We Are Not Homeschooling During the Pandemic


As an introvert, nothing makes me happier than being in my own home. I like the comfort of my space, so working from home isn’t as much of a perk as it is a requirement. 

When we were getting ready to enroll our son in kindergarten, I half-jokingly told my husband I was considering homeschooling him. So many perks: I like control and being organized; I like having my people close to me; I thought (perhaps naively) how hard can it be? It didn’t take much discussion for me to see the cons to my stellar list of perks, and there were many cons for our family in the realm of homeschooling, but the top of our list was the social aspect.

We Are Not Homeschooling During the Pandemic | Duluth Moms Blog

While I know that there are lots of very vibrant home-schooling co-ops, I knew that was probably going to be hard for me to undertake and we’d probably have spent most of our time schooling at home. Preschool showed us that our son likes to interact with his friends and although he tends towards some of my introverted tendencies, he is a social boy. We needed to put him in a setting where he would learn best and that was not going to be in our home.

Admittedly, when the Coronavirus pandemic started sweeping the nation and the governor announced that Minnesota schools would be closing and transitioning into online learning for an unknown period of time, I was kind of excited. Finally, my chance to play at homeschooling was coming true. 

There were two days of school before the distance learning started, and I took that time to immediately get to work on my dream. I printed off several learning activities (art and science), I went to the library before it closed to stock up on all the best non-fiction books I could think of, and I started making a daily schedule, complete with time for SCHOOL WORK! and CREATIVE TIME! and CHORES! It was color-coded and there were so many suggestions as to what my 4th grade son could do to fill his new-found time at home.

Who doesn’t want to get up and make sure they are dressed, teeth and hair brushed, bed made, laundry in the bin, breakfast eaten, ready to face the day by 9am? Who is not inspired to wipe down door handles and pick up trash along the sidewalk and clean all the surfaces that anyone would even pretend to breathe on before lunch? What 9 year old doesn’t want to have mandated OUTSIDE TIME with their 4 year old sister every single day? And who in their right mind wouldn’t love a lesson on GERMS AND HOW MOLD GROWS (complete with a lab, daily observations, and a thoughtfully written response at the conclusion)? Who doesn’t want this wonderfully diverse (albeit, rigid) schedule?

We Are Not Homeschooling During the Pandemic | Duluth Moms Blog

I’ll tell you who: my son. Much to my shock and surprise, that boy revolted when I showed him my (very, very large) poster of our new daily schedule. There were actual tears (both of us) and a very noisy fit thrown in for good measure (also both of us). There was yelling (again, yes, both of us). And then we huffed away from each other to sulk and bemoan the fact that we are each so, so misunderstood by the other.

I spent the next several days crying and eating chocolate in my office (aka: the laundry room) and my son binge watched all the seasons of Scooby-Doo on his tablet and played way too much Fortnite. The reality is that I was scared out of my mind (and I still am) and he was, too (and he still is). This world seems so out of control right now, and I needed to feel like I had some semblance of control and I placed that burden very heavily on planning out my son’s education for the next several weeks. But the truth is that you can’t pull a 180 on your kid’s education and expect it to flow smoothly or even expect your kid to hop on board your new school bus. 

The biggest lightbulb moment for me over the past few weeks, however, was the realization that I’m not my son’s teacher. In fact, he has a fantastic teacher and she is working so incredibly hard to make this new learning style fun and easy to navigate for all of her students. She has been working on moving all of their in-class assignments to an online platform; she’s navigating messages from students and parents (all right the parent is me; I send her the all the messages). I imagine she’s also trying to maintain some semblance of a life outside of her new school platform. And I’m sure that balance is difficult to maintain.

This is messy work right now; it’s hard and scary and there are no rules and the rules we do have change almost as often as we wash our hands. I very quickly realized that I needed to lower my expectations. And then, just for good measure, I lowered them again. There’s going to be way more screen time than I care to admit to. But there have also been so many more family walks and Legos with his little sister and face time calls with his cousins and we’re busy reading the Harry Potter series out loud. I did create a daily schedule, but I did it with my son; he’s happy to have free time to watch NatGeo videos and I’m happy to have dedicated time for school work. 

We Are Not Homeschooling During the Pandemic | Duluth Moms Blog

Mostly, though, I’m glad that I’m not homeschooling my son during the pandemic. He’s doing his school work at home, yes, but I’m not planning it or initiating it or grading it. I consider us co-schooling; I’m happy to support his teacher in whatever capacity she needs me to and leave the actual teaching part to the professional.

This article was written by past contributor, Heather Hefter. Thanks for returning to lend us your talents again, Heather!