NEW YORK - Most schools in the New York City region are giving parents the option to send their children to school for hybrid learning, a combination of in-person and partially virtual lessons or completely virtual. But for those parents choosing to stay exclusively online their approach of how best to do it varies greatly.
"I thought the online learning went really well," said mom Julie Powers.
That is why Julie's first and fifth graders will continue with online learning this year with the hope of protecting family members at high risk for COVID-19. Powers is encouraged that the plan for remote learning this fall is more fleshed out than last spring, especially for her older daughter.
"She'll be in the classroom with her classmates. When they walk in she will be a part of the lesson and then she will have some time during the day to do her regular assignments and then they go back together as a group at the end of the day. I think that will work really well," said Powers.
"My first grader --I’m not expecting a whole lot. I try and supplement what the school is giving us with some other activities," said Powers.
Fostering her children's interests and learning more about their strengths and weakness was a major positive of remote learning for Powers.
"I was able to know more about what they are doing in school I think that was a huge take away for me. Just being with them all day with the academics I’m able to see what they are interested in and sort of foster that," said Powers.
To stay safe, her kids will only be seeing their friends virtually.
But for Marianna Rosenstrauss socialization was a major consideration, even though asthma will keep her first-grade son home. She has teamed up with three other families to form an education co-op.
"We are going to have about four kids and we hired a teacher who will be coming to the house every day, 5 days a week, to teach them the curriculum that the school is providing," said Rosenstrauss.
Marianna and the other families placed an ad for a teacher on cares dot com. Critics have said these homeschooling pods are using unqualified teachers, but she is happy with the person they hired.
"The woman we ended up hiring has her bachelor's in education and is currently enrolled in a master’s program for special ed so she is in school. She has taught at private schools in the past," said Rosenstrauss.
The teacher will take the burden of remote learning from working parents and will be there to supplement remote education that Rosenstrauss found to be lackluster in the spring.
"If she sees the kids are struggling she will also add extra math or stuff like that she will individualize each plan," said Rosenstrauss.
Allison Kane is really planning to individualize her education plan for her two kindergarten age children. After a difficult experience with remote education last year.
"I actually pulled them out of virtual 4-6 weeks in," said Kane. "I had spoken to one of the teachers and I said look Beckett cries when he has to get on this call. He used to love school now he dreads it. I’m going to take the lesson plans and just do it myself. "
And do it herself is exactly what this former marketing executive is doing: switching gears and completely homeschooling her children.
"As weird as it is when I was traveling the world for my job and had everything outsourced with the kids I never said I would enjoy being a homeschool teacher now that I’ve taken a step back I’m really looking forward to it," said Kane.
She adds that she can't send her children back to school yet. Years after having a kidney transplant, her husband's doctor says he is extremely high risk.
"She was very direct with him that if you get COVID based on stats they are seeing 75 percent that he will end up on a ventilator and 25 percent chance he will die. So that’s a big number," said Kane.
So Kane researched homeschooling programs and found Oak Meadow Curriculum. She will submit lesson plans and regularly meet with an educator for guidance.
"The teacher is basically my resource I will turn in lesson plans we will get on calls and talk about how they are developing what I’m struggling with and she will help guide me through the year."
To keep her husband safe, Kane's kids will not be socializing with friends in person. She hopes her children learn from homeschooling, but most of all they have a safe and good year.
"If we come out of this year with a wonderful, positive experience and memory great and if they are not necessarily reading at certain levels, they are little they will recover," said Kane.