Let me begin by clearly stating that I am 100% in support of all parents faced with this impossible decision this year. Whether you keep your children home, participate in an online version of their traditional school, or homeschool completely, no option is solely right or wrong. We are all living in a gray area during this crisis and we are all trying to make the best calls with little to no experience of the predicament we have found ourselves in.

My husband and I have made the choice to keep our kids home this academic year. They are a part of an online-based academy that isn’t part of our district, but we will also be supplementing with our own homeschool curriculum. Deciding this wasn’t easy at all and was met with particular resistance by my thirteen year old son who just wanted to see his friends every day. After a lot of thought and deliberation, I think I have figured out what I feel comfortable with and how to mesh it into a smorgasbord of acceptable for all involved in our home.

We didn’t want the chaos surrounding the virus to interrupt our kids’ focus on studies, let alone the struggle that the district is going through to switch to an online platform as opposed to traditional st‌yle. It made more sense for our kiddos to have a more relaxed and designed specifically-for-them option.

With the plan we have in place, they will wake up and have personal time as well as school time. They can scatter their classes throughout the day, or knock them all out at once. As long as the assignments are completed by the end of the day, the time is theirs to be responsible with. This also leaves plenty of time for friends. Provided they use their smarts and don’t risk their health or wellbeing, we allow them to come and go and visit with their friends in the neighborhood.

Thanks to that, we aren’t worried about the socialization factor. Another part we love about this choice is how tailored we can make it for each child. My youngest son thrives in math, while my oldest son and my daughter don’t. This lets us give the youngest the room to shoot forward in progress while still nurturing the other two at their pace. Not having to accomodate an entire class of children with different comprehension levels and needs makes for a shorter day and less frustration for ours.

The shorter paper work time allows them more opportunity to explore other interests as well. My daughter has begun learning Spanish in her free time, and my oldest is pursuing boxing as a physical education credit. Many districts also allow homeschooled students to participate in the extracurriculars offered in the schools. So, when basketball season comes, or if they peak a sudden interest in chess club or drama club, that door is open to them. The freedom to choose and flourish their way is amazing for their independence and responsibilty growth.

The last big reason we chose is something many people don’t realize. Colleges, Ivy and otherwise, scout homeschooled kids. They set a lot of value by the real world skills gained by most homeschool journeys. More often than not, homeschooled children are more comfortable interacting with people generations above their own. They also gain more practical knowledge and responsibility about things like money management and taxes. A lot of children also begin to take a larger part in homemaking whether that be sewing, gardening, construction, or even cooking. These wide skill sets make them especially alluring to colleges looking to enroll well rounded, full of potential young adults.

This choice is not without its own shortcomings. Those of us who choose this also have to remember the effort and time it takes to actually develop a routine where the kids can self start and be trusted to complete things themselves. We also have to understand that some of our days will inevitably be incredibly frustrating for both student and parent.

It takes real work to commit to homeschooling, even if it is online and not wholly on your shoulders. Beyond facing your own headaches, there will always be people who critque your decision. We are all in this whirlwind together and our only control is ourselves. What’s important to remember, whether you chose what I did or the opposite, naysayers are an inevitability. Stick close to your tribe of parents who support your choices because they know you are doing your best to make the right calls. Never let the peanut gallery win. You are doing awesome.