Should Our Children Return To The Classroom?
Should Our Children Return To The Classroom?
Dear Tacit,

Our school board is asking our family to make a decision this week about whether our children will be returning to school in the classroom, through distance education or via homeschooling.  There seems to be no good choice here and my anxiety is through the roof.  How do we make this decision?

Signed: Anxiously Undecided
Dear Anxiously Undecided,

So many families are facing this huge decision this year – you are not alone!  And to be honest, there is no easy answer to your question.  We have never before experienced this kind of dilemma – COVID is creating so many “firsts” and so constantly for us all.  The anxiety being felt is at an all time high.

Every family is going to have to try to determine what works best for their own situation.  Some parents will be wrestling with the worry that their children may not receive the full education normally received from qualified teachers in an in-person classroom setting, if the kids are homeschooled.  Some parents will worry about the very important social learning/development aspect of the education process (which happens during recess, at lunch, through sports groups and clubs – not just in the classroom setting) that might be missed if kids attend virtually and not in-person.  Some parents may be struggling with the fear that their child (or the whole family) may get sick if they are exposed to the regular school environment, even with the safety precautions being suggested.  The choice between home schooling and distance education options can get very confusing, especially with school systems wanting students to be registered in certain ways for funding purposes (we all know there is no where near enough dollars available for the kids needs even before this COVID complication).  And we are seeing other suggestions being offered as possible alternatives – school cohorts being created as an in-between solution; private tutors and community school assistance programs being explored as regular educational services; etc.

No one can tell you what will be best for you family’s needs.  Remember the old adage (from Abraham Lincoln) – “you cannot please all of the people, all of the time”.  Not all parents are able to step into the teacher role; not all families can be together constantly; not everyone has the option for increased and privatized educational financial pressures.  But here I what I do know will help.  Parents must stop thinking they need to have all the answers right away – that they will only have one chance to decide what they want to do.  Nothing will be set in stone by September – whatever you decide in the next couple of weeks is not s fate your children will be subjected to for the next 10 months.  The classroom protocols and the flow of the school day will be changing for weeks (maybe even months) after school begins again in the fall, as theories of what works best are put to the test, and changes are made to fix the problems that arise.  Many families experienced a bit of this learning curve last spring, when the kids all tried virtual classrooms and parental teaching to various degrees.  The glitches did not all get resolved even with those 3 months of practice.  Whatever you decide now CAN be changed in a month or two, if you feel the decision is not working well.  Be patient with yourself (and with the school options), as there will be many changes – and the systems will need time to adjust/manage them all.  Take a deep breath and tell yourself you are making this decision “for now”.  Stay flexible – don’t put pressure on yourself to have the perfect answer right away – and allow yourself (and your children) the freedom to try a few different things to see what works best, if you need to.

Take care!

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