Distance Learning is NOT Homeschooling


Well, the apocalypse arrived. And I can personally attest to public school children looking woefully out of their window while my homeschooled kids busied themselves in vital play, weaving in and out of our house on various “expeditions”, while fashioning bows & arrows out of twigs and yarn. I might even go as far as to say that quarantine has forced many parents to turn their own children into screen time zombies - and distance learning has done little to mitigate that problem.

Soon after schools shut down, my neighbor confided in me that she was drowning. Her workload had not slowed down at all during the quarantine. Many nights, she worked until midnight because during the day she spent most of her energy watching over her child's shoulder, pleading with him to complete his worksheets. Distance learning to her meant only three things:

Piles of  Worksheets. Lots of Tears. Rinse & Repeat.

“This is not how I imagined school to be for my son”, she confessed. 

Imagine the incredulous expression on her face when she learnt that I not only homeschooled my kids pre-Covid, but I actually enjoyed doing it.  A common homeschooling myth that persists is that homeschoolers are tucked away from society, isolated and buried nose deep in a thick, dusty Bible. It is easy enough to see why a parent who experienced “homeschooling”  during a pandemic may misconstrue one for the other. 

Fact : Distance Learning is NOT Homeschooling. 


 I thought long and hard about all the various ways distance learning differs from homeschooling.  I realized my long list of bullet points ended up coming back to one simple but important concept.


Personal Choice.


Everything about homeschooling boils down to freedom & flexibility in one’s own home. Who’s choice, you may ask? Mine & my children. Yes, I allow my children to have some say, within reason of course, of what they want to learn that week. I present them with options and let them decide. Instead of saying, “This is what you HAVE to do today”, I say instead, “Here are your options, What would YOU LIKE to do?” The whole tone of the conversation changes from mundane to exciting. When children get to weigh in on the decision making process, they become mentally invested in the idea. When this happens, I get to spend my time & energy actually teaching my kids vs hollering at them to sit down & pay attention.


Homeschooling VS Distance Learning

Distance learning is simply education of children following the state imposed core curriculum without the children having to be physically present in their school. It follows a rather rigid structure that relies heavily on screen time and scanning in worksheets. It focuses on academic instruction. Progress is charted through a grading system.

Homeschooling on the other hand is an umbrella term encompassing a myriad of curriculum choices & teaching styles. Homeschooling parents often follow the interests of their own child and make their own lesson plans. The focus is to pursue educating the heart and soul as well the mind. Life skills and character development play a central role. The immediate goals for homeschoolers is not to pass a test or excel in grades but to develop mastery over concepts. Homeschooling parents believe this will lead their children to cultivate a love for learning.

To truly understand that personal choice matters, I invite you to imagine your day as if you could exercise some control in your child's education. How would your day look? What activities would you choose to do? What conversations would you have with your child?

 Here are some things you would decide if you were to truly homeschool:


You get to Choose: Curriculum, books & other educational resources 

You would get to pick what curriculum best fits your child's unique interests. It could be based on your family's values and culture. You would be able to make adjustments as necessary, depending on how your child is progressing with the material. You get to change it up when it isn't working anymore and try something different. Without the pressure of worksheet completion, your own curriculum could take you on field trips, doing kitchen science experiments or spending a peaceful afternoon listening to J S Bach while painting pretty watercolor illustrations. In short, the world would be waiting for you and your child to explore.


You get to Choose: How much time is spent everyday on academic subjects & your own schedule

You might spend no more than a couple hours a day doing “school”. Or you could take school outside - exploring patterns in nature, building structures with sticks, counting ducks by the lake etc. At our home, academic subjects are not split into 30 minute periods of history, math, biology etc.  Rather a single topic might be explored through storytelling, art, books & hand on projects. You will also be able to follow along with your child's pace, spending most of your day on a single subject because your child keeps gravitating towards it. This way all “busy” work would be eliminated, leaving plenty of free time for conversation and socialization. 


You get to Choose: The style and method of teaching your child.

Our core book list are almost often books with beautiful illustrations and rich prose. Our math work often includes baking some crusty bread. Spelling is practiced by doing crossword puzzles & word searches. For handwriting, my kids often write sweet notes to each to each other or write out menu options for their pretend ice cream shop. When you drop the idea that school only looks like sitting down on a table filling worksheets, you can open up your mind to a number of different activities that enable learning while also making it fun.

You get to Choose - How dependent do you want your child to be on technology

Some families like mine have always been early adopters of tech. As a result, we have several tablets & monitors around the house. At least one kid is on a screen playing video games, watching documentaries or bombarding Alexa with a number of questions. But for another family, their children might spend all of their free time playing the ukulele or helping out on the family's vegetable patch. My point is, you would have complete control over how much your child's face is buried into a screen. 


So what can you do right away if distance learning isn’t working for you & you would like to try something different? 

  • Adjust your expectations 

School at home shouldn’t take more than a couple of hours depending on the age of your child. Most adults don’t have the attention span to sit in one place and focus for extended periods of time. Spread out the work in 10- 15 minute blocks throughout the day. 


  • Experiment with different learning styles

Some children learn better through audio visuals while others may gravitate towards movement. Creating a suitable environment that meets the needs of your child reduces resistance and produces better results.


  • Trust your child

This might be hard to believe but children love learning. Human beings are naturally curious creatures and our young ones are no exception. Trust them to observe, discover and draw conclusions themselves. Note that their interests may not be in conjunction with the mailed in lesson packet. That’s okay. Take a deep breath and follow your gut.


And finally…. 

  • Don’t sweat the small stuff

 It’s okay to skip parts of the lesson plan. If you cannot get your child to learn different cloud labels like cumulus or nimbus, just skip it.  


If homeschooling sounds like something you'd be interested in trying, we are here for you.  Join us in our Free Facebook Community if you're looking for some encouragement, resources, and support! 

Please feel free to download our Free PDF, "Choosing Curriculum" if you're feeling overwhelmed by all of the options. 

Grab Our FREE Guide on Choosing Curriculum!

"What do I teach my children? Where do I begin?
There are so many options & I'm totally overwhelmed!"

This step in the homeschooling process can be so paralyzing. I have received these questions more times than I can count & I can remember having the same questions myself.

I have created this guide to help you weed through the options. I want you to have some focus and direction when you are scouring the internet for the best options for your family.

Yes! I Want the Choosing Curriculum Guide!

Grab Our FREE Guide on Choosing Curriculum:

"What do I teach my children? Where do I begin?
There are so many options & I'm totally overwhelmed!"

This step in the homeschooling process can be so
paralyzing. I have received these questions more
times than I can count & I can remember having the
same questions myself.

I have created this guide to help you weed through
the options. I want you to have some focus and
direction when you are scouring the internet for the
best options for your family.

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