MARY REICHARD, HOST: Today is Wednesday, October 21st. Good morning! This is The World and Everything in It from WORLD Radio, supported by listeners. I’m Mary Reichard.
MYRNA BROWN, HOST: And I’m Myrna Brown. Janie B. Cheaney now with some tips for parents adjusting to their new homeschooling journey.
JANIE B. CHEANEY, COMMENTATOR: If you are a parent of school-age children, I don’t have to tell you that COVID-19 has created some educational dilemmas. In the confusion of now-they’re-open-now-they’re-not school districts, frustrated parents are seeking out other options, even teaching their own kids at home.
A Florida-based homeschool curriculum publisher told me that sales are up 20 percent over previous highs. She writes—quote—“Many [parents] say that they have found how much they enjoy having their children home. Then there are those who have been shocked at how weak their students’ skills are.” End quote.
The education establishment has been unaccountable for sliding standards far too long. Turns out, educating a population is complicated, even in the best of times.
But educating one child is simple. If you’re considering homeschooling, allow me to share three life lessons for anxious beginners.
I was home-educated in eighth grade, due to a serious bout with myocarditis that kept me confined for a year. Thanks to my big-city school district, a tutor came to my house three mornings a week. That, along with some homework, easily kept me at grade level. First lesson: if nine hours or less per week is sufficient, schooling doesn’t take six hours a day.
Years later, when my daughter started kindergarten, I informed her teacher that we would be keeping her home for a week in October while her grandparents were visiting. The teacher begged me to reconsider, as our little girl would be missing out on some important work: “We’re going to be learning days of the week.” Her concern was catching, but when I shared my second thoughts with my husband, he just stared at me. Then he asked, “Can’t you can teach her the days of the week?” Second lesson: education doesn’t take an advanced degree.
Just before we began homeschooling I felt prepared, having purchased grade-level textbooks for every subject. It felt good for about two days into our actual school experience. After that it became a continual struggle to work everything in during the allotted time. Gradually I changed tactics, discarded most of the textbooks and began relying on the public library. Third lesson: education doesn’t require a test-and-textbook model.
What began as an experiment expanded to 12 years and two high-school graduations. If I could distill my experience into guidelines, they would be these:
Enjoy your kids. Include them in your daily routine as much as possible. Read to them. Talk to them. Learn along with them—enthusiasm is contagious. Start noticing what they’re good at. Encourage and facilitate what they’re good at. Memorize poems and Bible verses. Limit screen time and prefer books over the internet for finding information. Enjoy your kids.
Most of all, be grateful you can do this. And pray for those who can’t.
I’m Janie B. Cheaney.