The COVID pandemic has turned our entire education system on its head. Decisions are being made and revised on an almost daily basis. No one is entirely sure what will be the best arrangement for K to 12 children in the coming year or two. In the meantime, funding resources are drying up as the U.S. tax base realigns to meet diminishing personal incomes. Parents of school-aged children are actively seeking out options and resources to assist them in creating the best educational arrangement possible for their students.
A summer 2020 survey conducted by RealClear Opinion Research, posed this question to parents: “Are you more or less likely to enroll your son or daughter in a homeschool, neighborhood homeschool co-op, or virtual school once the lockdowns are over?” Fully 40.8% of survey respondents answered they would be “more likely” to look for homeschool or virtual school arrangements. Only 31.1% replied that they would be less likely and would probably continue to enroll their children in a traditional school setting. 28.1% said they were still undecided.
John Schilling, President of the American Federation of Children wrote that “Every single family with kids in school has been incredibly disrupted by the lockdowns. With 55 million students no longer in their normal educational setting, families are clearly considering new options and many are seeing the benefits of homeschooling and virtual schooling.”
In the meantime, thousands of new homeschool parents are looking for educational resources to supplement school-required online programming. Alternately, if they have opted for a full-out homeschool solution, they may be wondering what can be done to replace resources that are traditionally provided by the brick-and-mortar classroom structure. School libraries are closed until further notice, but …
YOUR PUBLIC LIBRARY CAN HELP
Public libraries are also closed until the pandemic ends or states determine they are ready to open local economies for business once again. This does not mean your student has lost access to library services. Public libraries are still offering a wide variety of educational services to teachers, parents and students.
The University of Southern California’s Library and Information Science degree program website (https://librarysciencedegree.usc.edu/4-reasons-school-libraries-are-still-essential/) points out three excellent reasons libraries can be a great resource for parents dealing with virtual and homeschool arrangements:
- “Libraries help raise reading scores – In a world obsessed with test scores as the lone metric of teacher and student success, libraries have consistently demonstrated the ability to raise reading scores on standardized tests.
- Interactions with libraries boost literacy development – A study by the Pennsylvania Library Association suggests that kids who participate in library preschool programs demonstrate more pre-reading skills and emergent literacy behaviors than their peers. Likewise, library reading programs in the summer – a time when students’ skills typically decline – successfully encourage children to spend more time with books, thereby facilitating reading achievement.
- Librarians collaborate with teachers to enhance curricula – When teachers collaborate with librarians, they are three times as likely to rate their literacy teaching as excellent. Similarly, the more time librarians spend cooperating with classroom teachers, the more they promote literacy independently, and the more in-service they provide teachers, the higher the student test scores rise.”
Laura Kathryn Bright, writing for the website www.everylibrary.com on August 18, 2020 summarizes services libraries can provide even during pandemic-related closures, as follows.
“Your local librarian can provide great resources and materials to meet the needs of your homeschoolers, even if the library building is currently closed. Whether you are a seasoned homeschool teacher or you are considering homeschooling for the first time, your library has lots of awesome digital resources for your child. (Even if you plan on sending your child to a traditional school this fall, the local library can help your child to perform his or her best!) Let’s take a look at some of the digital resources and services your library can provide for your student.
- Virtual Support and Groups for Parents and Guardians – Your librarian can recommend ebooks, sites, and guides to homeschooling your children. Allow your local librarian to connect you with materials which will help you as you steer your homeschooler towards success.
- Resources for Early Readers – Libraries offer ebooks for readers of all ages, and they also offer special apps for young readers.
- Databases for All Ages – Whether your teen is researching biomes or your 8-year-old needs to learn about different types of clouds…[library] databases allow homeschoolers to learn about a wide array of topics and can eliminate questionable content and misinformation from appearing in searches. You can use databases yourself to build your skills as a homeschool teacher.
- Test Preparation and Tutoring – If you’re feeling a little rusty when it comes to algebra (or even elementary content,) you’re not alone. Many libraries offer online tutoring services. This service also offers practice tests tailored to a variety of grade levels and subjects. With Brainfuse HelpNow, tutors and students can meet together in real-time, so your homeschooler can get the help she needs, even if she’s preparing for the SAT.
- Digital Language Learning Opportunities – Libraries offer a variety of ways to learn languages digitally. For example, many libraries have virtual classes for English language learners, as well as virtual classes for native English speakers who would like to learn a new language.”
It’s impossible to know how long school-at-home arrangements will have to continue or exactly how many parents will permanently switch their kids to homeschooling once the pandemic is over. In the meantime, using your local library’s virtual programming as a digital resource for your homeschooler and as a supplementary resource to your curriculum of choice, can go a long way to reducing anxiety levels for new homeschool parents.
STUDENT ID CARDS GIVE YOU ACCESS TO ONLINE LIBRARY RESOURCES
From ebooks to help with test preparation, your homeschool student can have easy access to online digital library resources using a personal ID card from your own homeschool.
ID Cards for Homeschool (https://www.idcardsforhomeschool.com/) is an initiative program that allows you to build a custom ID card for you and your homeschooling child/children. It is recommended by law enforcement that your child has some form of ID in case of emergencies. On top of a student ID card, homeschooling parents are considered educators. Because of this, parents should have documentation that identifies them as such, for several beneficial reasons.