Erie Homeschool Mom Offers Options, Advice as School Year Approaches

'Only you can decide what is best'

By Jayme Young August 13, 2020

A note from Macaroni Kid Erie publisher Kara Murphy: It's been an incredibly stressful and anxious time for families as we all face schooling decisions this school year we never thought we'd have to make. 

Macaroni Kid Erie reached out to Jayme Young, an Erie mom of two that has been homeschooling for 12 years. She's homeschooled while helping operate her and her husband's landscaping and plowing business, J and B LawnCare. She told me that "the freedom and flexibility traditional homeschooling gives our family has been one of the greatest rewards." 

But she knows homeschooling isn't right for all families, or is even possible for all families. So she also offers other options here, along with advice as we all move forward into this uncertain school year. 

Erie Homeschool Mom Offers Options, Advice as School Year Approaches

The pandemic has created so many unknowns this school year.  

You have been forced to make choices about school that you may not have been prepared for. 

You don’t know if things will change two days or two weeks after the start of the school year.

With so many unanswered questions you are wondering how do you begin navigating the process of figuring out what will work best for your family?

Only you can decide what is best, but hopefully this article is something that will be helpful to you. Here are three non-traditional school options to consider:

Cyber school 

Cyber school, also called online distance learning, has everything planned, supplied, and taught by a teacher. Your job:

  • Facilitating your child’s education by making sure they attend regularly
  • Checking that they are completing their assignments
  • Providing basic school supplies
  • Communicating with their teachers

In cyber school, teachers will still be responsible for the teaching, grading, and overall management of the class experience. 

Traditional homeschooling

Traditional homeschooling involves:

  • Filing paperwork with the state
  • Searching for and choosing curriculum from hundreds of options based on your child's learning style
  • Teaching/facilitating the learning of the material
  • Assessing progress
  • Reporting to the state your progress at the end of each year.

This style offers significant freedom to meet each of your child’s individual needs. Traditional homeschooling can lend to more flexibility in your schedule and less screen time than online schooling.  However, it also requires that you create and monitor their education experience for each subject for the entire school year. Parents that homeschool take on the entire responsibility for their child's education on themselves.  This option can feel like a daunting process, but there are several local Facebook groups and countless online resources for information and support.  

Legal tutor

Hiring a certified teacher to utilize the legal tutor option is another schooling choice in Pennsylvania. This can be used when parents prefer a homeschooling option, but for whatever reasons that seems just out of reach. Several families can even pool together to find a certified teacher to instruct their children.  

'This is where we pull together as a community'

I believe it is important to address the elephant in the room.  The sheer fact that any of these options may seem impossible for families where there is a single parent or two working parents who do not have the luxury of working from home.  

What do these families do?  What are their options?  

This is where we need to pull together as a community.

Consider finding a college student who is able to come to your home and oversee your child’s cyber schooling, or searching out a stay-at-home mom willing to take an additional student or two. 

Another possibility is to reach each out to the homeschooling community and see if there is a family that can help facilitate your child’s schoolwork while you are at work. You may be surprised and find help in places you didn’t realize were available to you.  

Creating consistency

What children need is some normalcy and consistency in their lives. School is a huge part of our children’s lives. The pandemic has created a significant instability in that area.  Success can be had through your willingness to be flexible and open to meeting your child’s needs in unique ways.

Here are four things to remember as we move forward in this uncertain time:

  1. There is a distinct difference in how each schooling option works, but each can be equally successful.
  2. Each option requires different skills from the parent and child, so keep each family member’s needs in mind. Pick which works best for your family and don’t judge yourself based on what others are doing.
  3. Reach out for support. You aren’t alone and every parent with school age children is facing the same difficult choices you are facing.  
  4. Remember to take a deep breath and be kind yourself. We are all in uncharted territory and there is no right or wrong, just right for you and your family. 

Jayme Young is an administrator for the Facebook page, Homeschooling Connections of Erie, PA, an all-inclusive group of homeschoolers (traditional, cyber schoolers, unschoolers, and everything in between) in and around Erie, Pa. If you're looking for support or have questions, you can join the group anytime!