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Some overwhelmed parents are abandoning at-home schooling (theglobeandmail.com)
318 points by finphil on April 28, 2020 | hide | past | favorite | 526 comments

At-home schooling, when you weren't prepared and cannot provide the time, is not at-home schooling.

The educators were caught off-guard. The parents were caught off-guard.

Let's not make decisions about what method works and doesn't work. These are unprecedented times. Just make sure your child reads about topics they enjoy, and do activities they enjoy.

Reading and Writing are the most important skills. This is for a short period of time anyways. Relax, you only need an hour or 2 a day. Ensure your child is happy and healthy. Those are the most important measurements.

All the best.

I fear that we'll come out of this with a warped, unreasonably negative perspective of several things that are actually very good and beneficial. Remote work is one thing that might take a hit, because people will think that this is what remote work is like. I've been remote for 2.5 years now and this experience is not representative.

I fear the same will happen to the notion of home schooling.

Before COVID, the only people I saw home schooling were doing so out of ideologic incentives.

(Other than extreme edge cases).

I see no issue with home schooling receiving a negative rep.

Unless you're a trained educator, I see no benefit to home schooling children and depriving them of standard curriculums and socializing.

(I'm biased having only experienced positive public school environments in Russia and Canada. Perhaps there is some dystopia with the American Public School system, but the root problem is America, not public schools)

Not everyone has the same image or experience of school. I see School as a day care for children to allow parents to work during the day, with some inefficient learning on the side. It's very convenient, but not the only option.

Personally I learned nothing (edit: not much) in school, was bullied, it was an awful experience and all I remember is watching the clock all day waiting for it to pass while daydreaming. Elementary school was like one year to learn to make additions, one year multiplication, for how many hours in school? To finally get a lot of children struggling to read in 6th grade. Middle school was more or less the same for me. I feel like I was the subject of an ideology too.

I was similarly bullied through school and would easily get bored with the ease of the content.

I think partly because I never had the fine tuned sense of social interaction that many are naturally blessed with and paired with a dangerous tendency to let pigheaded curiosity be a guiding principle.

But, the the stuff it has taught me is indispensable. It was never taught explicitly, but without school I would have grown up completely oblivious of the invisible walls, thorns and highways that inhabit the society we live in.

Like if you want to infiltrate into a rebel base as a spy, you would want to spend a lot of time learning their mannerisms and adopting a persona. School helped me tremendously in fitting in, because my type of person would have certainly ended up an outcast in this society, if I was to be homeschooled.

Yes that's pretty much the question I'm trying to answer, and how outside activities with other kids could maybe replace that aspect of school.

Damn, Im sorry for your loss. School, like university, is not just about being looked after by more competent people. Its a place where you not only learn academic disciplines but also begin to understand how the real world works - social hierachies, networking and building relationships etc etc. To an extent, its what you make of it.

I don't question it's essential to learn what you point out, but that school as it exists and is organized now is maybe not the best, or at least the only way fit-all approach for education + socializing. On the education I'm sure it's not. On the socializing part I clearly didn't make much of it but maybe I'm lightly on the spectrum so it didn't help.

I read this essay a few years ago and it really resonated, it does obviously a way better job at putting my feeling into words: http://www.paulgraham.com/nerds.html

Interesting essay. Not to pry, but how old are you? pg went to high school in the 80s, and as someone who attended more recently, most of his points read like artifacts of the time--something with more resemblance to a John Hughes movie than real life.

Are you really certain that you weren't one of the people who actually was part of the privileged clique?

My small town school had instances of missing teeth, broken jaws, one kid beaten far enough to require hospitalization for 2 weeks, etc. 10 years later, the popular kids say that there was no bullying and it was all intended in good fun. My therapist didn't even believe me at first when I discussed the things that were going on at my school, but luckily I do have some reminders of those times on visible places.

