CMS parents brace themselves for homeschooling during coronavirus pandemic

Updated: Mar. 18, 2020 at 7:39 PM EDT
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CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools (CMS) says next week teachers will provide online supplemental learning opportunities for students. Parents say this is welcome news as they are now forced to teach their children from home.

Sara John has a preschooler and a first grader and says all the support is needed.

“If I have learned anything through this,” CMS Parent Sara John said. “It is - I was not made to be a home-school teacher and it has stretched me in many ways.”

John says soon she will pick up a Chromebook so her child can have face to face time with his teacher. She is grateful teachers sent home about two weeks of homework but her son has almost completed it. The mother says she was ready for homeschooling by creating a learning schedule.

“It all just kind of went up in flames in the first 30 minutes,” John said. “So I decided if I can knock out three different things on that list any time during the day - we’ve had a successful day.”

People who have home-schooled for years say that is a good way to approach the day. Lisa Wigfall has home-schooled her son for about three year. This is her message to parents now forced to teach.

“It may feel overwhelming,” Home-school Parent Lisa Wigfall said. “And sometime it is overwhelming for me now, but you take one day at a time - one chunk at a time and you will definitely get through it.”

Wigfall says homeschooling allows her the flexibility to incorporate curriculum that is relevant. She did that as it relates to COVID-19.

“I at least added that into our lesson,” Wigfall said. “And that was part of what we did on Monday - talk about what happened on the trading floor.”

There are more than 6,000 households in Mecklenburg County where homeschooling happens regularly. Parents say one advantage of homeschooling is consistency. They say there are ups and downs and all types of situations in the public school setting but learning can always happen no matter the day.

“We’re able to focus on the things that interest them,” Home-school Parent Robin Pearson said. “Things they are interest to us - our values.”

Pearson has been homeschooling for more than 15 years. She is currently teaching her five children.

“You are able to get more things done,” Pearson said. “Be more productive and get school done in a few hours instead of all day.”

She has advice for all parents who are now entering the teaching world because of this pandemic. Some parents are figuring out how to juggle it all.

“Try not to balance it all like at one time,” Pearson said. “Especially with people who are just getting started - maybe you focus a few things each day.”

John is appreciative of the advice. She says she now has a greater appreciation for teachers and for what they do. She is also grateful that CMS teachers say they will help her anyway they can.

“They’ve been real encouraging about the fact that it won’t be like this forever,” John said. “And they are taking steps to create a virtual learning environment that will take some of the pressure off us parents.”

CMS is still waiting for guidance from the state about how to proceed with remote learning while teachers have been working to make sure all fourth- through 12th-grade students have devices to stay connected.

To hear a message from CMS Superintendent Ernest Winston click here.

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