My youngest son is scheduled to begin kindergarten this year. Before the outbreak of COVID-19, we talked a lot about his new school and how exciting it will be to join his big brother. Now I’m not so sure if he will start there.
This was going to be the year of big changes. The end of preschool and the start of his elementary school adventure.
I would send the kids off to the same school for the very first time and start a new job. Then this nasty virus took over the planet and everything changed.
The Kindergarten Decision
Now I sit here trying to decide what to do about school. I’ve read tons of statistics on kids contracting the virus without showing symptoms.
I know that most kids do not get ill or die from the disease, but I am still incredibly nervous about it.
I also wonder about the quality of school given COVID-19 conditions. Can my five year old wear a mask all day?
What kind of experience will he have sitting in a desk six feet away from other kids? Isn’t kindergarten supposed to be about socialization? How much will he be able to socialize?
Other questions swirl around in my brain too. Is limited socialization worth the risk of getting sick? Is this the way I want to introduce him to elementary school?
What if COVID numbers increase? Will the kids return to remote learning? Is there value in remote learning for a five-year-old?
Does it make sense to send my older son to school, but leave my little one home with me? My youngest was going to join his big brother at school. Is it strange to tell him he’ll stay at home now?
Of course, my oldest could still contract the virus and pass it on to the rest of us. Although he’s older and better able to keep his mask on that doesn’t mean he won’t get sick.
Would it be worthwhile for him to attend remote learning sessions to ensure he stays away from the virus? How will he feel if his friends go to school, but he stays home?
The decision doesn’t just impact my children. I am concerned about my health. I suffered through a series of pulmonary embolisms a decade ago.
It’s not clear what permanent damage occurred as a result of those blood clots. Ever since that incident I’ve been prone to fits of coughing every time I get ill.
What if the children pick up COVID-19 and pass it on to me? My youngest loves to grab my cheeks in his hands and pull me in for a kiss. He is still my best little snuggler.
Remote Learning, Homeschool or an in Classroom Experience
I’m not sure how or if our school system will choose to open. Fairfax Virginia, a county pretty close to us, is providing two options to students.
- Full-time online instruction where students will take part in virtual, face to face instruction four days a week.
- Two full days of instruction in school each week with independent study on the other two days.
I don’t love either of those two options, but I have a feeling our school will offer something similar.
I am considering pulling the kids out of school this year to homeschool them. I’m not the only one. I’ve met a couple of other families who are considering the same option.
This year I planned to return to the working world after an eight-year hiatus. I started looking for jobs in February, but recently paused my search.
Even if the kids go to school it seems unlikely that they will attend five days a week. If they attend five days a week it seems unlikely that they will attend all day.
We are living in uncertain times and I just don’t know what school will look like this year. Can I get a new job and help my children manage school work?
Thankfully I don’t need a job to pay our bills. I can remain a stay-at-home mom for another year to help the kids get through school.
I recognize that privilege. Plenty of families are struggling with much larger problems than mine.
I hate making decisions and I’m not a big fan of change. Both are extremely difficult for me. One minute I make a decision on how to proceed and the next minute I switch to the opposite point of view.
I’ve polled friends, neighbors and other bloggers. Each have provided valuable input and advice.
Many tell me to follow my heart, but I’m not sure what my heart is telling me. There are so many reasons to choose one option over another.
We live outside of the Washington, DC area. Right now our numbers are looking much better than they did earlier in the year. They are consistently dropping, but will they continue to move in the right direction?
What happens if the numbers rise again? Will we spend the year bouncing back and forth between being in school and remote learning. Is it better to just yank both kids out of school this year and homeschool them?
Forty-six percent of parents in our county said they’d prefer to continue at-home instruction when school starts. We’ve had the highest number of cases in the state. (18,645 and 622 confirmed deaths.)
Paying for School
The kids are currently enrolled in a pricey private school, which adds to the complexity. Supplementing a free, remote learning program might make sense for those enrolled in public school.
Paying for a remote learning experience seems to make a little less sense in our situation. I feel guilty for leaving during a pandemic, but I know the school can fill our slots if we choose to leave. They won’t suffer financially with our absence.
Homeschool Versus Remote Learning
Why homeschool at all you might ask? What’s wrong with remote learning?
Remote learning felt like a lot of busy work. We had to schedule our days around various Google Meets, which didn’t always feel particularly necessary or helpful.
My oldest son performs above grade level in most subjects so he didn’t need the lessons and didn’t seem to gain any knowledge as a result of them.
I think we could create a better curriculum at home and possibly provide advance coursework.
My youngest didn’t like his preschool Google Meets at all. He asked us not to call into them after the first two.
In terms of academics I’m pretty sure we could provide a better curriculum at home and perform the work in a fraction of the time. We don’t have to wait until 2 o’clock to join a call and we don’t have to risk getting sick if the kids go in person.
But for some reason I’m having a terribly hard time making this decision. I guess I fear my oldest will miss out on seeing his friends in school or even seeing their cute little faces online.
Then I worry that my youngest will miss out on the first year of elementary school that we promised.
Is anyone else in a similar predicament? Are you struggling with the decision on how to move forward with this school year? What are your thoughts and what are you leaning towards doing? What would you do if you were in my shoes?
*Note: This is just a plan for this year. When COVID-19 is under control they would return to school. Hopefully, the following year.