Reflecting on time as a homeschool student brings hope for kids in COVID-19 era
The COVID-19 outbreak has given us many new challenges to ponder and a new reality to face. It has also given us an opportunity to look backward on our lives in search of past experiences that might help each of us make sense of the situation and bring some hope and peace to others who may be struggling. The closure of all childcare facilities, schools, and colleges for the time being has been daunting to accept for those of us in the education community – from advocates like us at the Prichard Committee for Academic Excellence, to teachers, parents and students.
I am now sharing my story – or rather my journey – so that parents who are worried about their children’s educational futures in the wake of this crisis might see a glimmer of hope for what could be.
When I was old enough for kindergarten, my parents chose to homeschool me. My dad, an electrician, worked outside of the home, and my mother stayed home with me. We had a room in our house set up as a classroom – complete with school desks and textbooks. We also had a daily schedule – no television or toys until our lessons were done.
Having a community of support was the key to success. This was in the 1980s – before the internet revolutionized at home learning. There were no Facebook support groups or virtual classrooms, but we had a support system. We had our family members – my grandmother was a public school teacher and she gave us access to the curriculum and other learning resources we needed. We also had a group of other homeschool families that we collaborated with regularly. There were science fairs, field trips and baking contests – and most importantly – other kids my age to learn with.
The ideal that stayed with me the most, however, was my mother’s insistence that learning be a part of my life – for the rest of my life – and it didn’t have to be confined to a classroom. Lessons were in the storybooks I read, in the shapes of road signs, in the bounce of a ball.
Some of these lessons even shaped the path of my adult life. When I was 9 years old, a reporter from the Kentucky Post came to our house to write a feature story about homeschooling. I was fascinated by the reporter’s questions, storytelling process, and photography skills. When I entered public school in 1990 as a sixth grader, writing was my favorite subject, and by the time I reached high school, I put my skills to use at the school newspaper. In 2002 I graduated from Eastern Kentucky University – I was the first person in my family to graduate college since my grandmother – with a degree in journalism.
Times have changed drastically in the 30+ years since I was in elementary school – and the challenges we face now with the COVID-19 outbreak are unprecedented. Despite these challenges, I see so much hope for our students, because learning and inspiration are everywhere in this new environment. Teachers and parents are innovating like never before to make sure that daily learning continues even while we are practicing social distancing.
During this stressful time, having the added pressure of ensuring your children are learning at home every day seems scary – but just remember that learning opportunities are everywhere – not just in your child’s learning packets or on a computer screen. Something could be happening to them right now that will shape their adult lives in the most positive way you can imagine.
Do you have a #lifelesson you’d like to share to help inspire teachers, parents or students during the COVID-19 crisis? Tweet #lifelesson or send us an email at Jessica.firstname.lastname@example.org.