My kids never went to a traditional school until college. Both graduated and are now adults contributing to society. They have healthy relationships, and they even like to spend time with their mother! I declare that success and am officially retired from my job of homeschooling for over twenty years.
My personal schooling took place in public, private, and religious settings. I have experienced multiple sides of education. Watching from the sidelines as parents now struggle through the pandemic and educational choices, I have become reflective.
Here is what I know.
They’ll Be Fine
Regardless of what you do this year for your child’s education, they’ll be fine. Seriously. I know successful adults from every side of childhood educational experiences. I know complete failures from all sides too. Whether you pull them out for official homeschooling, keep them in a building with new protocols, or some combination, that’s not what will prevent or aid their learning. It’s you.
Having Engaged Parents Is the Most Important Ingredient for Educational Success
I used to be holier-than-thou when it came to homeschooling. Now I’m not. I’ve seen good and bad on all sides (educationally and socially). I’ve been a sucky homeschooling mom for some years and a rock star for others. In the end, my kids knew I cared about their education. They got that it was important because I was directly involved. You can be directly involved with your kid’s education no matter who is their teacher.
You Are the Only Example That Matters
You can homeschool with an expensive curriculum or pay for an elite private school, but if you are not learning and growing all the time, your kids won’t either. I’ve written about my struggles with self-evolution. Do you strive to do your best at your job, even if it’s not your favorite “subject”? Do you make time for your passion? Do you have one? How do you handle stress? Do you take care of your body? How are your relationships? Your child will put exactly zero effort into school if you yourself put zero effort into life.
The teachers and parents are going to have a harder time than the kids. I just came from a week of teaching in-person summer camp. Masks, social-distancing, the whole thing. It was weird and stressful for everyone on the first day. The rest of the week? The kids adapted and had fun. Only the staff were still stressed out. The kids figured out how to talk (really) loud and clear to each other to make the same fart jokes they always do. Success!
Earlier, I taught an all online summer camp. It was more demanding for me. The kids had a blast and told me, in detail, what they learned. They even met up a month later because they had become a tight group. Who knew that was possible with online learning? Success!
Seriously, They’ll Be Fine
There are many years of my school life that could be completely wiped away and I doubt it would make much difference in my total education. I’m sure you could find a few yourself. Have you ever read stories of people who grew up in horrible conditions and then, when given the chance, caught up and moved on? Even if this coming year (or years) is a wash, your child will catch up and move on to their life’s purpose. It may not have anything to do with you and your decisions.
I’m Going to Share Some Intimate Family Stuff
When I was a teenager, both of my parents’ second marriages fell apart. Both my homes were unstable and neither parent was a big part of those years as they struggled through their own stress. I didn’t hate them. Honestly, I didn’t really think about them much. Sometimes being a self-absorbed teenager is a plus. I took care of my own needs, helped more around the house, and got into college.
I started homeschooling my own children because I met a group of homeschooled teens that were wonderful people and I wanted my little ones to turn out like them. I couldn’t wait until my kids were in high school because so many opportunities happen at that age. Guess what happened when my kids hit high school? I became sick. Really, really sick. I barely remember their highschool homeschool years because I was trying to hold on to my sanity and physical wellbeing. Instead of doing all the things I had dreamed about, our lives turned upside down because of my illness. Instead of being the dynamic mom of awesome, my kids watched me go to doctor’s offices, they drove themselves and each other to activities, helped around the house more, and still went onto to fulfill their own dreams.
It doesn’t take a pandemic to make life messy. Do the best you can. The kids will be fine.