Tuesday, April 21, 2020

Educating in Extremes

The Challenges of Educating during the Covid-19 Pandemic and Lockdown.

You'd think for homeschoolers not much would change about schooling in this pandemic lockdown situation. However, things have definitely changed! We still do school at home, but it's definitely not the same. The whole ebb and flow of life has changed which affects every part of life - even homeschooling.

Most homeschoolers have a co-op group that they meet with at least once a week. This group of up to 15 students convenes to discuss the work for the week, work on special projects, and enjoy socialization. Due to the current pandemic and social distancing precautions, these groups have moved online for the most part.

The online setting has its own set of challenges such as the safety and security of your online feed. However, the biggest problem we personally have encountered is lag. Yep, lag and feedback, that annoying whistling noise that occurs when two or more devices are trying to share the same space a little too closely. The whistling noise and the millisecond lag of responses are constant reminders that even though we're face-to-face with our group, we're not really together. It interrupts the flow of conversation and the important discussions that take place in a group setting as we have to ask for things to be repeated and constantly be moving around to try to eliminate the high-pitched whining that tells us this is different.

There is also a difference in motivation to get the assignments completed. After all, we're not really going to be getting together in person. So, the deadline becomes fluid. This whole lockdown thing has us in a weird place. Are we on an extended Spring Break? This feels like summertime. I'll catch up tomorrow, but today, I'm going to take a nap or play video games online with my friends. Unless we as parents are really on top of things, these are the kinds of problems we're having trying to keep our students on track while homeschooling during a pandemic.

To be honest, I'm really not on top of things. The whole cadence of our lives has been interrupted and interfered with. Trying to keep myself together and motivated to pursue my personal career is about all I can handle. But, oh yeah, the reality is that I still have two kids who I am trying to educate so that someday they can pursue their careers; hopefully, in a more normal functioning world.

I'm a pretty laid back person, which can be a good thing or a bad thing in extreme situations. The good thing is that I'm willing and have always been willing to allow current situations to shape our current education. Just yesterday during our online Zoom homeschooling group one of the students shared with us her Covid-19 journal. She had been keeping track of numbers and trends while being on lockdown. What a great research project! Another project that we were able to participate in was an online Easter Egg Hunt for the neighborhood kids. We created hand-crafted paper eggs to hang in our windows. Parents could then drive their children around to "hunt" for the eggs from a safe social distance. Looking for opportunities like these to incorporate into your ongoing curriculum is a great way to teach our children to work with what life gives you.

Choosing to homeschool means sacrifice and a lot of hard work for the parents. During this pandemic and lockdown, many parents have been thrown into schooling at home not by choice but out of necessity. I'm encouraging myself and hopefully encouraging you too, fellow parents, that this is worth it. We are teaching our children more than reading and writing and 'rithmatic. We are teaching our children to handle what life hands us with strength, courage, and curiosity even in the midst of change. 

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