Illinois recently released guidelines for schools to return in-person this fall. Some concerned parents are choosing to homeschool their kids this year rather than send them back to in-person classes during COVID-19.
Brandi Poreda has homeschooled three of her kids over the last 20 years. She said the biggest advantage of homeschooling is flexibility.
Her first piece of advice to parents homeschooling for the first time? Don’t try to replicate the public school classroom experience.
“Typically, you can get done in a few hours what takes an entire day in a school classroom because they have so many other things to deal with,” said Poreda.
That means the schedule doesn’t have to be as rigid. She also recommends starting off with subjects both the parents and students enjoy, so they can feed off each other’s enthusiasm.
The curriculum can also be more easily curated. Poreda said parents can purchase expensive, pre-written classes or they can get creative.
Nikki Atterberry and Brad Brad are homeschooling their twin 5-year-old boys. They thought about giving their kids the option to go to public school this year but decided against it because of the pandemic.
Nikki was homeschooled growing up. She recommends that parents test the waters to find a Facebook group with local homeschool families.
She said having a support system will help parents become better teachers and also give students the social opportunities some might worry they could miss out on if they’re not in public school.
“Help your child grow, not just learn things," said Atterberry. "I can see different things in each of my children and see how they respond to things and react and I can adjust accordingly how I'm teaching them.”
Atterberry and Poreda said there are plenty of options to meet other homeschool families and engage with your community.
They also said to check libraries, local museums and YMCAs to find programs that can supplement in-home learning.
Nikki’s husband Brad also works as a para-educator at a public school. He said he tries to take the teaching skills he sees in schools back home and bring the relaxed atmosphere of his home to the public school.
Atterberry said she thinks if parents knew how enriching it would be for them and their kids, more people might do it.