Due to the sheer uncertainty involved with public school education during the current pandemic, more parents are opting to homeschool, or find alternative schooling options for their families. The fall of 2020 is bound to be a semester full of trial-and-error, compromise, and learning as we go. But just because alternative schooling may be new, doesn’t mean it can’t be mutually beneficial for you and your kids. The good news is, there are plenty of options: charter school, homeschool, and more. In this article, we will take you through all the avenues available for alternative schooling so you feel empowered to find the right fit for your family.
- Pros – Although charter schools are technically “public”, they have more flexibility than traditional public schools with how they will implement the new COVID-19 guidelines. Each charter school coordinates with their own leadership team to develop a plan that meets the needs of its community.
- Cons – In counties where schools are still open for in-person instruction, there may be less strict health guidelines. For parents approaching COVID-19 with extra caution, the in-person charter school option may not be ideal.
- High School Options – Are there charter schools available for my high schooler? Yes! Check out this list of the highest ranked charter high schools in California.
- You can find a charter school in your area by visiting California’s Charter School Association website or searching this interactive map.
- The official COVID-19 Considerations for Charter Schools can be found here.
- Pros – The most obvious benefit to homeschooling is the amount of control you have over how your children are educated. If your child has not thrived in a traditional educational setting, homeschooling offers so much flexibility and attention to your child’s specific needs. With the added health risk considerations, homeschooling gives even more peace of mind to parents concerned about how public schools will be implementing COVID-19 guidelines.
- Cons – Homeschooling can be intimidating. The pressure involved with educating your child can be a bit overwhelming and it definitely takes work to find a rhythm and curriculum that works for your kids. But most homeschool parents will tell you that it’s also incredibly rewarding!
- High School Options – Did you know homeschooled high school students can enroll in college courses? With so many online college classes available, it’s a great option right now. If you’re considering this, act quickly, as classes will be filling up soon.
- An extensive FAQ regarding the legality and logistics of homeschool can be found here.
- The California Homeschool Network and The Homeschool Mom are great resources for anyone considering homeschooling.
- Consider the pros and cons of starting homeschool in high school.
Creative Schooling Options
You may be looking at everything involved with charter school and homeschool and wondering…is there a third option? Is there something that combines the safety and freedom of homeschooling with the convenience of an experienced teacher providing instruction for my kiddos? Fortunately, there are some creative options available that fit this description!
Hire a Licensed Teacher
- Pros – If you’re able to find a qualified individual who is willing to teach and supervise your child for the length of a normal school day, you can reap the benefits of maintaining a safe, sterile environment while your child receives one-on-one in-person instruction. This option is also highly conducive to a working parent’s schedule.
- Cons – Finding the right person for the job can be tricky and expensive. Not to mention, this leaves out the peer socialization component for your child (especially if they don’t have siblings). But, if you’re willing to put the time into hunting down your very own Mary Poppins and you have the money to pay them, it’s definitely doable!
- Care.com specializes in connecting families and nannies. You can search based on credentials/skills, and find someone who may fit the bill.
- Other sites like Indeed, LinkedIn, or Ziprecruiter are also good platforms to post a job listing and get connected with teachers seeking private employment.
Send Your Kids to a Microschool aka “Pandemic Pod”
First of all, what is a pandemic pod? This newly popular microschool model consists of 3-10 students who receive an in-person learning experience. Families are coming together and agreeing upon certain safety guidelines they all feel comfortable with for their pod. The teaching schedule is rotated among themselves or some pods opt to hire a teacher.
- Pros – This model allows for students to continue building their social skills and benefit from in-person, hands-on learning. If you’re not able to homeschool, and your kiddo really struggles with distance learning, this may be a great solution. You have the power to choose families who share similar health and educational philosophies, which is a huge plus.
- Cons – The main criticism of microschools is the financial divide between families who can afford this option and those who cannot. Another drawback would be the experimental nature of this approach; at this point in time, it’s difficult to say how successful the microschool model will be.
- New York Times published an enlightening article delving into the cultural phenomenon of pandemic pods.
- Facebook has become the main hub for connecting with and organizing a pod with other families. Use the search bar in Facebook to find a group dedicated to organizing pandemic pods in your area.
Pay a Homeschool Mom
- Pros – There may be a homeschool mom who is willing to take on an extra student or two; in this case, she benefits from the extra income. A huge selling point with this option is the experience she already has homeschooling. Not to mention, all the kids involved end up benefiting from the socialization.
- Cons – Most likely, a homeschool mom is accustomed to teaching her children a certain way and it’s unlikely she will change her approach just for your child. But, if her teaching philosophy is close enough to yours, it could be the solution you’re looking for.
- The best way to get connected with a homeschool mom is through mutual friends, but if you need help networking, try this extensive list of support groups, or search homeschooling groups on Facebook.
Whatever education plan you and your family decide on, rest in the fact that you are doing your best in a very complex and stressful season. This semester will not be perfect by any means, but the more you lean into your support systems and community, the lighter the load becomes. Give extra grace to yourself and your kids as we all continue to find a new normal together.