TAMPA, Fla — As August draws near, parents are faced with a tough decision of whether or not they will send their children back to school.
Pinellas County Schools released a draft of its reopening of schools for the 2020-2021 school year. District leaders with Pasco County Schools are continuing to fine-tune their back-to-school plan, offering parents and staff three options for their return to education. Which include traditional schooling, mySchool Online and virtual schooling.
As Coronavirus cases continue to surge across the state, families are finding themselves considering homeschooling their kids to ensure their safety.
“I just haven’t felt confident in the school systems ability to have a plan," said Cindy Mitchell.
Cindy Mitchell is a mother of two and has a son going into the 8th grade. He previously went to a private for traditional schooling, before distance learning became the new normal because of the pandemic. Mitchell is concerned about her son being exposed to the illness and the lack of planning and transparency from the school systems to parents. She plans to home school her son for now, with the potential of letting him return to traditional schooling in high school.
"When my son came home from school and had to do the distance learning, he was really good at maintaining on his own, I didn’t have to hover over him and get him to do his work. So I think making the transition to home schooling will be good for us,"said Mitchell.
With a growing interest in homeschooling, Heather Polk created a Facebook Group called "Tampa Bay Home school Families" that's grown to over several thousand members.
"I started the group back in 2008 and would get a lot of emails and questions about how I home schooled my kids so I would share information both ways and the group has grown over time," Polk continued. "Its more of a space for sharing resources, events, prayer requests sometimes and other needs. So its all about connecting needs and resources."
Polk knows there's a difference between homeschooling and distance learning and shares her insight on this within the Facebook group.
"I see this all the time and when people start to home school they literally want to take the experience that a child has at school and bring it home. They’re trying to mimic everything that child would do at school but at home and that’s usually where we see the most failure,” said Polk.
Every household is different, the same way that every child's learning style is different, that's why resources are valuable for anyone looking to transition their children from traditional to homeschooling.
"You have to think about education differently, ultimately you want to raise a human that can go into society that can think well, reason well, and be a contributor,” said Polk.
If you or someone you know is interested in homeschooling, they can begin researching through the Florida Parent Educators Association, there's also neighborhood co-ops, hybrid schools, and online communities like the "Tampa Bay Home school Families" Facebook group where you can learn from families with first hand experience or similar interest in switching to homeschooling.
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