Plans for the upcoming 2020-2021 school year are still in flux, with local districts, county health departments, and state officials still locked in a back-and-forth involving the balance between in-person or remote learning.
But online education will be an inevitability in some form or another for millions of Texas students this year, with many districts still committed to at least starting the year with an online-only model.
The prospect of converting a corner of the living room to a dedicated classroom space for a child is an entirely new one for many families.
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But homeschool families are very familiar with the concept and have a wealth of advice for the newcomers.
“What I tell people is, look, just do what you think right now is the best thing for your child, and don’t feel like this is a lifetime decision, ‘I’ve got to make this decision. It’s going to impact my kids for the rest of their lives,’” said Tim Lambert, President of the Texas Homeschool Coalition, a statewide advocacy organization dedicated to promoting homeschooling and supporting homeschool families.
Lambert said that in recent months, interest in the information and resources his organization has access to has led to the weekly call volume tripling, from around 300 calls to nearly 900. That spike in interest caused the Texas Homeschool Coalition to launch a completely separate website, specifically dedicated to helping parents to navigate handling education from home.
Lambert stressed that the remote learning situation that many families will encounter this year is decidedly different from homeschooling, the primary difference being that the remote learning will be based on a central curriculum and happen at the directed pace of the school district.
But the familiar theme of handling the education of the child from a home setting is one that Lambert noted can work well, so long as the parents prepare.
“If you are going to do this, it would be better to have a plan; a plan in terms of what curriculum you are going to use, how you are going to do that, a plan in terms of schedule, and then a place where you are going to do that,” Lambert said. “Our homeschool moms say if you wake up in the morning and you are wondering what you are going to do in school that day, that is not a plan.”
A good plan should involve setting aside a dedicated workspace for the student, designed to keep distractions to a minimum and to help keep educational materials all in one place.