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Amid the confusion over to homeschool or send her three children to school during the Novel Coronavirus Pandemic, Calvert County resident and Maryland Certified K-12 Art Teacher, Sarah Dohne said the decision to homeschool this year was one her family made together gradually over the course of the last year. Her final decision was made for various reasons.
“I am a stay at home mom right now with every intention of going back to work in some capacity within the next five years,” Dohne said. ”I love teaching and I value what the schools are trying to achieve through testing, but, like so many others, I have my own opinions about the effectiveness and usefulness of that testing.”
Dohne said she plans to hold her children to the highest of expectations and challenge them to learn and achieve new things.
“I plan to offer them a rigorous curriculum and consider what their peers are learning in public school each school year. I plan to refer to the state standards often as I consider our plans. Fortunately, however, I do not have to test them for the state competencies. I don’t plan to. I want my children to love learning and pursue learning now and throughout their life.”
Dohne has involved her three girls in the planning process.
“I believe they can and should be involved in making decisions about what they learn,” she said, “and how they can best demonstrate that knowledge. Fortunately, with just three student daughters [should they all decide to homeschool], allowing them to be involved in planning and to take ownership of their learning is a very real possibility for us.”
Dohne said her oldest is going into first grade this year. She spent kindergarten in the public school system and also had three years of preschool prior.
“She is one of those kids who begged for school; riding the bus, having a teacher, learning new things, and meeting a bunch of new friends,” Dohne said. “She absolutely loved preschool but struggled with kindergarten. She loved her teachers very much, loved riding the bus, and being a big kid. She did very well with her schoolwork. After about the first week, however, the long days caught up with her [and irritability set in].
Dohne said she and her husband began to seriously discus other options.
“After the COVID-19 pandemic set in, however, homeschooling no longer seemed so foreign and extreme.” Dohne said.
“My eldest chose to be homeschooled. My middle child, who’s going into kindergarten, really wanted to go to school and have that ‘first day of kindergarten’ experience; and I wanted all that for her and did not want to force her decision one way or the other but ultimately, however, the realization that this would not be a normal year at school encouraged her to opt for homeschool this year, as well.”
Dohne admitted that she was still very apprehensive about the need to homeschool, whether her children would gain the social skills they needed and if they’d all be able to focus at home.
“What will happen if they decide to go back to public school at some point in the future, and whether or not I will be able to pursue a career of my own,” Dohne said. “Although there is still no way of me knowing the answers to those questions now, I do feel less apprehensive.”
Dohne has now chosen a curriculum and said she’s gathered good resources.
“I’m very excited about the choice,” she said. “The girls have been watching me plan and gather resources throughout the summer and are eager to get started as well. The flexibility of homeschooling is incredibly inspiring. We will let a curriculum guide us, but we can also let the interests of the children guide us in our planning and daily activities.”
Dohne has chosen to use Time4learning, supplemented with SQUILT for music.
SQUILT stands for ‘Super Quiet Uninterrupted Listening Time’. SQUILT Music Appreciation was developed by the author, Mary Prather. Prather owns Homegrown Learners, a Homeschool community that focuses on music development.
For science, Dohne is going with a couple of Magic School Bus science kits and plans to visit the public library and will use Epic for additional reading resources. She’s chosen grade level workbooks from Brain Quest and Spectrum.
“Time4learning is great for many reasons. I liked that it is inexpensive and subscription-based, so you can cancel at any time if you decide you want to use a different curriculum or write your own,” Dohne said. “I also like that it can break up the lessons for you into a plan for your school year so your child can see just the activities they need to complete for that day or week.
“At the first grade and kindergarten levels it has ample activities for language arts and math, which I love since so many important life skills are learned in these subjects at this age, but just about one or two per week in science and social studies.
I plan to teach language arts, math, science, social studies, art, music, health, and physical education, therefore, I need to supplement considerably.”
One thing Dohne does not like is that Time4learning is all computer-based.
“I wanted to be sure my kids would have a variety of learning activities; things they can manipulate with their own hands and bodies, writing activities with real pencils, and stories read from real books. The supplemental materials I am gathering will provide that variation.”
Dohne said she’s excited to get started as are her three daughters.
For more information on SQUILT, visit www.squiltmusic.com.