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Are you worried about next Fall?
Keeping your children safe?
Making sure they are still learning?
Making time to aid their learning even though you have a full-time job and you never signed up to be a teacher!
I’ve been hearing from so many parents that are worried about the upcoming school year.
Today, we’re discussing 3 alternatives to brick and mortar school.
And second, I want to make sure you know about my brand new website for The Learning Corner. You can now find me at services.tutorintinseltown.com/tlc. In episode 10, I discuss why I felt that this website was an important next step to take. I also discuss how it will benefit you, and hopefully make your life much easier!
This podcast is available to anyone with an internet connection. Therefore, as you might imagine, the Learning Corner has listeners from all over the world. We’ve had listeners join us from all across the US, Germany, and even Sri Lanka. And while I feel incredibly lucky and grateful to be able to reach and help so many listeners and their families, that also means that not everything I say will apply to every single listener. After all, some countries and regions of the world have very unique educational systems and resources.
Now, I don’t want to scare you away! I will usually discuss more universal learning strategies. However, with so many countries still under some form of social distancing or quarantine, I felt it important to discuss what some options might be for the coming school year. I have done the bulk of my teaching and tutoring in the US, that’s actually where I’m from, even though I currently find myself in Jamaica. So that’s where the bulk of my experience comes from, in terms of academic structures. Though I absolutely don’t mean to suggest that these are the only 3 options.
Now today’s episode is on 3 alternatives to brick and mortar school.
Let’s get started, shall we?
Now, most students, at least in the US, attend a brick and mortar school. The term brick and mortar, as it relates to school means that there is an actual schoolhouse where children go during the day to be taught be teachers. These may be public schools funded by the government, private schools funded by student’s tuition as well as donations, and charter schools, which receive government funding but operate independently of the established state school system of the area.
But the reason for today’s episode is that so many parents are concerned about schools reopening while COVID is still a threat. They are looking for alternatives to brick and mortar school. Maybe you’re one of them. I certainly don’t blame you! Children are not very risk-averse, mainly because they are still so early in their development. You can send them off with all the masks, hand sanitizers, and reminders to keep 6 feet of separation. But the moment the see a friend, borrow a pencil, or hit the playground, all of it will be forgotten. Not to mention that teachers are already stretched thin as it is, without having to worry about COVID19 contamination.
So what can you do when you are having second thoughts about sending your children back to school?
Your first step is to relax. Taking them out of a brick and mortar school does not necessarily mean they will have a poor education, or a poor life, or poor socialization. On the contrary, many of the brilliant minds of our civilizations had private at-home tutors and did not attend a brick and mortar school. It simply takes more effort on behalf of the parent to ensure they are focusing and making their learning a priority.
So your first option is: Virtual School
Of course, depending on where you’re from, this may not be an option for you. It’s not even an option in all 50 states. Personally, I have experience with the Virtual School systems of both Florida and California. I worked as a full-time in-home tutor for students in both of these systems and I have to say, if virtual school is available to you, it’s definitely worth considering.
Some of the pros to attending these virtual schools are that by remaining within the state school system:
- you as a parent are not responsible for creating their curriculum,
- if your child is self-directed, they won’t need too much of your attention if you are also working from home.
- you ensure that they remain on-level with their peers and that their education is fairly well-rounded and standardized. This is important if they plan on attending college, since not all universities are as open-minded about homeschooling
- they are still held accountable to a teacher with a syllabus and set deadlines, which will help them retain a sense of time management and accountability to someone in a role besides that of their parent.
- and of course, in keeping with the times at which this episode is being published, your main pro is that they will be home and less exposed to COVID-19.
Some of the cons of virtual school are:
- the significantly inflated screen-times. Now, you may be a parent who loathes screen time, or you may be 100% on board. Personally, I love using technology for teaching for many reasons, but that’s a topic for another day. I’m not here to judge in either direction, I simply bring it up because it is a concern for some parents. And of course, significant screen time can cause headaches and trouble sleeping for many people (myself included) so if you do go this route, consider investing in some blue-light glasses to protect your baby’s vision.
