This post contains affiliate links. Read the full disclosure here.
To show you how bad it is, I have compared their proposed daily schedule to ours on the Ron Paul Curriculum in a kind of side-by-side match up. Who will win…
The local school system released their plans for distance education that will be taking place this fall and, oh boy, has it stirred up some emotions. Spoiler alert: most of what I’m hearing is not good.
Many people are still concerned about the COVID-19 virus, while others came to the realization over the course of the school shutdowns that online learning works well for their families.
Of course, there are also those parents who are chomping at the bit to send their children back into the traditional classroom. For those parents, there will (as of now) be an option to enroll their children in a regular classroom setting this fall.
For the other parents who are interested in continuing with online learning, there will be an online public school option. Whichever option the parent chooses, they will be locked into it for the entire semester, so there will be no backing out or reconsidering.
An Unworkable Plan
Someone sent me a copy of the local school district’s online education plan for 3rd-5th grade (Cobb County, GA) and, guys, it is insane. It is completely inflexible and just way too much.
I have no idea what kind of parent or what kind of student it is intended for. It would be nearly impossible for an independently wealthy stay-at-home parent and their extremely compliant, prodigy-of-an-only-child to do.
If we are talking about working parents, single parents, families with multiple children, or a family with even one child who has any kind of special need, then forget about it.
Their Schedule Vs. Mine
Let me compare a typical day in my house to what it would be like if my family attempted Cobb County’s nightmare of an online-learning schedule.
8:00 am Each day will begin with a LIVE class meeting with the teacher.
Uhhhh, that’s a no from me. At 8:00 am sharp we are either loading up in the van so I can go to my favorite class at the gym, or else we are still in bed. My sleep and my work-outs are the two things I am not flexible about.
ELA (English Language Arts) Instruction 95 minutes broken down into a 25-minute LIVE session with the teacher, a 60-minute independent work session and a 10-minute LIVE closing session with the teacher.
NINETY-FIVE MINUTES? Most of my college classes were not ninety-five minutes, but okay, I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt.
At around 10:00 am we officially start our homeschool.
Unless it is Tuesday and then we go to Bible Study. Or if it is Thursday. On Thursday there is a program at the local library that my children really enjoy. Oh, and there’s a homeschool thing once a month at the State Park that the Rangers put on where the kids learn about biology and nature at the park, and we try not to miss that.
Not to mention other local treasures like the Civil War museum, the train museum, the botanical gardens, the natural history museum, the aquarium, the art museum, the farm, live performances, the zoo and all the other local things my kids enjoy doing on weekdays as part of their homeschool.
I guess if we signed up for this online learning program we would only be able to do those kinds of things on weekends or school holidays. You know, at the same time as everyone else. When it’s most crowded and unpleasant.
Anyway, on a completely regular day, my elementary school aged kids watch their first RPC instructional video at 10:00 am. Sometimes the video is even 25 minutes long, the same length as the instruction portion in the public school’s version. Usually my kids can pay attention to a 25 minute lesson.
So, you know, maybe this isn’t so different from what we do after all.
…Except that in Cobb County’s version it is closer to 8:00 am than 10:00 am. Oh yeah, and there are still seventy minutes left. Of the same subject.
Sure, sure, we spend more than just the 25 minutes of the RPC video on ELA. Depending on the day of the week we have worksheets, writing assignments, journal entries, reading assignments, handwriting practice, and spelling tests. But even when you include those things, I’m sure we’ve never spent ninety-five minutes just on ELA curriculum.
…Whew. For our public-school friends it is time for a nice long break now, right?
BAM! Math Instruction 95 minutes broken down into a 25-minute LIVE session with the teacher, a 60-minute independent work session and a 10-minute LIVE closing session with the teacher.
This is sort of similar to our homeschool because we usually do ELA and math back to back. It is also similar to our homeschool because we are both finishing up our ELA and math curriculum between 11:30-12:00 pm.
However, by this point I’ve already
- watered my plants
- emptied the dishwasher
- put in a load of laundry
- fed the kids breakfast (including a baby)
- changed at least one diaper
- taken a child to the potty at least once (potty training, yay)
- gotten everyone dressed
- gone to the gym (where my kids get to socialize with their friends)
- come back from the gym
- done our reading curriculum, and
- done our math curriculum.
