New School Year in the Pandemic Prism

Education at home can be a beautiful mess

August 23, 2020

Palm Beach County, Florida

Tomorrow our county, considered the 10th largest school district in the nation, will embark on its Covid-19 pandemic inspired educational journey for many parents/caregivers and children as they log into their e-learning platforms.  There are some who have prepared to take their students into the select private schools that are offering in-person instruction with smaller classes and new physical distancing measures.  My hope and prayer for all my fellow parents is that the teamwork between you, teachers, and your children be strong and inspired by the hope of a new school year with so many new things to be learned for everyone. 

My personal Bean homeschooling plan is to start my students fully in the first week of September as I have in the past. For the last couple of weeks and going forward, my mornings are busily spent with the children doing small lessons, reviews, and cleaning out our educational areas.  My bed has been the staging ground daily for organizing countless piles of papers and projects.  If you find that your home is a mess in preparation for your children’s first day of school at home, it will get better and yes it’s normal.  If, however, your home is completely spotless then I sincerely applaud you and would love some tips on how to do better in this area.

Approaching the Big Horn mountains from the west after leaving Yellowstone

My second podcast for CEO of the Home was recorded and released in late July and then I took off on a sabbatical by myself—it entailed me driving from Florida to Wyoming and back.  In my haste to pack up and leave the household in good hands, I forgot to post it online for anyone interested.  Simply put, it’s a small primer on how to approach a “multi-schooling” methodology should it be an option:

Episode 2: https://ceo-of-the-home.simplecast.com/episodes/how-to-multischool

My sabbatical was 2 weeks in duration and afforded me the chance to let my mind rest from the constant barrage of COVID-19 news coverage, contentious social media platforms, and our local frenetic pace of life here in south Florida.  I deleted all my social media apps and news alerts on my iPhone so that I wasn’t tempted to scroll through during the quiet moments that this trip gave me.

Yellowstone National Park has a great trail ride available at Canyon

Also, I needed to rekindle my own love of learning.  Wandering about in Wyoming gave me the opportunity to seek out new adventures like driving to a privately owned quarry outside Kemmerer and chiseling ancient rock for fish fossils.  Picking up my paintbrushes to paint while sitting at scenic points in Yellowstone National Park gave me a renewed inspiration for playing with colors on paper.  I’ve ridden horses but only through flat forests and swamps, mountain trail riding was a brand new experience for this flatlander.

Along with the silent hours I spent alone, I was able to think about what new things to weave into my children’s educational experiences moving forward.  I had the blessing of commiserating with other parents who were traveling in Wyoming—it turns out that challenges my fellow Floridian parents have with this pandemic education prism are the same for other parents nationwide.

Tonight I also recorded my third podcast and I touch upon why I took this long break.  What I didn’t address in it is that although I took this trip during a pandemic, I had weighed the risk and knew that my mental health was of utmost importance as I’m getting ready for another school year. 

With that, I share my latest episode of CEO of the Home, Sabbatical and the New School Year:

Episode 3: https://ceo-of-the-home.simplecast.com/episodes/sabbatical-and-new-school-year

I wish you all the best as our respective school years begin this month and next!

In service of Love,

R.V.S.Bean

Virtual Schooling: An Alternative to Both Homeschooling and Conventional Public or Private Schooling

Quick Note:  Apologies to my frequent readers, life has been a busy ride with many stops along the way in the past month that has rendered me paralyzed from writing more on this site–however, I hope to remedy that dry spell in the coming weeks–read on!

On Monday, October 18, 2010, our local newspaper The Palm Beach Post ran a front page article by Kevin D. Thompson entitled “In A Class By Themselves” that could be easily missed by most of us harried parents (especially those in stewardship of children 4 years and younger).   Even if you don’t have time to read my blog, please look at the link of this article if you are still mulling over what your options are for the education of your child.  You should be able to pull the link here: http://www.palmbeachpost.com/news/schools/palm-beach-county-students-benefit-from-virtual-classroom-977282.html?cxtype=rss_news or you may also search on their website: www.palmbeachpost.com

I don’t know where I’ve been in the past several years but after reading this article I found out that it’s been a growing phenomenon to have students from pre-kindergarten age through 12th grade attending some type of school online.  The article cites research data from groups like Ambient Insight and the International Association for K-12 Online Learning who “reports that the number of students taking classes online is growing 30 percent annually.”

Evidently in our own Palm Beach County here in South Florida, we have almost 300 students currently enrolled in the 2010-11 school year and I’m truly excited to hear that there are actually three virtual schools available to our students in this county.  The major difference between a student in virtual school or being home-schooled is that with virtual schooling the student  takes classes online and their parents supervise and encourage while there are state-certified teachers who communicate with the student “regularly through e-mail, voice mail, phone conversations, virtual meeting sites and instant messages to complete the course work.”

It is so refreshing to find out that there is another option for parents who are seeking an alternative to sending their kids to the public or private schools in their areas.  We have a couple of generations now following the infamous “generation X” that have graduated from high school with some apathetic senses of being and as we’re raising our own children we fear sending them into educational systems that only remind us of those endless hours of boredom, frustration, harassment and so forth.

There are two major factors that I feel appeal to parents regarding the virtual education choice: one is definitely cost as most programs are free and open to every student (at least in Florida’s case), the second is the fact that the actual mantle of teaching falls on the state-certified instructors who teach at these virtual schools.  The cost factor explains itself, the teacher factor is helpful for those parents who although they look forward to being involved on a daily basis in their child’s education–they may not feel comfortable enough to be the solely responsible adult teaching as in the case with some homeschooling programs.

This article does cite the standard cons of online learning (and perhaps, tongue-in-cheek about home-schooling as well) that include the thought that maybe these students lose out on interaction with other kids their age and don’t get the socialization that they would in a four-walled classroom.  I personally dismiss that idea immediately as there are so many opportunities for our children these days than when we ourselves were kids in the 70s and 80s (no offense please to the older generations).  It’s just that with all the mommy-and-me programs, sports, religious organizations, internet society and other extracurriculars, I think that kids these days are actually overstimulated to the point of apathy or burnouts.

The other side of this discussion is mentioned in this article and it refers to the teachers who are behind the virtual education and the fact that they are able to be more communicative with their students as they’re involved in writing and responding to them instead of just standing in front of a classroom.  I think this is a great career move for teachers out there who have becoming discouraged in their work because they spend so much time focused on disciplining their students instead of actually educating them on the curriculum at hand.

In the end it always comes down to the parents’ decision on what type of education program is best for their children.  It’s just nice to know that you now have more choices that each carry pros/cons.  In my mind, as I ponder my toddler’s future academic career, I am looking at public/private schooling, home-schooling and now Florida’s virtual schools.  Best of luck as you assist your beloved children, just remember you are always their first and most important teacher in life!

RVSB

Wyoming Life

"God bless it and keep it wild"