Summer is so close and as South Florida parents skid toward the finish line of 2020 homeschooling, some are still struggling and questioning their success.
“It’s definitely challenging,” said Camille Brightman, a single mother to 12-year-old Estefano and 14-year-old Grace. “They’re in two different schools with two different regiments.”
They also have two different start times.
“Gracie has zoom classes that she has to be on at eight o’clock every morning,” Brightman explained. “Estefano’s school is a little more lenient. They just give the assignments on Monday that are due by Friday.”
Brightman knew things weren’t working out when she ended up calling in sick from her nursing job just to make sure her daughter made the 8 a.m. start time.
“When I was at work, she’d be asleep. I’d be calling," she said. "Neither child would answer their phone and she wouldn’t make her classes.”
That’s when Brightman made a major decision.
“I’ve had to change my work schedule to work weekends, to be home, to make sure they go to school," she said.
Family therapist Monica Snyder says if you are able to tailor your child’s schedule to her sleep habits, that could solve some motivational problems. Snyder, a clinical director for Wellspring Counseling, has learned some lessons homeschooling her own twin daughters.
“For my kids, it’s really important that I’ve recognized that they work so much better in the morning,” said Snyder. “So we really try to get all of our schooling done between 7 and 9 or 9:30.”
Afternoon assignments were just not working out in her household.
“When I try to do their school later in the day, they are not having it,” she said. “They are tired, they’ve been playing, so they just don’t do as good of a job.”
But Snyder notes other kids may be the opposite.
“Other kids may not be morning kids,” she said. Snyder recommends letting them sleep in, if their school schedule allows. “You get your own work - whether it’s household chores or just your actual job - done as much as you can. Later in the day they do their homework because they’re more evening or night people.”
Then there’s the question that nags Brightman and many other parents: is homeschooling really working?
“I don’t know honestly whether they’re learning, or they’re just doing their assignments,” Brightman admitted.
But one homeschool veteran points out parents like Brightman deserve more credit.
“Learning is happening all the time,” said Jacqui Brown, homeschool director for Classical Conversations Killian. “They are learning.” Learning just looks different now.“They’re sponges,” said Brown, “soaking in what’s going on around them.”
Brown’s recommendation: take short breaks, be flexible, find a subject that interests your child, and find out everything you can about it. “Google is your friend!”
“Just take a deep breath, relax and rest, and remember that... really the most important thing you can be doing right now is building those relationships with your kids and loving on them,” said Brown. “They will learn and they will grow.“