Culture

Homeschooling During Coronavirus? Here Are Resources for Parents Left in the Lurch

Coronavirus Homeschooling screenshot.

Due to the coronavirus crisis, schools across the country have been closed for three weeks, and many have left parents in the lurch. The Texas Homeschool Coalition launched a website to help parents who find themselves becoming “accidental homeschoolers” at CoronavirusHomeschooling.com.

“Our plan is to meet the needs of these accidental homeschoolers. The Texas Homeschool Coalition has put together this website because they’ve been at this for decades. I’ve been at this for ten years,” Sam Sorbo, an actress, radio host, mother, and homeschool advocate, told PJ Media in an interview on Monday.

CoronavirusHomsechooling.com provides daily lessons for kids in Kindergarten through fifth grade, with plans to include curriculum for older kids, as well.

“I encourage parents, ‘Take the reins. The schools have now ceded their authority to you,'” Sorbo said. “We’re in this interesting situation where the government is telling us, ‘You need to home educate.’ So many schools are not sending out materials.”

Sorbo noted that schools across the country have been closed for three weeks, and they still haven’t sent out a curriculum for the parents to keep teaching their children. “So many schools have sent them no schooling materials whatsoever.”

“Give them a week. Okay, fine. Why didn’t I have the materials last week?” the mother demanded. Rather than providing curricula, teachers have sent out videos assuring kids that they miss them. “They say they’re hoping the kids stay safe but not saying a peep about education. How about ‘Don’t forget to read your books this week!’ or ‘Don’t forget to keep up on your math facts!’ These are the ‘educators.'”

Sorbo insisted that parents already have what it takes to homeschool their children, they just need the right resources.

“What strikes me as egregious is the idea that parents don’t know what to do,” she said. “We’re here to reassure them — you still know enough to teach K-5 and sixth grade. You don’t have to solve everything today. It’s less difficult than you think and it’s better than you could ever dream, frankly.”

Sorbo noted that CoronavirusHomeschooling.com sends emails to parents every day, providing them with the lessons their children need. The website also offers a community for parents to learn from others like Sorbo herself, who have been homeschooling for years.

The mother insisted that parents have been indoctrinated to think that they don’t have what it takes to teach their children. “It took me more than three years to wrap my head around just how brainwashed I had been,” she recalled. “I felt incompetent just because I was taught I was incompetent.”

“We grow up thinking that’s what we have to do with our kids. You’ve been taught that it’s hard because that’s job security for the educators,” she said. She said she did not mean to minimize the hard work of educators, but she insisted that parents can teach their own children. Meanwhile, the education system has been failing children, with even top graduates needing remedial lessons in math at the college level.

Sorbo said parents often give two reasons for doubting their homeschooling ability: “I don’t know how” and “I lack the patience.”

Websites like CoronavirusHomeschooling.com provide the resources to help, and “everything that you ever wanted to learn, you can look up on YouTube now.” Parents who graduated high school or more should be able to teach their young children, Sorbo insisted. “How good is a high school education if you’re unable to impart knowledge to a third grader?”

As for patience, “maybe your children are supposed to teach you patience,” Sorbo suggested. “Patience is the ability to not get angry. Why are you angry at your children? Figure it out instead, love that child.”

The homeschooling mother insisted that parents often stress themselves too much about education. “Parents are thinking, ‘My child will be underserved and it’s going to be my fault that my child doesn’t get into Yale.’ You shouldn’t pile on your child like that,” she said.

Sorbo argued that school for younger children should take “less than 3 hours a day. It’s absolutely not a three-hour commitment for the adult. If you think that educating your children is a full-time job, you’re incorrect.”

She shared some of her own experiences. “I would get my fifth-grader started on his book; I’d get my third-grader started on the copy work for handwriting; I’d give the first-grader the grammar lesson,” the homeschooling mother recalled. “It’s not three hours for me, it’s maybe three hours for the child.”

Teaching children at home gives parents flexibility, Sorbo insisted. She suggested that if a child does well in a math lesson one day, perhaps the parent can skip the math lesson the next day and do something fun instead — be a “hero.”

Ultimately, the point of homeschooling — and much of parenting in general — is to “create an environment of learning for your kids,” setting them up for a lifetime of learning and growth.

“You’re more important than the school, so stop fretting that the less important component is no longer available,” Sorbo quipped.

Homeschooling is not easy, but it may be far easier than parents think it is. The coronavirus crisis may force them to give it a try — and they may end up liking it far more than they anticipated.

Tyler O’Neil is the author of Making Hate Pay: The Corruption of the Southern Poverty Law Center. Follow him on Twitter at @Tyler2ONeil.