July 2020 – During the worst catastrophes and toughest circumstances, children are often the most negatively affected group. The chaos of COVID-19 was no exception.
The same virus that brought global industries to their knees overnight and grounded international travel also robbed many children of easy access to one of the most invaluable assets one could possess: education.
Because of the worldwide concern for the spreading virus, many countries made the unprecedented decision to shut the doors of schools.
The United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization reported that 186 countries closed their schools, affecting more than 1.2 billion students. This means that 9 out of every 10 students around the globe were suddenly barred from their classrooms. Schools rushed to supply online options, and millions of parents were thrust into the unexpected role of teacher.
Texas Home School Coalition (THSC) quickly created coronavirushomeschooling.com, a website on which parents could access lesson plans for grades K-12 free for a limited time.
Sam Sorbo, wife of God’s Not Dead actor Kevin Sorbo, partnered with THSC to promote this new program and to get word out that time at home can still be productive.
“You didn’t realize it, but now you’re homeschooling,” Sorbo said, addressing the millions of parents abruptly faced with teaching their children. “We’re ready to come alongside [parents] with everything they need and reassure them that they are very capable of getting this done.”
The program contains a plethora of curriculum materials. The site has already been a godsend for countless parents to end the school year, do a little summer catch-up, and possibly plan the coming school year.
“It’s comprehensive,” Sorbo told AFA Journal, “but you can do it at your kitchen table. It’s curriculum and helpful hints. [It’s] the agenda and schedules for you to download, checklists, projects, and educationally-minded games you can play with your kids.”
Once signed up, parents receive two emails each week with lesson plans, instructions, activities, and games. Also included are tips for balancing homelife with school, work, and family schedules. The program has already been used by thousands of people, and membership numbers grow daily.
“I’ve had people email me from Greece and England,” Sorbo said.
While the access to material may be readily available, many parents still have reservations concerning their ability to teach their children. According to Sorbo, this is an obstacle parents can overcome. She has been a homeschool mom herself for over a decade now, and she understands the hurdles of first starting the homeschooling journey. She says homeschooling has advantages for all parents.
“I felt wholly inadequate,” she said, “because I thought there was some special magic to teaching a young person. And there isn’t. The special magic is actually love. And once you have love covered, then you can figure out how to teach anything, to frankly, anyone. So, I encourage parents. I feel it is my calling to encourage and empower parents.”
Hurdles for homeschoolers
Homeschooling is common enough these days. However, the right of parents to educate their children is far from uncontested.
For example, a Harvard professor recently published a paper that calls for a ban on homeschooling.
From the legal angle, Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) has reported that several states have passed or attempted to pass legislation that further restricts homeschool families. One Minnesota law would mandate “a fundamental right to quality public education for all children,” establishing a clear preference for public schools.
Learn more about homeschooling rights at hslda.org or 540.338.5600.