Distance Learning vs. Homeschooling: Making the Choice

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How do I decide between distance learning with the school and homeschooling ourselves?

Great question, and one that so many parents have right now! I’m answering from the perspective of a mom who has decided I will not be sending my kids in person and am currently debating between taking the school’s distance learning plan and homeschooling. I have elementary school-aged kids (1st and 3rd graders) so this is specific to that age group. For me, there are pro’s to each approach.

Distance Learning Pros:

There will be less prep work/expense for me; I will not have to research, purchase, and implement the curriculum. The kids will be accessing the same curriculum that their peers are being taught and I will not have to worry that when they go back to school eventually they will have missed out because we choose different topics. They will continue to have a connection to their town peers and school community. I will have some “breaks” when they are receiving direct instruction to take care of the other kids I have at home/get some of my own work done.

Homeschooling Pros:

Despite what I just said about the allure of breaks, I have concerns about the amount of time they will have to be on the computer if they are doing distance learning, with two active children who thrive on movement this will be a major factor in my decision. At their age, I cannot wrap my head around them sitting still in front of a computer for a large amount of time each day. If I am going to have to oversee my kids learning anyway, homeschooling will allow me to better respond directly to their needs, see where they are struggling, give them breaks when they need it. The idea of having some input into the curriculum and the idea of re-learning alongside them so we can have more robust discussions about what they are learning both appeal to me. With homeschooling, if I find a topic my kids are extremely interested in we will have the freedom to spend extra time focusing on that and letting them dive deeply into their interests and the flexibility to juggle other things around accordingly. I will have a greater ability to individualize the learning to meet my own children’s needs.
In the end, what I want the most is for my children to view learning as something exciting and valuable. Because of my current circumstances (hello new baby due at the start of the school year), I suspect I’ll begin the district provided distance learning, but I plan to be ready to pivot to homeschooling if I feel it is not serving my kids needs.
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Tracy was born and raised in Southeastern Massachusetts and currently resides about 15 minutes outside of Providence with her husband and their three children, Max (2012), Ryder (2014), and Lily (2017). As a mother, she has dabbled in various parenting philosophies, and after attempting everything from free range to helicopter, she's landed squarely in the camp of "I'll do whatever it takes to make the noise stop." In all seriousness, Tracy believes that the key to happily surviving parenthood is grace. Whenever possible it should be given generously to our children, our spouses, and especially ourselves. Tracy has spent her career working with mothers and children in various capacities. She has a private therapy practice, is an Infant Massage Instructor, and works in Early Intervention. She has learned that one of things that children need most is well supported parents, and she believes that the candid sharing of stories and experiences is an important way of supporting parents. When she's not at work, Tracy spends her days trying to get outside, writing, and searching for her patience at the bottom of a (reheated) cup of coffee. She is an avid runner, and she loves to cook, obsessively organize, and drink wine.