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How our family has weathered the transition to online learning: the trials and the benefits

By Jessica Gibson

Our daugter started pre-k at the Homestead School in 2018 and moved on to kindergarten in 2019.  The school campus is an amazing environment for a hands on nature-based education, and the teachers are all so kind and understanding of each child. It is very comforting place, and our daughter truly loves the Homestead.  With the closing of the school campus due to the current pandemic, we were not sure what to expect from online learning.

At first it was a tough transition for us.  Our daughter really loves going to school and being with friends.  The teachers and staff did a great job getting very comprehensive packets together so the children could each just continue where they left off when they were still attending school, including art, Spanish and music.  Even though we had plenty of work to keep occupied, the first week was hard to navigate and the online platform was, for us, tricky; we are not a tech-savvy family (yet).

After one week of getting into a new system, things started to become a lot more enjoyable.  The teachers also seemed to be getting more comfortable with the online learning platform.  New fun videos are posted everyday and the personalities of the teachers are coming out in a way we as parents have never seen before.  Every week our daughter’s teachers put together a video collage of the students working and playing from pictures that have been posted throughout the week by the parents.  Our daughter loves it, she laughs and smiles everytime she watches.  Also, when she finishes a work she is so proud to take a picture and send it for teachers and friends to see.  The daily video lessons are very well organized and thought out and the teaching feels just as comprehensive as it did before online learning.  Our daughter still loves getting to “do” school everyday.  Hands on learning is still very much happening, just in a different setting with different materials.

The main reason we love the Homestead School so much is because of the perspective it provides the students.  Learning how to live in a way that is peaceful and in balance with the entire system around us is something that resonates strongly with us.  As a family, we value being a part of a community of people that seek to better understand everything they interact with, including other humans and the natural environment.  This behavior brings about peaceful interactions. 

When on campus our daughter spends so much time outside observing nature that she makes connections between what she sees outside among plants and animals and human behaviors.  We have been very happy with this particular principle of the school continuing through the online experience.  The teachers are always encouraging the students through the online learning to get outside with family and interact with nature. 

Our daughter has been getting her younger brother, who will be starting pre-k in the fall, involved in her learning experience.  She reads to him and has taught him how to spell his name.  Through observation of her working he has grown dramatically.  They go outside and become nature detectives, working together to draw pictures of things they see in their notebooks and sounding out words to make descriptions.  Through working with and teaching her brother we have seen her grow academically as well.  She recieves such joy knowing that she has someting to offer.  It is wonderful.  It has been a side effect of online education that we did not see coming but are so pleased with. 

We are more connected as a family during these interesting times and very grateful for the wonderful education that we are continuing to enjoy most thoroughly.  Thank you so much to the entire Homestead School. The teachers are amazing; you are helping us stay happy!

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