NORTHWEST ARKANSAS, (KNWA/KFTA) — As the pandemic continues, some families are looking to alternative forms of educations, like homeschool or virtual learning.
Choice Education Network tells us last year, the health crisis was the primary reason families were switched to homeschooling. This year, there is a range of reasons but homeschool continues to attract new families.
Amy Chiodo is the Founder and Director. She says the health crisis was one of several factors. For example, some families spent more time at home last year and enjoyed being more involved in their kids’ education. While others are looking for more flexibility.
Chiodo says homeschooling is a lifestyle change and has its challenges. She adds it’s about figuring out the curriculum and schedule that works best for you and your family.
“Parents generally know what the child is going to need to learn best. Do they need a more hands-on approach, do they need audiobooks, do they need a tutor for some subject and that is okay,” said Chiodo.
She adds to get your kids involved in picking some of their subjects, the more invested they are the better they will do with their work.
Chiodo says to utilize your resources, the library, the museums and other homeschool networks.
Some families are turning their homes into classrooms for virtual learning this fall. Some local parents who will have their kids back in virtual programs this year tell us figuring out this new way of learning was challenging at first. In the end, families enjoyed the flexibility and kids enjoyed a more condensed school day.
Now Springdale Public Schools is expecting about 600 kids to learn virtually this year. Over at the Fayetteville School District, it’s about 280.
Both schools saw a huge decline of virtual students this year but there are still hundreds of families who are taking on this learning format.
Virtual families tell us what worked best for them last year is setting up a space in their home for schoolwork, and creating an assignment plan for the week.
“We transformed the dining room into her virtual space, we had a little table set up in there a little bookshelf, with all of her supplies and all and she used that space to start her morning there every day to get into a routine,” said Erin McGarrah, Mom of a virtual student, Springdale Public Schools.
“If you don’t keep up with it, every day, or every week. The kid gets behind and then it is really hard to catch up. That kind of structure is important she has to get up, she has to have her breakfast she has to brush her team, she has to get dress and then she has to sit down and work,” said Fiona Davidson, mom of a virtual student, Fayetteville School District.
If you’re having a tough time, their advice is to reach out to the teachers for support and help on assignments.
Speak to other parents who have children in virtual programs and find out what’s working for them. Look out for learning pods. You may be able to work with another parent and switch off school days, where one parent takes the kids x days during the week, and you take them the remaining days.
At the end, both parents say it’s about finding the learning style that works best for your family.