As of this morning, nearly one million Massachusetts children found themselves effectively ‘homeschoolers.’ Governor Baker’s order closing all public and private K-12 schools from now until April 7th will hopefully help stop the spread of Covid-19, but it is also requiring a major adjustment for hundreds of thousands of parents and children in our Commonwealth.
My wife and I have been homeschooling for almost seven years with our four children, but it was a decision we made after months of talking, researching and praying. For so many families right now, it is something that has been thrust upon them almost without warning. I’m hearing from parents in various school districts that they have so far received little to no guidance from their children’s schools. My wife spent the morning texting with friends and neighbors whose kids are home today, sharing advice and some of our textbooks.
For all the parents scrambling to adjust to the next three weeks or more, I want to throw out a lifeline. Her name is Mary Ellen. She’s the newest addition to the MFI team and comes with extensive experience as a homeschool mom (her oldest is now a freshman in college). She’s also been the driving force behind our recent deep-dive into the sex-ed curricula being promoted in our public schools. However, I’ve asked her to make a hard pivot for now and put together a list of the best free resources available to help MA families start successfully navigating through this sudden time of forced home-based education. Take a look at what Mary Ellen is recommending below and feel free to reach out to her directly with questions. You can keep your child’s education going while schools are closed.
- Blogs written by homeschooling mothers not only provide useful resources like suggested books, websites, printable worksheets and activities, but they also offer practical tips for organizing the day and inspiration for weary parents. Check out Simple Homeschool, Hip Homeschool Moms, and Practical, by Default (this blog is specifically for working moms). These mom bloggers all include encouraging articles for parents having to adjust to life as temporary homeschoolers because of the Covid-19 pandemic.
- Home School Legal Defense Association, a nonprofit ministry founded to defend and advance parental rights and the freedom to direct their child’s education, has a wealth of information and links for both new and veteran homeschoolers, including help for struggling learners, advice for teaching every grade, and preparing kids for college.
- Kahn Academy is an online platform that provides free, high quality educational videos that allow students to work at their own pace. Their lessons cover K-12 math through early college, grammar, history, and more.
- Prager University makes exceptional short videos that promote Judeo-Christian values and critical thinking on current issues. The educational content in their videos is ideal for middle and high school students who are learning to navigate the world of ideas, by helping students identify key issues and learn about trending news stories.
- Online homeschool communities like Homeschool Compass and Teach Them Diligently include grade specific tools and resources for parents, ranging from how to teach math and language arts, to topics like how to manage your time to meet all the demands of home and family.
- MassHOPE is a state-wide organization that supports and assists Massachusetts homeschool families. They host an annual convention with dynamic speakers and a vendor hall where parent educators can purchase curriculum. Their website also lists affiliated groups all over the state where homeschooling families can find community and ongoing support.
Whether your current “homeschooling” efforts are just temporary until life goes back to normal and schools reopen or if you are rethinking the educational choices for your family, rest assured, you are and always have been your children’s primary teacher and you are uniquely qualified for the job. I hope the resources shared above will help you plan happy, meaningful, and educationally rich experiences for your children in the coming weeks.