It seems as if the COVID-19 pandemic is a never-ending fever dream. We’ve spent our days wearing masks, taken the vaccine and its available boosters, and stayed quarantined in our houses for weeks at a time. Everybody has been affected by this four-year pandemic in all sorts of ways, but perhaps one of the most socially affected is us. Students.
News outlets everywhere are mass-producing articles about how the pandemic has harmed us. About how the pandemic changed (and worsened) how we learn and about our declining mental health and social activity. These articles focus on the college and high school students who go to public institutions, as that is the mainstream.
But what about a more specific us: homeschoolers?
According toThink Impact, there were around 2.5 million homeschooled people in grades K-12 in 2019 alone. I am sure that this number has only grown since that time.
Before I dive into how the pandemic has affected us, I would like to clarify that the majority of what I will list past this point is based on my opinions and experiences as a lifelong homeschooler and senior-to-be in high school. Other homeschoolers may have different experiences and opinions, and it is important to know that they be acknowledged as well.
For public school students, the pandemic forced a lot of people to adapt to online, reclusive, and independent learning. The reality for homeschool students? We’ve done that since the dawn of home education.
I am ashamed to admit that when schools started switching to online learning, I didn’t understand why other students were having difficulty. I understood that online learning is something that they weren’t familiar with, but I was still surprised to see how the majority of the students struggled with their new, temporary form of learning. I had been incorporating online academias into my education ever since my last years of middle school; it has been a part of my everyday life for years.
Another thing that baffled me was how both professionals and students alike kept bringing up the lack of social interaction. A “stay-at-home” education is truly a “stay-in-your-house-for-the- majority-of-your-time-with-very-little-social-interaction” education, and so I barely leave my home. Some homeschooled kids — who are what I call the lucky homeschooled kids — find clubs or groups in their community to join, but since I live in a very rural area and my whole family is just a bunch of blood-related hermits, I do not have that luxy.
I grew up believing that social interaction could never be a necessity; it was a want that many people take for granted. Through the pandemic, I learned that I was wrong.
Through the pandemic, I saw how almost nothing changed for me, even though my life was supposed to be turned upside down — just as everyone else’s has been — and how I needed to seek improvement.
For me and the other homeschoolers like me, these past four years have been a learning experience quite different from what we are used to. COVID did not teach us how to perform better in math or how to ace our final papers; rather, it taught us change.