriculums are you excited about? What are your concerns? I'd love to connect with others who are having similar thoughts.

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