Now it is time to make lunch for three kids, feed a baby, make lunch for myself, and then clean up everyone’s lunch. I also find the time to eat the lunch I made for myself. Oh, and somewhere in the mix of all of this I put the baby down for a nap. Cobb County’s plan gives students thirty minutes for lunch.
Did I mention that if you have children that are in different grades, their thirty-minute lunches won’t even be at the same time? That’s insane. Have I used the word insane yet? Yes?
That’s because it is insane.
The Pain Continues
60 Minutes Alternating days between social studies and science, starting with a 25 minute LIVE session, followed by 25 minutes of independent work and closing with a 10 minute LIVE session.
After we wrap up our definitely-longer-than-thirty-minutes lunch we’ll be doing any number of things.
One of my personal favorites is quiet-time. This is a great time for little ones to take a nap and older ones to do some free reading. Sometimes I let my oldest sneak out of quiet-time for a bit to study Spanish with me (it is something that I am trying to learn). Sometimes we don’t have quiet-time, and they just play. They love to be outside when the weather is nice, but they can get pretty creative in the house too.
One, 55-minute Specials class will be offered
“Specials” are listed as: art, music, PE, counseling etc.
We use our afternoons to catch up on any assignments or curriculum that we didn’t get to in the morning. Sometimes we are just getting around to starting on our curriculum around 3:00 pm because we had other activities or plans in the morning. Sometimes we don’t get around to doing our curriculum until the evening, which is also okay because there is no “homework” since all of it is at home. Sometimes we have a very busy day and we don’t get around to doing curriculum at all, which is also okay because we never have a problem making it up.
Oh, and if you feel like there is something missing from Cobb County’s schedule, don’t worry. There’s a caveat at the end labeled “Other” that covers the aforementioned thirty minute lunch break as well as: breaks embedded throughout the day, peer socialization and Social Emotional Learning (SEL) opportunities embedded throughout the day, orientation/training provided for parents regarding basics of remote learning and the platform, CTLS Learn.
It says that accommodations will be made for 504 plans/IEPs, Special Education and English Language services (all virtually). Remote learners must comply with the Student Code of Conduct and families who choose remote learning are committed to one semester.
I noticed something that they did not mention: homework. Sure, their school day ends at 2:30, but does it really? I’ve heard nightmares about the public school homework workload even for kindergarteners. It’s something to think about when making a decision about an online learning plan.
There you have it. If all of that sounds like it would work for you and your family, then I am not here to convince you otherwise. I’m here to tell those of you who are interested in online education that Cobb County’s online learning schedule is not at all indicative of what homeschooling is like for most of us who homeschool.
We aren’t beholden to a strict daily schedule or even a strict yearly calendar. Sometimes we do school on Saturdays. We even do school on vacation. That’s right, we make our kids do school on vacation and they don’t hate it.
An actual example of vacation homeschool: During a week-long trip to the beach (when all other families were at home and in school), our oldest did an hour or so of dedicated curriculum work in the morning while everyone was getting ready for the day.
Then, we spent as much time as we could stand playing and exploring on the beach. In the afternoons we visited a different local site to incorporate history, science, and social studies into our vacation studies.
We went to a historic lighthouse, a military base and museum, a coastal science center, a museum of the histories of the local cultures, and an aquarium. In the evenings we usually went back out to the beach to go for a walk. It was a full week of learning, and we didn’t have to take a week off of school or plan it around the public school system’s schedule.
Don’t let these local school district plans scare you away from online learning! Think outside of the public school box and open yourself to the possibilities.
Our kids grow up fast.
We have less time to spend with them than we think. They have less time to spend building bonds with their siblings than we think.
If you agree and you want to do something about it, why not try out the Ron Paul Curriculum? The first 5 lessons are free to try for all courses (except first grade, where the first 40 are free).
See what’s available. Test drive the video-based lessons for free.
The curriculum comes with a 60-day, 100 percent money-back guarantee. I encourage you to try it out.