Used to learning from home, coronavirus still impacts Middle Georgia homeschoolers

Like the parents of public or private school kids, parents who homeschool also have to adjust to shelter-in-place orders because for some, homeschool doesn’t mean you are at home all of the time.

“There’s all types of homeschoolers and why that might be true for a very small minority of homeschoolers for the majority of homeschoolers, especially here in Middle Georgia, I can say that we are a community,” said the founder of the Homeschool Genius, Nike Anderson.

Courtesy NIke Anderson
Nike Anderson, the founder of Homeschool Genuis, with her fourth and first grade sons

Anderson has been homeschooling for five years. She lives in Warner Robins with her husband and two sons, a fourth and a first grader. She founded the Homeschool Genius to offer parents tools and tips.

She earned her master’s degree in educational leadership where she became interested in homeschool as an alternative learning method. She did not set out to homeschool but found that it was the option that offered her family the most flexibility. It also offers a network of people.

“I belong to three homeschool groups, and between the three homeschool groups, they keep us busy. So, we definitely are a community that gets out there and gives the children lots and lots of social opportunities and learning opportunities.”

Anderson said there are many types of curriculum available. What parents decide to choose has a lot to do with their philosophy.

“I call ourselves a whole child education homeschool, where we don’t just focus on the academics, we focus on the child as a whole,” she said. “So we’re talking physical, spiritual, socially, emotionally, we focus on developing the child in all those areas.”

On her site, Anderson offers parents resources to find the curriculum that is right for their child. First-year homeschool mom Veronica McClendon adopted a curriculum from Anderson after she and her husband decided to try homeschooling with their oldest of two daughters.

Sonya Green
Veronica McClendon, an attorney and mother, is in her first year of homeschooling her five-year old daughter.

“We do some reading on history. We read books. We do handwriting. We kind of do those things every day,” she said.

McClendon said following a consistent routine that offers some variation works best for her. She incorporates a lesson in every activity.

“I try to get my child baking because she learns fractions that way, “ she said. “We say, okay, we got one cup of flour, how many fourth cups go into this one cup? We’ll count it out and try to put some math in there.”

Parents abilities to turn everyday experiences into learning opportunities is a part of the whole child education model used by Anderson.

“You could be learning about the solar system, but you’ll be learning about it from the point of, math, science and language arts, “ said Anderson.

The Homeschool Genuis encouraged parents, especially those thrust into homeschooling for the first time as a result of the pandemic, to keep an open mind about what constitutes learning.

“Play time is the number one source of learning. It allows a child to actually put their learning into practice,” said Anderson. “They’re practicing what they learned during play time and a lot of parents overlook it. But you can read studies upon studies upon studies showing that playtime is really essential for children.”

Playtime has been modified because of the coronavirus but it remains an important part of the homeschool routine. A typical day of homeschooling for the Anderson boys starts with playtime.

“We like to get the children moving as studies show that children who have physical activity before they get engaged in academics, they are able to concentrate a lot better,” Anderson said.

Their usual field trips with other homeschool families have become virtual trips at home to places like the Georgia National Aquarium. The homeschoolers have also created science experiments from a Smithsonian book.

Courtesy Nike Anderson
Nike Anderson, founder of the Homeschool Genius, giving her sons a lesson in making playdoh at their home in Warner Robins on March 30.

For the parents who are homeschooling for the first time, homeschool parents offered some advice.

“Get outside and enjoy nature. Really hone in on what’s important as a family,” said McClendon. “It’s a rare opportunity to really make the most out of this time.”

Homeschooling can offer parents more options. Anderson said, it’s a lifestyle choice.

“Homeschooling is freedom,” said the founder of Homeschool Genuis, Nike Anderson. “You know, it’s the freedom to just get out there and let the world be a classroom.”

*This story was also published by the Telegraph.