If you’re anything like me, you’ve been thinking (okay, stressing) a lot about what's best for your kids this upcoming academic year. If there’s one thing the lockdown afforded us, it was a chance to pause and ask what was and wasn’t working about our lives and our children’s education.
As the old saying goes, “We make plans. God laughs.”
But as the countdown to back-to-school time begins, and armed with the knowledge the pandemic revealed, our family has made school plans for each of our four kids. The plans are tailored to each kid’s personality and learning style.
We’re customizing our kids’ education
One thing I love about living in Washington state is the myriad of options for a custom education. Homeschooling requirements are minimal, and resources and support provided by our district (and many districts in the area) are pretty awesome. In our district, Northshore School District, students have a few different options for alternative learning.
Pre-pandemic, we never really took advantage of those options. With careers and small children to keep up with, it never felt like there was time to research an individualized approach for each of our kids. But now that we’ve had a year at home, we’ve had the time and space to think about how we might want to do things differently and we’re taking advantage of the options provided by our district to varying degrees with each of our four children.
Our oldest, age 15, will go to high school on campus three days a week, and stay home and do online school two days a week. This will reduce her long bus commute, give her time for music and art, and allow her more downtime at home (something we learned this past year that she desperately needs).
Our middle daughter, age 13, is chomping at the bit to return to school full time. She’s also anxious to return to the various involvements she participated in before life shut down in the spring of 2020. This won’t require us to customize anything about her schooling but she'll keep us busy in other ways.
Our youngest daughter, age 10, will attend the district-provided homeschool classes in the fall. A combination of learning disabilities and a difficult past year have left her academically behind. We’ve hired a tutor to help her catch up — a privilege we can afford, but just barely.
Our son, age 8, will attend our district’s PACE Program (Parents Active in Cooperative Education) a co-op-style elementary school. This means we’ll have to find time to volunteer 80 hours over the course of the year — this is required to participate in the program.
Phew! It’s going to be a busy year so ...
We’re limiting other activities
Pre-pandemic, our kids were involved in multiple sports, music lessons and other activities. We’ve realized that this year it just isn’t going to be possible to do it all again. In part, our time in lockdown made us realize that we liked the slower pace of life. We also feel it’s probably safest to limit how many different social events and engagements we’re involved in until community transmission of the coronavirus is completely under control.
We're keeping some pandemic routines
Over the course of our time in lockdown, we developed routines at home that have helped us to bond as a family. We’ve also learned to be more emotionally attuned and responsive, given the very big emotions the pandemic at times brought out in our kids.
Now that we’re returning to some sense of normalcy (fingers crossed), we are hoping to take the lessons we’ve learned about how to be present and connected into this next year.