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Saturday, March 28, 2020

Home School vs School at Home: Week One

Well, we just completed our first week of doing school at home. I'll go ahead now and use that as my excuse for not blogging this past week, lol. Let me tell you, this is a big change not only for the adults but for the kids as well. They just aren't used to doing ALL of their schoolwork at home, and it sucks.

Now, the title of this post implies something that many people may not realize. People think that because school is closed and people are being required to have students do their classwork at home, this is the same thing as homeschooling. Let me just say once and for all, this is NOT true. Homeschooling and doing schoolwork at home are two terribly different animals. Let's take a quick look at what I'm talking about.

In traditional homeschooling, the coursework for the year is laid out in advance. The student's schedule is very flexible and they can work at their own pace, as long as they don't fall behind. Many states require regular testing to ensure that the student is keeping up with where they need to be academically with their peers. This leaves daytime planning and even weekly planning with a lot of flex time for the parent doing the teaching to incorporate life skills lessons as well as out-of-the-box educational opportunities. But what about the "new" school at home concept?

With the Coronavirus and Covid-19 running rampant, many schools have temporarily closed. However, this doesn't exempt students from completing their work, especially in the age of the internet. Information is readily available online and classwork can be done through any number of task-oriented organizational tools, such as Google Classroom (what our district uses). Chromebooks are even provided on a loan basis to the students. Students can have group video calls with their teacher and classmates using modern apps such as Zoom. 21st century learning is truly here.

So what's the problem? The problem lies in the fact that teachers are still looking at this as a classroom style experience. While trying to remain somewhat flexible, they are scheduling calls for early morning hours, expecting work on a regularly scheduled basis, and following up every day with emails - just as if the students are still in the classroom every day. This doesn't work for many homes, where schoolwork may be done later in the day, or even in the evening, depending upon the parents' work schedule. Of course, with the pandemic, many parents are also staying home and not working in "non-essential" jobs.

Overall, the technology that allows me to write this blog is also a great boon to the educational system. It provides access to tools that enable students to work from home. However, working from home is not the same as doing work at school. Homeschooling should be more flexible with longer-range goals versus daily or short range goals that require more micro-management and follow ups.

I'm sure we'll all come on the other side of this stronger for having had this experience. But right now, for students and parents alike, it's a learning experience that is stressful.

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