Why We Chose to Homeschool Kyle This School Year
I honestly don't even know how to start this blog post, and definitely don't have a fancy literary way to start this off, so I'll lead with this. 2020 is the worst. Now that we got that out of the way, I wanted to talk about what went into us making the hard decision to homeschool Kyle this upcoming school year, even though we're still planning on sending Kinsley to public school.
Backing up to a few months ago Kyle was at a private school during the pandemic, did remote learning which wasn't awful, but also not ideal. It took 2+ hours of very hands on course work from me each day, while also having several zoom meetings throughout the week that we had to stay on top of and juggle with all of life's demands. I will say that I loved his school, and after hearing what other kids got in the remote learning deal, I think we fared a lot better than most to be honest. I think Kyle got everything he could of out of second grade academically, despite finishing the last half of the year at home.
That being said, when we originally thought he was going back to the private school for third grade, I was relieved to hear from the principal that the kids were going to return to school no matter what (unless Utah went back to the red which so far it has not). Then we bought our new home and part of that whole situation was we were buying here for Kyle to go back to the school he went to for Kindergarten and First Grade. He was so excited about that, and at the time I was super jazzed because we'd gotten an email during the summer from the district saying school would be starting full time in the fall.
Last week we got the rug ripped out from underneath us and were told that our district was going to be doing 1/2 virtual learning and 1/2 in person learning. How it shook out was that kids with a last name in the first half of the alphabet would go to school M/W and remote learn T/TH/F and kids with a last name in the second half of the alphabet would go to school T/TH and remote learn M/W/F. This was strike one for me.
Strike two through a million were the following: kids that went to school M/W would not be able to make up their in person school day on Fridays if there was a holiday or something that would prevent them from going to school on a Monday. Meaning the kids with a last name in the second half of the alphabet simply get more in person days than the kids in the other half because of where their last name fell. This meant most weeks I'd be doing all the work at home three days a week, and some weeks would be four days a week. That in and of itself made the entire thing seem useless.
Other things the school sent out were: Kids would be doing most of their remote work on a screen, and would also be heavily utilizing technology in the classrooms (I didn't want my Kyle staring at a screen all day long to complete his work), kids would only be given 15 minutes to eat their lunch in the cafeteria (I've never seen Kyle eat a meal in 15 minutes in my life), kids would be instructed in games at recess where they could play with friends 6 feet a part (I get it but it sounds awful). They would also only get PE and their other specials once per month.
For me it was just a lot of things that were stacking against each other that made me feel like I wasn't willing to jump through all of the hoops with the school district until things went back to normal. I feel like my mental health has really been struggling through all of this and I realize that my highs and lows are almost entirely based off what the school district is and is not doing. I decided that cutting ties and making decisions for my child on where, when, and how he receives his education puts me in the driver seat.
If I'm going to be remote learning 3-4 days, I might as well do it five days a week, pick my own curriculum, and not have to jump through a million hoops and zoom meetings to get work done each day. We've homeschooled in the past, and knowing I can get through a day's work in 1-2 hours, report to no one but myself (and the state at some point?), and do it with pen and paper and minimal screens works best for us, although I know and respect that it's not for everyone.
There are a few obstacles in all of this because we are going to be keeping Kinsley in public school right now. Kinsley simply does not participate in learning at home. She's good for maybe a week and then she's over it and doesn't really want anything to do with it anymore. We need the support of her school team and anything they're willing to help her with. She also gets PT/OT/ and speech services at school which are an amazing blessing in her life. School in general is an amazing blessing in her life and I have so much respect for everyone in education in general, but especially special education.
Her school did send out a notice saying that if your child has a valid reason for switching from the M/W track to the T/TH track you could apply to have your days switched, which I did, and am crossing my fingers it gets accepted. I am teaching PE at Kyle's old private school two days a week this upcoming school year, and the days I teach are the exact days that Kinsley and Kyle would both be home for remote learning. It's one thing for Kyle to be doing his work at home without me and Derek loosely monitoring while Derek himself is working, but it's really just not practical for Derek to be able to watch/entertain Kinsley and monitor Kyle's school work while he is also trying to do his job. So we're praying hard that they throw us a bone and approve our switch.
How the plan will logistically all work out is that I will homeschool Kyle in the mornings on Monday, Wednesday, Friday, while also trying to keep up with some semblance of school for Kinsley. On Tuesday's and Thursday's I'll have to use the time between getting home from teaching and making dinner to do Kyle's school work if he hasn't been able to get it done before I get home. We might be able to get into a routine where he does some of it while I'm gone for things that are self guided like handwriting, and reading passages and answering questions, but for things that need instruction like math and English, they'll have to wait until I get home. Also hoping that Kinsley won't be home on Tuesdays and Thursdays otherwise that's going to turn our house into a real-life wild west situation.
Because I know it will be asked, we did keep Kyle very heavily involved in all of the decision making process. We explained to him what school was going to look like, and the real possibility that kids could go back to school, just for things to get bad again and there be a full closure. We even asked him if he'd want to go back to his private school which would be five full days of school and he verbally told me that he didn't want to go back to any school public or private until things were back to normal, and that when they were normal he wanted to go to public school where he'd be with all his friends from church and the neighborhood. So while this was mostly a mutually agreed conversation between Derek and I, Kyle was also 100% onboard with no backlash at all.
For anyone who is curious and still reading, we are using curriculum entirely from The Good and The Beautiful. My main reason for going this route was because it was highly rated by all my homeschool friends, they claim to be a touch more rigorous than public school so I hopefully won't have to worry about Kyle being behind when he does go back to school, and it was much cheaper than most other curriculums we researched. We bought everything he needed for math, science, english, social studies, and handwriting for $130. When we tried to piece everything together with companies we've used in the past, the totals were $400+. I love that TGATB has everything for the student and teacher bundled together whereas other places have packs you have to purchase for the student, and packs you have to buy for the parents. So it turns into you paying double for all the things. I just loved that TGATB was all inclusive with everything, and it was generally more affordable than other places and highly rated by my mama friends!
I think that is everything you'd ever want to know about our homeschool situation for next year. We'll be sure to keep you updated with how this all shakes out in practice over the coming months. The district has said school won't go back to normal until January at the earliest, so we know we'll be doing this for at least the next 4-5 months. Wish us luck!