SALT LAKE — When the school district announced its plan for the upcoming school year amid the current pandemic, I was livid.
Oh, wait, that’s the wrong word. I think the word I’m looking for is … fine. I was just fine.
"What a strange thing to say," you’re probably thinking. "Why would she be fine? She has nine kids; she must have an opinion she has to share with us that will help us decide what to do with our kids."
Nope, I’m fine. That's because even before the COVID-19 pandemic hit, there were education options that didn’t just include going to a brick-and-mortar school all day and every day — options that my family was very much taking advantage of.
Prior to COVID-19 closing schools, I had my high school-aged kids doing a hybrid learning approach where they were taking a few online classes through the district and the rest at school. Doing this helped them have in-person classes when they needed it and the chance to complete other classes online at their own pace.
This schedule also allowed my high schoolers to be home early, and have time at home before heading to their extracurricular activities. Doing things this way has also helped them get ahead with some of their credits, as they have been able to take extra classes.
And I’m not gonna lie, having some extra big kids around to help with my little ones has been pretty much awesome sauce.
As a mother of several children and a former public school educator (who is also married to a teacher), I know that the one-size-fits-all approach is something that only applies to adjustable baseball caps, and even then, it’s an iffy concept. I also know that spur of the moment online homeschool while flying by the seat of your pants, as we all experienced in the spring, doesn’t work for my family.
Over the years of having school-aged children, adjustments have had to be made, depending on what’s been going on at school and in my home. There have been times when I’ve had one or two of my children homeschooling with me because it’s what they needed. There have been times when sending them to school all day was what they needed.
As a working mom who helps support her family on a very modest income (who is also more often than not, operating on snippets of sleep) there have also been times when despite my children’s pleadings to stay home, I have had to send them to school.
Even with my play-it-by-circumstance approach, I think it’s safe to say that my kids are just fine, if not better for it. I hope their educational options have helped my children learn that in life there is more than one way to get a job done.
Muscling through a system that is wonderful, yet far from perfect is one way to do it; but creating your own path is, too.
You may find yourself in a situation where you think that you have no options other than what your school district is offering. But if you do some searching and talk to your school district's administrators, you might just find an option that works better for you and your family. It really doesn’t hurt to look.
If you’d like to know what our plans are, my high schoolers will likely keep doing what they’ve done before. Middle school is a turbulent time, so we’ll play that one by ear. My elementary-aged kids have expressed a desire to go to school, and I am honoring their decision while reserving the right to change that if things aren’t going well. I imagine, though, that things will be fine — because that’s the word of the day, isn’t it?
If you’re concerned about how the upcoming school year will go, my advice to you, for what it’s worth, is to take a look at your family dynamics and move forward with the options that have always been available to you (but you may not have known about) — even before COVID-19 "changed" things.
What are some ways you've done school with your kids even before the pandemic? What are your plans now? Let us know about your schooling options in the comments.