LDS Parents Talk about Sending Kids to School this Fall — or Not

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school girl in face mask
Photo by Gayatri Malhotra on unsplash.com

Recently, on Facebook, there has been a lot of discussion about whether to send kids to school in the fall, while COVID cases increase in many locations. Here are a few of their comments. When we share this article on Facebook, please join the discussion. (*Not their real names.)

Mindi:

I am a mom of three kids, two boys and a baby girl. My oldest, who is seven, will be going to first grade this year and I was hoping to send my younger son to preschool this year. I also work in a skilled nursing facility as an occupational therapy assistant rehabbing patients to be able to go home.

I have to work part time to help feed my family as my husband has been going to school.  He also works full time making respiratory testing kits and both of us have been deemed essential.  When school was closed last spring, it was a real challenge to keep up with school and work.  We split our day—in the mornings my son would work on math, he’d do a math online program and two to three worksheets to stay on top of what was sent.

Meanwhile I was caring for my two other children as well as getting myself ready and teaching him math concepts he needed to know to complete the worksheets.  I then would go to work, which has been incredibly stressful as every day something new happens. New regulations, and now new COVID cases within our facility.  Then I come home and we do reading/english for a few hours.  We still fell behind. Mentally and physically I could not keep up with everything that was expected to teach my child on top of working and taking care of my other children.

My son needs to go to school if he is going to keep up. It’s frustrating to hear that ‘school is not a daycare.’  I don’t expect it to be a daycare.  But I also have to work and can’t teach my child and provide for him. I cannot go back to what we did at the end of last school year.  He is a smart kid, but I can’t give him everything he needs to be successful this year.  He will fall behind and it will frustrate him and potentially ruin his passion and excitement for learning.  I can’t let that be the sacrifice we make.

All I am asking is with these plans that we leave room for the working parents.  The parents like me, who also are putting themselves at risk every day working in a facility that currently is experiencing a COVID outbreak.  I worry I will bring it home to my children, I worry especially about my baby.  There needs to be an online option for parents who are not comfortable with sending their children to school.  But there needs to be do-able options for the working parent. Online only is impossible for me, half days extremely burdensome.  I would welcome a 4 day week or even one where school is shortened by an hour to give teachers extra time.

We are all in this together, we need to support each other as we are all taking risks to do what’s best.

Sandy:

I only have preschoolers but my kids are germ magnets. I swear my 4-year-old missed more in the winter months than when he went. One reason I have enjoyed home church so much 😂But social interactions outside of our home are really beneficial for him. I’m torn as well. Sorry, don’t have much advice either!

Kristin:

I have really really loved homeschooling my kids for several reasons.
1) It is nothing like the distance learning you all experienced this spring because you go at your own pace and you are in charge of the subjects you teach.
2) You get quality time with your kids at lunch and breakfast and whatever you do during the day, so after school, they can play and engage in extracurricular activities without burn-out of 6 hours of school and 3 hours of homework!
3) You get to decide how long you spend on a subject and how deep you go into each subject based on your child’s interest without playing catch-up with 30 students.
4) You get to include the gospel in every subject if you want.
5) School does not need to take 6 hours! Have fun and play with them or let them have free play
6) Get involved with other homeschool families for fun!

Tisha:

This past school year has taught me that I am a horrible homeschooling mother. I hated all of it, loathed every single day where I was “in charge” of school. For my mental health, I’m sending them all back to school and I’m not ashamed to admit that I need space. If it makes you feel any better, studies have been done about COVID transfer (in Iceland—I don’t have the source but I’ve read it and you can probably Google or ‘duck duck go’ search to find it), and out of (I believe) 800 youth participants, zero children had passed along the virus. I’m going to trust my kiddos to do their best with the masks, and also trust that their immune system will be able to do its thing and get stronger.

Amy:

I’ve been asked about homeschooling a lot lately. Many of you are choosing to homeschool this fall and want to know how you do it.

There are a lot of ideas out there about homeschooling. Some families choose to homeschool more freestyle, letting their children’s interests guide them. They take a more exploratory approach. Because of my background and experience in the classroom, I’d say I’m very much a “public school” homeschooler.

What I mean by that is that I teach subjects, stick to a schedule, I am constantly evaluating their work and reteaching until standards are met. My style of homeschooling isn’t always favored in all homeschooling communities, but it works for us. I will also say that as more and more people choose to homeschool they are looking for a more structured “public school” look approach.

I am happy to share what we do for each subject. I really like the Good and the Beautiful program for Language Arts. It is an open and go (meaning no prep) program that I sit down and use every day with each of my kids on their specific level. It is the one subject I absolutely teach one on one every day. They do have a full curriculum, I just choose to use their Language Arts. However, Eddy is in a group this coming year where he will also use their science and social studies programs with a group of middle schoolers. Here is more about their program.

John:

I am a widowed father. My two sons (14 and 9) are living at home. I am also an essential worker—I don’t get to quarantine. Last spring was a nightmare. No one is home to cook lunch, let alone keep the boys on task.

I desperately need schools to open in some form.

How are you feeling about school this fall? Share your ideas and concerns in the comments.

Gale Boyd is the managing editor for ThirdHour.org. She is a Jewish convert to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and has lived all over the world. She has raised 6 Third Culture Kids and is always homesick for somewhere.