Wrestling with the School Decision

By Olivia Brinker

When the pandemic hit and schools closed, I really struggled with E-Learning. My kids are 6, 4, and 2. It was chaos here. We were not prepared for schooling at home. Between my younger two not being used to quiet time and structure and my 6 year old needing help with schoolwork at every turn, I was struggling to keep it together. I had dreamed of homeschooling before having kids, but quickly realized I was not cut out for it. However, I was told by some who homeschooled for years that crisis schooling and homeschooling are VERY different. The kids weren’t able to visit friends or go on field trips so even the homeschooling moms struggled. I am certain that this coming school year will come with many challenges, especially for kids as young as mine. So, what do we do? With a 1st grader and two in pre-k, I have been battling with whether we should do public school or homeschool. Maybe you are struggling with this choice as well. Here is a peek inside my anxiety ridden brain…

Public/Private School

Pros

  • Seeing Friends Everyday

I’m not sure why this is such a big one for me. It’s not like they wouldn’t see their friends all school year.

  • Being Taught be a Trained Professional

I adore teachers and have been around many great ones while subbing for teachers’ aides before having kids. The grace and patience they display is incredible!

  • They Are Learning Everything They Will Need For Their Return to Public School

This is connected to the bullet above. Once again, teachers are superheroes!

  • Time to Myself

Only one of my kids will be in school all day and the other two will be doing pre-k at different times, so I will always have at least one kid with me. But seriously, going from three at home to one…heaven.

Cons

  • How Often Will They Be Sick

I know how school works. Kids are gross and even with masks and distancing, there is no way to completely keep illnesses from spreading.

  • Speaking of….Masks and Distancing

My 1st grader will be fine with this. We have had conversations and she wears her mask well when in the store. However, she is social and not being able to sit with her friends at lunch and play with them closely will be really hard for her. My two younger kids are a different story. How do you keep masks on a bunch of 3-5 year olds in a pre-k room where a lot of their learning is through playing TOGETHER?

  • And When Students DO Get Sick

We already have the common cold, flu, and stomach bug that pull them out of school for days, sometimes weeks, at a time. When someone tests positive for Covid, the whole school, or classroom in some cases, shuts down for at least 2 weeks. That’s a lot of uncertainty and would be really hard on my littles. They need routine and structure.

  • Money

Now, in many cases, public school is the cheapest option. However; I found that between registration, school pictures, school supplies, shoes, and lunch money we would save money keeping them home. I’ll talk more about that in the homeschool pros!

Homeschooling

Pros

  • Our Faith

Now, while our school is public, it is small and made up of a lot of fairly conservative families (which is why I’m so willing to put them in this public school). However, what I find so cool about the homeschooling curriculum I have my eye on is how EVERY subject has biblical foundations and intertwines the story of our Creator and salvation. EVERY SUBJECT!

  • Time Spent DOING School

Instead of spending 6 to 7 hours at school, we would be able to complete the necessary schoolwork by lunchtime AND in 4 days a week. I know they are doing much more than just sitting in a desk while at school, but this would give us so much time together and allow for many more adventures than full-time school will allow.

  • Money

Like I said before, I would be saving money if I kept them at home. This is because 1st grade curriculum can be found fairly cheap and even cheaper if you buy used. Also, my two pre-k kiddos don’t really need a curriculum so that would basically be free! (I will add that their program at school is funded by a grant and I would only be paying a $50 snack fee plus supplies for one of them.)

  • Less Restrictions

While I’m not exactly anti-mask, I do believe it will make things worse for kids as young as mine. At home, they wouldn’t have that distraction.

  • No Worrying About School Closing

We wouldn’t have to adjust to E-Learning if schools have to close again. We would carry on as before, no uncertainties. (I find myself saying that sarcastically…no uncertainties haha)

Cons

  • My Mental Health

I’ve been pretty open about my struggles with anxiety and depression. Lately, I have found it hard to complete everyday tasks and overcome my desire to lay in bed all day. So, this could break me.

  • My Ability and Patience

This is intertwined with the last bullet. Because of my lack of motivation, will I be able to fully commit to PATIENTLY teach them and follow a routine?

  • Lack of Time With Friends

As I said earlier, my oldest greatly relies on her friendships. Will they fade and grow apart while she is away from school? Will she have to start over making new friends? This shouldn’t be a big deal, but for some reason I struggle with this.

  • T.V. Temptation

While I’m not incredibly concerned about this, we love our shows. My 1st grader can drown out the world when in front of the T.V. I hope I would have the willpower to only allow T.V. after school is done.

I know I am not alone in this struggle. There are so many great things about both choices making this decision a particularly tough one. This time/season is especially hard. As a mom, I can’t make a decision like this without really thinking about each choice thoroughly. I know that there are many parents out there who don’t have a choice. Many still have to work and some just know for sure they can’t do it. I’m blessed to have the opportunity to choose. Ultimately, God has His hand on us and will guide us in what He wants for our family. I pray I will attentively listen to His voice.

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