By PATRICK MCNAMARA
The 2020-21 school year will be unlike anything we’ve seen before. To help your family understand your child’s schooling arrangements, here are some things to think about.
Considerations: A/B or AM/PM scheduling at schools can be difficult to accommodate, especially with multiple children of different ages at different schools.
Pros: Students will have a structured schedule, connection with peers, in-person instruction and a dedicated learning environment.
Cons: Maintaining social distance will be difficult, on the bus, in school and after school. Kids will be kids, regardless of what you tell them.
Considerations: As parents have discovered, having to manage online class schedules and online assignments can be exhausting. Making sure each of your children has access to a working computer and internet is required and not always easy.
Pros: They can feel better that their children are not potentially exposed to the virus at school. Some students actually prefer virtual schooling.
Cons: Students will miss the in-person instruction with teachers, social connection with peers and a dedicated learning environment. Many students do not thrive with online learning, especially those who already struggle in school.
Considerations: Switching back and forth between online and in-person school could be difficult, depending on parents’ work schedules and children’s school schedules and learning styles. Multiple kids complicate this further. Access to computer and internet concerns exists here too.
Pros: Students benefit from in-person instruction and peer connection, even if it’s limited. Their exposure to the virus will be more limited.
Cons: Students can risk bringing home the virus, students could be anxious going back and forth – learning in each environment requires different levels of focus and management and a lack of consistency will be challenging for some students.
Considerations: Having to create a new “normal” in your home can be tough, as will becoming your child’s sole teacher and balancing that role with being the parent. State law compliance becomes an issue, but there is an established homeschooling community to help you make sense of it all.
Pros: More time with your children controlling the environment and schedule, creating the school year’s pace based on your child’s learning speed, ability to personalize your child’s curriculum to his/her interests and strengths.
Cons: Having to get up to speed on local curriculum requirements quickly, having to teach your child the curriculum, balance teaching and your own work/responsibilities.
Micro-Schools or “Pods”
Considerations: A home-based learning solution for small groups (4-6 students) learning via online or homeschooling. The learning environment is a shared space at a participating family’s home, office or other location.
Pros: Sticking with the same small group minimizes virus exposure, while still allowing for social stimulation and providing some relief for parents.
Cons: Finding a teacher and determining the cost. Additionally, planning where the group will meet and putting in place the agreed-upon safety standards and procedures are very important pieces. The right teacher may need to teach students at different grade levels.
Over time, parents may find that their initial education choice just doesn’t work. Don’t be afraid to try something else. The virus is likely to be a part of our lives during the entire school year, so meeting the challenges of this year will be a marathon, not a sprint. Schools, teachers, parents and students will need to be flexible and adjust as they go. Remember that you’re not alone in your child’s academic journey. School administrators and teachers will be doing their best to meet their students’ needs, and there are also third party providers that are resources for you to consider. Don’t be afraid to ask for help!
Patrick McNamara is the owner and executive director at Sylvan Learning of Albany and Clifton Park. For more information, visit SylvanLearning.com.