2020 school year – grade 6

We’ve done a lot of talking about school over the last few months, especially recently. We were waiting to see what the school board had planned, but school is only a few weeks away and they haven’t given us much. Schools are opening again. Grades 4+ are expected to wear masks, but class sizes aren’t reduced at all so social distancing will be impossible. They are “cohorting” so that kids are with all the same kids all the time, and staggering breaks, but teachers for French and Music and such will still be visiting all classes. And there are some huge things they haven’t addressed. Like, Steven’s school only has 3 washrooms. Each one is shared by like 8 classrooms. Is it someone’s job to constantly clean the washroom? What about shared resources? Library books? Art supplies? Toys?

And kids and staff are supposed to self assess before going to school every day… but some parents won’t. Some parents have always sent their kids to school sick. And it doesn’t really matter because you can have covid and pass it on to other people long before you show any symptoms.

They’ve said it’s up to parents to decide if it’s safe for their kids to go to school. They’ve said there will be “voluntary learn at home options”, but they haven’t said what those will entail. We’re supposed to decide now, without answers to all these questions and more, if we’ll be sending our kids to school or if they’ll be learning at home or if we’re doing something else. If they stay home first semester, but are enrolled with the school board doing whatever their learn at home thing is, then they could go back in the new year. But there will be no late enrollment this year, so if you homeschool it’s definitely at least for the year. For now anyway. Maybe come January they’ll just want everyone back at school.

Steven has said he doesn’t feel safe going back to school, and I have to agree. Liam is hopeful that the numbers will stay down, and is of the opinion that regardless this is the new normal and we may as well get used to it. A vaccine may be years away (the 2 trials that were in progress have failed at this point). But we’ve always let Steven decide. Homeschooling has always been an option. Until now he’s just never chosen it.

In talking about school, Steven said he definitely doesn’t want to go back to the physical school. And he doesn’t want to learn by “just sitting at a computer”. We don’t know what the school board’s plan is for learning at home… but, honestly, I can’t imagine it’s much more than just sitting at a computer… So, it seems we’ll be going full out homeschooling this year.

Steven has, in some ways, always struggled with traditional school. He is not a book learner. He doesn’t learn from just listening either. He learns by discussing and doing. If you can find some way to have him physically show what he’s learning while having a discussion about it, he will learn it. And that is hard to do at school with 30 or so kids. But it’s something I have struggled with at home too, mostly because I am a book learner. I always have been. If every year of school someone had handed me a workbook and left me alone, I would have been a happy camper.

But, if there’s one thing we learned from our short foray into homeschooling last year, it’s that you don’t actually need to spend a lot of time on it. One kid doesn’t need 6 hours of school a day, it just takes that long to cover all the material with 30 kids. So we have time to figure this out. I have told Steven to tell me what’s working and what isn’t, and that if he’s frustrated we can come back and look at it another way later, and if he has any ideas to let me know. We’ll figure this out together.

Hopefully when he goes back to normal school (whether it’s next year or grade 9, it’s up to him, but I won’t do highschool at home), he’ll at least have a better understanding of his own learning styles. If he’s struggling with something at school, he’ll be able to bring it home and find a better way to study it.

So, I’m figuring out the plan for the year, and I’ll try and keep posting what I find here. And I’ll welcome any ideas anyone has.

Oh! I almost forgot. If you intend to homeschool, in Ontario, you have to send a letter of intent to the school board. I found a template you can print out here.

Stay safe!
~Lauren