Above: Photo by Rebecca Johnson
The pandemic has turned parents into teachers. Here’s how they feel about it.
“If there is a way to teach 4th grade fractions without a lot of crying, I don’t know what it is.”
With more parents working from home and taking on the additional role of teacher than ever before, family life for a lot of folks has gotten a little stressful. Of course there are parents, particularly those who regularly homeschool their children, who are relishing this time with their kids. But just who’s doing the relishing, who’s stressed, and what are some of the things parents are learning about themselves and their pupils? Lifestyle wanted to know, so we asked, and dozens of you responded. Thank you! We received responses from all over the area, from parents with children ranging in age from preschool to seniors in high school, and from parents whose children attend public schools, private schools, and those who already homeschool.
To all who participated, our sincere thanks. We learned a lot from your responses and were blown away by your resilience.
Do you have reliable high speed internet?
While everyone who participated said yes, there are some locations in our area without internet access.
Our internet is via our cell phone and it is so-so. We use all of our gigabytes to homeschool. Terri, Catlett
We do, but students without internet service are being denied access to education. Jeff, Warrenton
How do you feel about taking over your child’s education? Confident? Frustrated?
We had various responses to this, some positive, some not so much.
I know full well that I am not properly educated to be a teacher. But I am doing the best I can. I am exhausted. Terri, Catlett
Very confident! With the school’s help they have provided a lot of resources and even a daily learning plan for one child. So while time intensive, it’s been great! Grace, Warrenton
A little overwhelmed but I’m managing. Heather, Haymarket
Extremely frustrated. The younger two are fairly simple and easy but my older has learning disabilities and it just turns into a meltdown when we try to do school work. Lynette, Warrenton
I was frustrated but now that my kids have a daily set schedule through their new program and set assignments, I’m feeling better about it and more confident. Rebecca, Warrenton
We are not even attempting to take over our childrden’s education. The teachers are still very active and we are just the support system put into place. Nicole, Gainesville
Since they are in high school, they don’t need much help staying on track because their teachers send them weekly emails detailing what is due. I am frustrated that they made the fourth quarter optional though. I feel the kids who have the resources could be doing more. Kathleen, Haymarket
Very confident! I already homeschool my kids and love knowing that they are secure in a new concept before moving on. When a child doesn’t understand something and is forced to move on to a harder concept, they become frustrated and even begin to hate the subject. Tiffany, Haymarket
I could probably handle working and teaching. What is wearing me down is all the other roles that come with it: cafeteria worker, janitor, recess monitor, art/music/gym teacher, guidance counselor, IT support, school nurse, disciplinarian, librarian, plus procurement, finance, HR, and supervisor. School is much more than four subjects. And doing all of those roles daily while working is exhausting. Laine, Warrenton
How much time do you spend on education every day? Do you think this is a more or less efficient way for children to learn than traditional schooling?
Answers range from an hour or less to 4-6 hours, mostly correlating to the ages of the children.
I feel like it’s maybe more efficient but for us definitely more haphazard/not as thorough. Heather, Haymarket
I don’t think the question should be about efficiency of learning as much as how important the social aspect of school is for children. Learning is about so much more than textbooks and tests; it’s about all of the social learning too. Jenna, Warrenton
It could definitely be more efficient in the long run, however my kids love traditional school and there are other things they get out of it besides reading, writing, and arithmetic. Lauren, Warrenton
This is a way less efficient way for my child to learn. Jennie, Fauquier County
Absolutely less efficient because she’s getting much less education, attention, and assistance. And definitely less growth and stimulation. Laine, Warrenton
On a given day, the kids are working between 1-4 hours. In some ways, they definitely can focus better on projects. We all prefer the traditional classroom with online support. Nicole, Gainesville
4-6 hours. I feel sorry for this quarantine learning. It’s difficult for the kids, parents, and teachers. It’s not true homeschooling. Tiffany, Haymarket
I like traditional schooling. I feel the children learn so much more socially and have so many opportunities (sports, music, clubs, etc) by going to a traditional school. Kathleen, Haymarket
Are you learning anything about your children and/or their learning styles that you otherwise might not have found out?
