Homeschooling During the Pandemic: We’ve Become the Stereotype

The Ultimate List of Free Homeschooling Resources on www.marianamcdougall.com. Photo description: colourful foam letters on a carpet. Photo by Ryan Wallace on Unsplash

So the world all of a sudden grew perfectly OK with homeschooling. After being harshly judged, interrogation-styled questioned, and being scoffed at for my choice to homeschool, parents everywhere saw themselves without any other option than to teach (or not teach) their kids at home. I saw posts everywhere about how homeschooling is going, and I had two reactions. The first was “well, hopefully after this is all over, people will be more open to and less judgmental about homeschooling.” My other reaction was… “people still have no idea what homeschooling is.”

Homeschooling During the Pandemic: We’ve become the stereotype

One of the questions I got ad nauseam any time some new person learned I homeschool my kids was: “what about socialization?” Apparently these folks think I keep my children locked at home all day long. My kids socialize during swimming lessons, acting lessons, sports sessions, art classes, nature walks, homeschooling socials, when they just go into a store with me, and the list goes on. They did, that is… until the pandemic began. We have now become the stereotype that’s often believed about homeschoolers. We don’t go anywhere and we don’t see anyone. 

It’s been tough for both the kids and the parents in our home not to be able to take part in activities, but we know it’s what’s best for everyone. And we’re trying to make up for this by having lots of video calls with friends and family, and by doing extra special things with our kiddos. For example, each night of the week someone chooses an activity to do together after dinner. The kids all look forward to their night and we all enjoy the time spent together. We also don’t do as much “school” as we were doing before the pandemic.

Homeschooling During the Pandemic: Being adaptable is the name of the game

We’re fairly eclectic homeschoolers. We do what works. We have three children with wildly different personalities and levels of ability. One of our children has ADHD, is on the spectrum, and has Developmental Coordination Disorder, while another child devours books, and the other is more interested in playing and climbing anything that can be climbed. Being adaptable was already a necessity in our household, but when the pandemic hit, it became even more so.

We stopped “doing school” long before the school year was over. We let the kids have some real vacation with no expectations other than doing their chores, saying family prayers, and doing some exercise together. When a child’s world gets turned upside down, you have to be OK with change in your own world, too. No, I’m not worried about my kids “falling behind“—whatever that means. 

Homeschooling During the Pandemic, www.marianamcdougall.com. Background photo of a boy doing homework by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

Where We’re Going From Here

Because I’m high-risk and we’ve chosen to be overly cautious, we’re not doing much this summer. We’re not travelling and we won’t be going to places where people conglomerate. So we’ve decided to start the next school year earlier, and then take a 4-month vacation when the 2020-2021 year is over. If we play our cards right, we’ll be done our school year by the first of May 2021. That means we’ll have all of May, all of June, all of July, and all of August to enjoy the warmer weather and free time. With any luck, the pandemic will be over by then, and we’ll be able to do some travelling. 

My hopes for the future of Homeschooling after the pandemic

After the schools closed during the pandemic, many parents took up what they believed to be homeschooling. This was done without much warning, and most people were unprepared. As a result, many parents still have a skewed perception of what homeschooling actually is. Also, most parents were teaching their children at home but were completely isolated from any homeschooling community due to the pandemic. I really hope this doesn’t mean that people will continue to believe that homeschooled children don’t get any “socialization.” This is simply untrue. I also hope that parents who were forced into “school at home” will be a little more open to homeschooling and the different varieties it comes in. From classical to eclectic to unschooling, no homeschooling family does things exactly the same way.

Homeschooling during the pandemic became the norm, not the exception. It’s my hope that now that more people have had a chance to try different ways to educate their children, more respect will be given for the different choices parents make. It’s my hope that when I say “I homeschool my children,” it won’t be an indication that strangers can interrogate my kids on their math skills, or that people feel the need to check my qualifications. I hope that some good things will come out oft his pandemic. Because there have been enough bad things.

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