“Homeschooling…to be or not to be. That is the question. Whether it is nobler in the mind to suffer the slings of remote plans technically botched zoom meetings or to take arms against a sea of snotted masks, hand sanitizers, partitioned desks, disgusting lunchrooms and overheated preschoolers. And, by opposing traditional learning during a pandemic, end it? The idea of whether it is better to live and make eggs during lit class or die by mask suffocation…”
You see, William Shakespeare was not only brilliant, he was a soothsayer with incredible introspection into the future, almost 417 years ago. He saw this coming…well, maybe that’s a lie, but we can always pretend.
Never say never, right? I poo-pooed homeschooling always. I left that up to weirdo parents who cared more about lessening the back and forth driving burden, creating their own schedule and alas created more of an Addams family kind of atmosphere in their homes, raising a child with no friends, or social skills, clipping off rose heads from their stems. I learned a little more about this odd phenomenon after my girls ventured into the acting field. Many kids were homeschooled for auditions, shows, etc…ok, if my kid got a part on Broadway…I might consider it. However, COVID again, the great equalizer left us with no choice, from pre-school thru college.
I was very, very patient in the beginning. At first we were told one week in March. Then, two weeks. Then, through Easter. By the time we hit Easter, we all knew the hidden secret was…we aint going back, sister. Parents? TAG…YOU’RE IT!
I joined the bandwagon at the onset, praising the teachers for rearranging curriculum for what would be fashionably labeled as “the new normal.” And,they certainly deserved it after being hoisted into a cyber classroom from brick and mortar amidst the pitter patter of little feet donned in identical polyester. But, by the time Easter break was over, I was like, yeah…um…what about the rest of us? The heroes were no longer just the teachers who rolled out of bed and sat in their living rooms sucking on ice pops and drinking coffee in their den, still getting paid. It was the untrained parents, the working from home moms and dads, and the kids who too, became the unsung swashbucklers of pre college education. My kids are very self sufficient, but imagine working with a child who needs a lot of help and direction.
Even as a stay at home mom, I felt the pinch of trying to keep the house shrouded in normalcy, cooking, getting up to make sure the cyber home schoolers were in class…using up printer ink and paper faster than Lucy Riccardo and Ethel Mertz on a candy conveyor belt. I reigned victorious with the exception of Albert, who fell back to sleep on many occasions. But, the attention span of a young child, constantly working with glitchy zoom sessions and unnecessary YouTube crap took its toll. Interest wore thin. The kids had to keep themselves together, and so did the parents. Where was our parade? Our recognition? Recognition for the students who knew no better than their friends and their classroom. Nothing. Nada. And, for those of us in private school, no tuition break…paying as if I dropped my children off at 8 and picked them up at 2:15. No thank you. Nothing.
There was some cool gossip… teachers…shut off your mics. I heard one teacher say to her husband, “these kids are so needy.” Uh yeah…they are in seventh grade. This is not a university. Getting insight into how teachers must teach on a day to day was very interesting. Some students were favored, some younger ones flirted with boys, and some just did not care. I had a myriad of grades…from first through 11th. Interesting to say the least. Sometimes I felt my kids were cheated and taken advantage of because of the change.
What would have made it better? From a parent’s perspective, rather than shoving curriculum down the throats of kids just to get it done, stupid non sensical freeze dance Zoom meetings, and youtube art lessons, take the time to meet with educators who do home school and know how it’s done. There is ingenuity to it, a curriculum made just for this kind of learning. Easter break would have been the time to consult and at the very least implement some kind of real home school strategy. My daughters’ high school got it, and toned down the work, adding a few days off where they could.
It could have been way more successful and fruitful if it were manipulated the correct way, because do you know what?? I loved having my kids home! I loved not having to drive them at all hours of the day, afternoon and night. I loved not fighting over the bathroom and toothpaste, knotty hair and bad breath. It was refreshing…not leaving an assignment at home…ordering lunch that you can only order weeks in advance. No looking for clean socks and screaming about who has to sit in the third row for a four minute ride to school. And, here’s the kicker…not one of them said, “Gee…I miss school.” One day, my nine year old, Camilla, turned to me and said, “I like being home with you, mommy.” That was my parade. My salary. My trophy and my gratitude.
If it has to be, I am ready to tackle it again…but with more information and better learning tools. A parent is a child’s teacher, always…and I will gladly do it again, with better structure. Because, seriously, sending a kid back with partitions and masks is ridiculous, unless you want to get phone calls from the school nurse that your kid passed out or vomited in the cafeteria. That is not a way to learn. Children need to have a second haven in school, not a war zone. This is their childhood, and it’s fragile. And yes, they should know tough, they should know flexible, and adapt to change. But, I would rather have that change take place in my home, in their home, with parents who love them because they love them, not because it’s a paying job.
So, I stand corrected on the merits of homeschooling…homeschooling being the operative word. Because, in the end, nobody has my children’s best interests at heart, loves them or knows them like I do. I kind of get it now…