There’s no lack of confusion when it comes to what education looks like this fall with COVID-19 restrictions. Parents need to evaluate what’s best for their family, schools need to plan for any scenario under the sun and pleasing everyone is an impossible task. We contacted local education consultant, Marci Howell of Marci Howell Educational Services for an inside look at school options for parents in Pennsylvania.
Excerpt from Marci Howell Educational Services’ Facebook page:
As a general comparison, here are some advantages and disadvantages of alternative schooling options:
• Cybers and homeschooling are not ideal for everyone – parents need to be engaged and involved to help students ease through the transition. And students need to buy in so that you won’t have a constant battle on your hands over getting school work done. Some of this is parenting (knowing how to motivate them without the battles) and some of it is stubbornness in the kids. But look at those issues honestly before making a move.
• Most cyber charters provide live online classes along with an asynchronous common core aligned curriculum (which most students can work through on their own, without a teacher). Doing cybers, your kids will be online quite a bit. Probably not ideal for young kids to be on the computer a lot.
• Homeschooling allows you to pick curriculum and topics to study. There are many approaches to homeschooling – some very structured like school and some very open and loose (unschooling). Most families tend to lie between the two extremes. Just know that homeschooling doesn’t have to be boring and full of workbooks & busy work. It can be fun, meaningful, and enriching.
• Many school districts had their own online option before the pandemic hit. These have varying reviews, in my experience. But they’re free, and your tax money stays in the district this way.
• Cyber charters are also free, but part of the tax money per student gets transferred from the local district to the cyber as tuition.
• Homeschooling is not free. You can find great free resources online. You can get a whole year’s curriculum for just a couple hundred dollars and utilize your local library for a lot. You can get school done in a couple hours, and enjoy fresh air and family for the rest.
• Many cybers offer group gatherings and field trips. Homeschoolers are notorious for getting together and doing day outings and field trips. And there are homeschool co-ops all over.
Some questions to ask yourself:
• Am I running away from something or toward something? If that’s too direct, how about – am I trying to get away from something negative or an I moving toward something positive? Are my motives right?
• What’s your why? Is the whole family on board?
• Are you prepared to trudge through the rough days and learn different parenting approaches?
Questions to ask a cyber school:
• Are live lessons provided? Are they mandatory?
• How flexible are due dates? (Generally, they should give two weeks before temporary zeros or late penalties.)
• What supports do you offer struggling students (IEP support, one-on-one help, group tutoring, etc.)? How available are the teachers?
• How long should I expect my child to be on the computer daily at this age?
If you weren’t considering changing your child’s education setting before the coronavirus, then it might be best to wait it out and see how the school year starts. Hopefully, schools will be more prepared in August, so don’t make a decision based on what happened in March when the shut down started. At Life’s Choices, we want to provide you with the best resources available for all your parenting needs. Please contact us if we can support you in any way!
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