- the potential for reduced socialization. To be fair, by virtue of today’s topic, this will be a con for all of them. In school, children learn not only how to socialize with their peers, but also authority figures, bullies, friends, and children of their same and opposite gender. They are exposed to social routines and structures. They may be exposed to children with unique tastes, disabilities, or of different nationalities that they might otherwise not be exposed to if they are spending the majority of their time at home. That’s not to say that it’s impossible for them to be exposed to such things. Millions of families homeschool successfully and do an amazing job of socializing their children. Again, this is just a con that I have seen from my own experiences. And it is something that you, as their parent, would have to make a priority.
Your second option as an alternative to a brick-and-mortar school is: Home School
The pros of homeschool are:
- You as the parent set your own curriculum. Even though this may be a con to many, this is considered a pro by families who want to incorporate religious teachings into their child’s education. This is not something you are able to do in the US if your child is in a school system that receives state funding.
- You are able to mold the learning around your child’s strengths and weaknesses. Maybe they are several grade levels ahead in math but struggle in reading. If you choose to homeschool, this is something you can take into account better than a teacher could if she has 30 other students she has to teach.
The cons of homeschool are:
- You have to set your own curriculum! I know, I know, I listed it as both a pro and a con. That’s because it is. Depending on how much of their education you outsource and how much you are able to spend on online programs and outside resources to support their learning, you will be in charge of developing their curriculum. And if you’re anything like me, you’ll likely want your child to receive a well-rounded education. You’ll need a lot of history, math, social studies, sciences, reading. The arts, of course, and physical education. Without the government structure of virtual school, developing or purchasing these curricula will fall on your shoulders.
- And as with virtual school, you will have to make socialization a priority in their education, beyond the actual academics.
The last of your alternatives to a brick and mortar school is unschooling.
Also known as autonomous, child-led or delight-directed learning, unschooling is an informal learning strategy that advocates for learner-chosen activities as a primary means for learning. Basically, it means that learning is led by the student. As you might gather, this is on the complete opposite end of the spectrum when it comes to how structured your child’s learning and academic routine can be.
Unschooling is based on the idea that children are naturally curious and inquisitive about their surroundings and everything in life. So by allowing them to pursue their curiosities, you are allowing them to learn in the way that is most natural to their development. As with all these options, we have pros and cons.
Pros of unschooling
The pros to unschooling are primarily that learning will remain fun and stress-free for your child. Anyone that I have ever worked with can tell you that I am a huge advocate for both of these ideals. The entire first stage of my Academic Success Path that I provide for clients is focused on instilling a love of learning in children. Learning occurs in school, but it most certainly should not be limited to the structures and routines of school. Learning is a lifelong journey, and by allowing children to guide their own learning, they can develop their own interests and skills.
Cons of unschooling
However, unschooling can have significant drawbacks. The main drawback is that if you follow a 100% student-led learning method, you may struggle to develop well-rounded children. Had I been unschooled, I would have spent all my time painting and reading fiction, and not a single minute on history. My brother likely would not know how to do basic math. He is most certainly intelligent, he just never had an interest in math.
Another drawback to unschooling is that children learn most of their time management, routine, and self-management from following schedules and school routines. If they later decide to attend college, they may have a difficult time adjusting to a set syllabus and order. Not to mention that a university might have a difficult time understanding the scope of your child’s education and may, therefore, deny their application.
Woah, that was a long one!
So there you have it. 3 alternatives to brick and mortar school.
Virtual school, homeschooling, and unschooling.
I’m curious, would you consider any of these for your child for this coming fall?
I’d love to hear your thoughts over on The Learning Corner’s new website! Again, that’s services.tutorintinseltown.com/tlc
And if you do want to pursue one of these options, I have something amazing coming down the pipleline for you in the next couple of weeks! I can’t give any details about it just yet but I promise you it’s going to be incredible for you, your child, and their education.
I am certain that if you implement the lessons I teach here on The Learning Corner, you will start to see significant changes in your child’s motivation and their behavior towards school and learning. But if you’re still struggling with your child and would like some individualized support, I highly encourage you to book a free 1:1 Academic Success Call with me right on the TLC website.
In this call, we can talk more specifically about your child, your family’s needs, and my best advice on how to proceed in order to set your child up to have the absolute best chance at a lifetime of success, happiness, and financial stability.
Thank you for spending time with me today, till next time!