Since early March of this year when the World Health Organization first recognized the Coronavirus as a worldwide pandemic, U.S. schools have been closing. Most of them have closed for the remainder of the 2019-2020 school year. Students were instantly re-assigned from traditional classrooms to dining room tables, bedrooms and home offices across the country. Public school teachers had to quickly re-train themselves to deliver lesson plans remotely and virtually. In response to the rapid spread of the virus, many parents who were re-assigned to working from home forty hours a week, suddenly became home school teachers and school administrators in addition to their already stressful workload.
What was happening across the country was not so much a “homeschooling” experience, but more a “school at home” version of public school. Students, parents and teachers had to adapt quickly. Schools reacted by either live-streaming their actual teaching staff into the homes of students who were once in their traditional classroom or setting up some form of “pick-up” schedule for homework assignments and drop-off schedule for completed homework. At the same time, some parents elected to move their children into a “home school” situation that afforded them the opportunity to more closely select and monitor what their children would be learning at home.
Home School and School-at-Home defined
In a traditional “home school” education model, parents decide how to teach and educate their children. The Explore Parents website defines home schooling as a situation in which “parents choose to educate their children at home instead of sending them to a traditional public or private school. Families choose to home school for a variety of reasons, including dissatisfaction with the educational options available, different religious beliefs or educational philosophies, and the belief that [their] children are not progressing within the traditional school structure.” (https://www.parents.com/kids/education/home-schooling/homeschooling-101-what-is-homeschooling/)
Most families who follow the school-at-home approach tend towards using a “packaged” curriculum that comes with textbooks, study schedules, grades, and record keeping. This approach most closely duplicates a traditional classroom experience and is somewhat similar to the model public schools offer to homebound students during the Coronavirus pandemic lockdown. Some schools go beyond this model and offer a teacher live-streaming his or her lesson plans into students’ homes.
School Closures Update
As of April 28, 2020, at 6:30 PM, ET, the online education news report, Education Week, stated that “There are at least 98,000 public schools and at least 34,000 private schools in the U.S., according to the National Center for Education Statistics. Those schools educate almost 50.8 million public school students and 5.8 million private school students.” The current closure count shows that “43 states, 4 U.S. territories, and the District of Columbia have ordered or recommended school building closures for the rest of the academic year, affecting approximately 45.1 million public school students.” (https://www.edweek.org/ew/section/multimedia/map-coronavirus-and-school-closures.html)
For detailed information concerning state-by-state school closures, visit: http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/campaign-k-12/2020/04/coronavirus_and_schools_state_guide.html.
How the Shift to Online Learning Has Impacted Traditional Education Models
The Dispatch newspaper, based in Columbus/Starkville Mississippi, wrapped up how the switch to online learning has changed the way “school” is done:
“Online education at the K-12 level has several variables that students, parents and teachers have had to adapt to quickly. It relies on technology and internet service when not everyone has equal access to both, and the home environment provides distractions that don’t exist in classrooms.
“Teachers also have to be reachable via phone and video conference to make up for the lack of in-person interaction, and they have had to get creative with how they present their virtual lessons. Depending on the district, some teachers have designated office hours during the week, while others develop lessons and are on call during regular school hours. Districts also have compiled and made available paper learning packets for students who do not have high-speed internet at home.” (https://www.cdispatch.com/news/article.asp?aid=80606 )
In addition, many public schools are utilizing online classroom tools offered via Google Classrooms and the Zoom platform. Families are slowly adapting to online learning, but the question remains as to whether “school at home” or “home schooling” will change the hearts and minds of America about how K-12 education should be structured in the coming years.
How Homeschooling Will Change After the Pandemic Passes
While it’s possible that the base number of students who were home schooled before the pandemic won’t change in any statistically relevant way, the home schooling “model” itself may experience a re-birth. Blended learning, which creates a “mix” between technology and standard classroom learning, will likely be a much more prominent home school model. Home school parents may significantly close the gap between the concepts of “school at home” and traditional home schooling, moving closer to the “school at home” model via blended learning.
GSN – An Excellent Source for Blended Learning Curriculum Choices
For more than fifteen years, Global Student Network (GSN) has been a leader in providing innovative online curriculum to homeschool families and partnering schools throughout the world. GSN learning products include a wide range of online curriculum options with over 2000 course offerings in the areas of Honors courses, AP®, World Languages, and Career and Technical Education courses. GSN programs have been used successfully by homeschool families as well as public, private, and charter schools, both nationally and internationally.
Learn more about Global Student Network’s (GSN) curriculum offerings and how GSN can meet your individual homeschooling needs at: https://globalstudentnetwork.com/.