Remember last summer, when we posed a very similar question about whether parents should send their kids back to school? In fact, it was just over a year ago when Decision Time: Should Parents Send Kids Back to School? was published on this site.
Who would have thought we’d be asking the same question a year later? The thing is, we’re asking the question for entirely different reasons. Last year, the primary concerns were:
- Health and safety. Of course, this is still a concern and there is a lot of uncertainty, but things have improved over last year.
- Parents balancing work and school at home. This was a complete culture shock to most of the working world. For parents with younger children, this new way of life was exponentially more difficult–how can you juggle work with school and kids who need constant care and attention?
- The quality of remote learning. We know all about the quality of at-home school during the spring of 2020. Naturally, parents feared the worst throughout the summer…what exactly would fall look like?
This year’s concerns? Well, one stands out among the rest–COVID learning loss (aka COVID slide), and how that will impact all students.
We’ve discussed COVID learning loss in great detail in this space before, but some trends became more readily identifiable this spring:
- Low-income students, particularly of elementary school age, suffered the greatest learning loss, as many of them were unable to connect remotely due to a lack of technology and/or supervision. In fact, fewer students in schools serving mostly Black and Latino students are on grade level compared to schools with a primarily White student population.
- Fewer students overall are on grade level in both reading and math compared to prior years, especially elementary school students for reading and both elementary and middle school students for math.
- Students have made progress this year across all grades, but they continue to fall behind historical performance in elementary school grades.
Early speculation predicted that students would lose anywhere from two to four months of learning as a result of COVID-related shutdowns and remote learning. Those projections increased for minority students as well as those in early education (K-2). While it’s still difficult to quantify exactly how many months of learning were lost during COVID-19, the latest i-Ready research (sampled in the bullet points above) shows that fewer students are where they need to be academically than in previous years.
So, will students bounce back? Or will an entire generation of kids continue to lag behind because of COVID and its effect on schools during the 2021-2020 and 2020-2021 school years?
This brings us to the 2021-22 school year and a potentially problematic scenario: Schools begin next fall under the notion that many students are not where they should be due to COVID learning loss, and they teach their lessons based on that assumption.
- What happens to the kids who thrived during either homeschooling or remote learning but are returning to school in the fall?
- Does that mean the students who are already at grade level and in an academically appropriate place are going to be forced to sit through months of lessons and classes they already know well, simply because other students are behind?
Or, consider the reverse situation: What if teachers proceed as if there was no learning loss?
- Will the students who are not at grade level be completely left behind to fend for themselves? After all, they’re walking into the building on the first day of school already weeks or months behind in certain subjects–and they won’t be given much of an opportunity to catch up before progressing to new material.
Neither situation seems fair, does it? But one of these two will almost certainly occur, because it’s impossible for public or private schools to accommodate only one of the scenarios–that leaves the other in an unenviable situation:
- Students either return to school and learn the same things they already learned while not making any forward progress.
- Or they start the school year already behind and fall even further back because teachers are moving on to new material.
What’s the solution? If you were already homeschooling or even learning remotely, why not continue?
Yes, there are MANY parents who are desperate to get their kids out of the house and back to school. And for good reason. It will be nice for most people to get back into a more normal routine, especially as more and more adults return to the office. And kids, even though we love them and would do anything for them, well…they can be really annoying sometimes.
But…consider this. If your child adapted well to remote learning, or you made the switch to homeschooling but are contemplating sending your child back to their brick-and-mortar school, is any of the above truly worth it?
Your child only gets one shot at a high-quality education. Is it worth risking that once-in-a-lifetime opportunity when no one really has any idea what the school experience will look like come fall? It may be totally fine.
But what if it’s not? What if your child becomes thoroughly bored from re-learning months’ worth of material he already mastered at home? Or what if your student finds herself completely lost and left behind by a class that has already moved on to the next level of learning while she struggled during remote learning?
Homeschooling can help in either situation. If your student thrived academically and personally at home, why not keep that momentum going through the next school year? That child obviously adapted nicely to being at home and figured out how to excel in that situation. Homeschooling can continue to provide the flexibility, customization, and high quality of learning that he or she might not get by returning to public or private school. Besides, most homeschoolers experienced a lot of success and no interruption during the pandemic, while their public and private school peers were enveloped in absolute chaos for at least part of the year.
On the other hand, if your child was struggling with remote learning, perhaps a full, true homeschool experience is what he or she needs at this time. Remote learning (aka school at home) is not, and never will be, the same as true homeschooling. Your student may have fallen behind simply because your school district’s remote learning plan left much to be desired. True homeschooling can fix that through personalized learning in the style that serves them best. And if your child still has his or her heart set on returning to public or private school, perhaps just six months or a year of homeschooling is all that’s needed to get them back on track and where they need to be so they can keep up with their peers in class.
Only you know what is best for your child and your family. There’s no right or wrong choice at this particular time, since none of us can predict what the 2021-22 academic year will present. If you do send your child back to public or private school, we at Bridgeway Academy wish you the best of luck! We hope your child thrives and continues to experience success. Should you decide homeschool is the right choice for your child, Bridgeway is here for you.
We invite you to explore our many independent learning programs, where you can customize your child’s courses and curriculum, as well as our accredited academy programs that provide an all-inclusive homeschool experience. We also offer a wide variety of amazing Live Online Classes that provide an interactive classroom environment.
Call us today at (800) 863-1474 to learn more and to customize your child’s education.