As a result of COVID-19, many families are confronted with new and difficult decisions in educating their children. Decisions many never imagined they'd need to make. A decision implies a choice, right? It's important to remember that you've always had a choice. Keeping your kids in the traditional public school classroom has always been a choice, perhaps you'd never thought of it that way, but it has always been.
You could keep your kids enrolled in your local public school, of course. Perhaps you're not satisfied with mask requirements and lack of freedoms to move about and interact the way kids naturally interact? Maybe your local public school has transitioned into a new, complex and inflexible distance learning model requiring both teachers and parents to wear many more hats than they normally wear in ways that are entirely new to them.
Online public charter schools are an option to consider. Many wonder about socialization and isolation. Have you explored the options you have to mitigate that and keep the kids active and engaged? As more families choose to move to a formalized online school choice, these issues may further resolve in that there's more kids seeking alternative socialization opportunities outside of the traditional school environment. Although done at home, it's important to remember that online school is still school. There are teachers, structured curriculum, and expectations to fulfill the school requirements. This option, similar to traditional homeschool, can offer a balance for parents between the time and attention required in planning and costs of curriculum as well as the benefits of being integral to the child's growth. It also offers a lot of flexibility in time and attention to focus on the child's special interest.
Certainly there's private school education to consider, although these can be costly and out of reach for many families. Have you looked into the private school options in your local area and what they cost per year? Low classroom ratios and high quality education are valuable if you find an option that works for your family. If you have a child on an IEP, this may present a challenge depending on the school's special education capacity. You may even find a private school option that focus specifically on special education.
Of course, you could always choose the traditional homeschool route. State requirements vary on what is needed for this choice but it tends to be quite easy as the homeschool path has grown in acceptance. There's a whole range of choices with the homeschool path itself. Unschooling focuses on learning through everyday experiences as opposed to a specific curriculum. There are many choices to make in terms of curriculum and materials you want to supplement with in your homeschooling plan. This choice requires much more attention and intention on the part of parents and availability may be a challenge for families with working parents. If you're able to make it work though, there's a lot of value in fully participating in your children's education and growing their own dynamic interests.
The truth is that all of these choices are viable options. Perhaps COVID-19 precipitated the increased awareness and need to make an education choice. Whatever choice you go with, it should work for your family. The new normal seems to be that there isn't a one-size fits all education format and you don't have to settle for one that no longer works for you and your kids. More important than anything, find a way to educate your kids in a way that they enjoy so they can develop a lifetime love of learning.