In the United States, schools have been shuttered indefinitely, with some states indicating that students won’t be required to make up the lost attendance time and the U.S. Department of Education waiving annual standardized testing mandates. Districts are scrambling to offer online learning options, and many parents find themselves in the role of a reluctant homeschooler.
As a homeschooling mother of four, I can say with confidence that this is experience is nothing like typical homeschooling. Libraries and museums are closed, community classes are canceled, friends are distanced, and we’re all stuck inside.
While far from ideal, this sudden, large‐scale experiment in homeschooling and virtual learning will prompt more families to question conventional mass schooling and explore education alternatives.
School districts are grappling with how to continue the school year while students are at home, including establishing online learning options.
But some schools are realizing that any curriculum they assign will be deemed optional, for enrichment purposes only, because they can’t ensure that all students have internet connectivity and equal access to the content.
This presents an opportunity for parents and children to disconnect from standardized curriculum and district assignments and discover the abundant resources and learning tools available to them.
Parents will see that they don’t need to know how to teach their kids algebra because Khan Academy, a free, online learning platform, can help their children build math skills. Parents don’t need to know how to teach a foreign language because free tools such as Duolingo can help their children learn almost any language they choose.
There is even more digital programming sprouting now that paid content providers are offering their courses for free during these weeks of social distancing, and organizations such as museums put their collections online.
Parents can help facilitate their child’s learning by connecting them to these ample resources, but they shouldn’t feel the pressure to replicate school at home. Instead of dwelling on how to “keep the learning going” during this difficult time, parents should focus instead on allowing learning to happen.