Not learning so much about my children; I’m usually very involved. But I’m learning a lot about their teachers! Some good, others bad, but I have more insight into how teachers and students interact, and how the teachers teach. Grace, Warrenton
He’s a bit of a goofball in class, but he’s on top of his work. I’ve also learned that just because he’s not making eye contact it doesn’t mean he’s not learning or listening. Jenna, Warrenton
Not really. Just reaffirming what I knew…that they are internally motivated to learn and do well. Anne, Fauquier County
I knew about her need for structure and minimal distraction. And home is just full of distractions! Laine, Warrenton
Has this changed your relationship with your children? How?
Schooling at home? No. Stay-at-home order? Yes. Anne, Fauquier County
We do more things together and we engage with each other more through bike rides and pickleball, nature hikes, etc., things we wouldn’t have had time for before. Grace, Warrenton
I think overall it’s made us closer because my son now shares my home office so we’re in there working together at least in the morning hours. Which is not to say we haven’t butted heads when he doesn’t want advice from, as he calls me, “Dr. Teacher Mommy.” Jenna, Warrenton
Do your children like homeschooling, or would they rather be back in the traditional school setting?
I think they need a traditional school setting but I am also enjoying them being around more and more flexibility in our day with them at home. Grace, Warrenton
Mine would rather be back at school. He really misses his classmates and the whole community. Jenna, Warrenton
My kids would be thrilled to go back to school tomorrow and with joy! Kathleen, Haymarket
They are missing school. But I think the idea of a staggered schedule is very appealing to them both. Nicole, Gainesville
I definitely think my son would rather be in school. Heather, Haymarket
Students with special needs are being denied access to education and are completely left behind with distance learning. There’s no way to teach behavior management skills via video chat or email. Jennie, Fauquier County
How has this changed your perception of teachers and the traditional classroom school setting?
Gosh, I applaud them, I appreciate them. I do not ever want to have their job again. They are heroes when it comes to educating our kids and grandkids. Terri, Catlett
It is outdated and in this district they are unable to meet the needs of every child. The lack of support staff and highly trained professionals is worrisome. Jeff, Warrenton
Teachers are saints. There were days where I was completely lost. Rebecca, Warrenton
I always valued them and will continue to! Laine, Warrenton
Teachers and educators at home or in the traditional school sense are amazing! I highly respect them and all they do for our children. I would not want my children to continue full time virtual learning. Kathleen, Haymarket
My perception? They needed raises before and they sure as heck need them now! I personally received an email at 12:10 am one day and another day, when our email wasn’t working, a teacher called the house to speak with myself and my child. Above and beyond. They want to help. They want to keep the learning going. When you have educators who love teaching, empowering and developing young adults, the current situation is not ideal. My heart goes out to them. Nicole, Gainesville
I hope the lessons we are learning will help parents advocate for a better public school system here in our community. Jeff, Warrenton
Has this experience made you think of continuing to homeschool after the schools open again?
Some mixed feelings here.
My kids would hate me teaching them full-time. Grace, Warrenton
Yes, I have considered it, but my husband is not in favor of us homeschooling. I’m a stay at home mom but I don’t feel like I have the discipline to thoroughly school them at the moment. Heather, Haymarket
NO. (Just like that, all caps.) Jeff, Warrenton
I wish I could but I’m a single parent with six kids. Rebecca, Warrenton
Not in a million years. Laine, Warrenton
It’s a tough job but I think kids respond better to other adults than they do to their parents. I am ready for the schools to reopen. Lynette, Warrenton
I have never cared for the overhead of traditional classrooms. I would continue homeschooling my 9th grader if she could still try out for the sports and afterschool activities. Anne, Fauquier County
My children would not want to be homeschooled. They love the social aspect of school and the opportunities that exist for them. Kathleen, Haymarket
My kids love being homeschooled. When their school work is done by noon and their chores by two o’clock, they’re free to play and be children who can explore the world around them. Tiffany, Haymarket
NO THANK YOU! I know it works for some. But it’s not for us. I wouldn’t mind a staggered schedule with online support but that’s it. Our kids enjoy the social aspect and classroom learning. Nicole, Gainesville
As an experienced homeschooler, I feel sorry about this quarantine learning. It’s difficult for the kids, parents, and teachers. This is not true homeschooling. Tiffany, Haymarket