For many parents, deciding if their children should go back to school in the classroom or stay home and use the remote learning programs offered by their school board has been a major challenge as the new school year begins. One Vankleek Hill family has decided on a third option, home schooling.
Jennifer Holla has two children, one in senior kindergarten, and one pre-school age. When school ended due to COVID-19 in March, Holla, who is a trained teacher, began teaching her oldest at home. As the new school year approached, she decided to continue.
“We just kept doing it,” Holla said.
She explained that home schooling works well with the rhythm of their family and household. Holla’s husband usually works from home and assists with instruction.
Holla began teaching the basics of knowing alphabet, reading, and numbers. However, her child became more interested in units based on specific subjects such as how the earth was formed, so Holla began incorporating reading, writing, and numbers into the units.
After having seen their older sibling learning at home, Holla’s youngest child became interested and has begun to participate. She said that they interact well together, especially since much of the learning at their age level is play-based.
Holla had already been researching homeschooling and had talked with some other homeschooling families about it. She attended a homeschooling conference a few years ago and began to discover resources online and Facebook groups where parents can share ideas and suggestions. Online resources include thecanadianhomeschooler.com , and the Ontario Federation of Teaching Parents–https://ontariohomeschool.org/.
Language instruction is also a significant part of Holla’s home teaching. Her heritage is Cantonese, so she is teaching her children the Chinese dialect to preserve the heritage. Holla’s husband teaches the children French.
A day is usually composed of schoolwork in the morning and quiet time for reading, indoor play, or outdoor play in the afternoon. There are frequent breaks for snacks throughout the day.
Parents in Ontario still have rules and regulations to follow if they choose to homeschool their children. Holla notified the school her child would have otherwise attended that she would be teaching at home and the school board later responded to state it had received her notice.
“It’s working out for us and I’m enjoying it,” Holla said of her homeschooling experience. She said that she has not yet decided if she will homeschool her children long-term.