I'm 100% sure I fall under "nerd" as pg uses it--if you'd asked a random student in my year to name a nerd, it would've been me--and that's why I have trouble connecting with these stories. Neither I or my Academic Decathlon/programming/D&D friend group encountered that level of bullying. Cliques were there, but most people were in more than one, so the lines weren't very stark.

Your school sounds awful, I'm sorry. I went to a pretty diverse school with >2000 students, so there was some violence, but it was either mutual or gang-related. Petty teenager dickishness existed, but nothing like the kind of Stephen King bullies you describe. As far as I know, at least.

I admit I could've been oblivious, but for that to be possible already indicates a friendlier environment than these descriptions.

I don't necessarily disagree with you overall, but home schooling in general has one massive advantage over normal schools: the teacher to student ratio.

There are so many things that happen when you are sitting in a class of 32 students that could be far better. Delays simply due to lagging students, teachers not having time to properly explain things, or get to understand and correct holes in their students' knowledge, tailor subjects to their tastes and interests, etc. Some random acquaintance who home schooled her children pointed out to us that their biggest problem - after finishing the government mandated curriculum for the day in 2 hours - was finding things to actually keep the kids busy for the rest of the day. It makes me wonder what an optimised education system could actually achieve.

The problem I have with this is the "teacher" to "person" ratio. It doesn't matter if the teacher has more time per student to answer questions and properly explain if they don't know the answer. It's lacking in depth.

There really isn't any difficult material (at least in the UK) up to KS3. A competent tutor should be able to cover at least STEM alone, and I would be surprised if one person couldn't cover most of the rest.

There's also the issue that in a home schooling environment, the student is vastly freer to just ask questions. In a school, there's a curriculum and a lesson plan to follow, so the only questions that get answered are along the lines of "how do I do (this thing you just asked me to do)".

Another way to put that is that public schooling has the same problem, and institutionally at least the solution is to just discourage those questions.

It is not the concept knowledge that is lacking but the pedagogical knowledge. Knowing how to teach something is different from just knowing the thing. Especially when you consider that your child will have different learning needs than you did. Teaching professionals are experts at what they do.

A teacher has an entire classroom of children who rotate periodically, all of whom have different skills and learning styles.

A parent teaching their child for months and years gets a pretty good idea of how their child learns. They don't need to know how to accommodate every learning style, they just need to figure out one.

I don’t mean learning styles particular to students. I mean something specific to what is being taught: the dozens of different ways of teaching each skill.

This is quite an important point, though I would hope that someone who decides to dedicate 10 years or so of their life to the task would read up on the topic. (I mean that non-ironically, I suspect it is often lacking and doesn't happen.)

On the flipside, I have had several real teachers about whom I frequently wondered why they had chosen teaching as a profession. It was like they lacked both the aptitude for it, and had an intense dislike of students. To be fair, most were not like this, and there were a few truly excellent ones. But to make the argument that they are all highly trained, excellent professions is a bit of a stretch.

It's part of why teachers now generally stay in particular grade levels, rather than following the students or teaching multiple levels as was once standard. They become experts on the pedagogical content knowledge of their particular level, so they can apply years of experience to solving the unique challenges each kid has.

Most homeschoolers I know (I was homeschooled) would agree that its not for everyone. If you don't feel that you have the time or aptitude to teach then you should look for an alternative. Its a big commitment, both financially and in time spent.

That being said, you don't need to know all the material on day one. My mother did not know algebra when she taught it to my older brother the first time. She simply worked through the book a few lessons ahead of us, and if we ran into a problem we really couldn't answer, she reached out to friends and/or family who might be able to help. And I'm sure that wasn't the first or last time she encountered material that was new to her.

There are a significant number of resources and support organizations that can provide material, lesson plans, cooperative support, and many other things for those who aren't experts in a given field. I know many groups who collectively trade subjects leaning on friends who have a particular specialization.

If you teach your child how to learn on their own, they will be able to, at some point, take over their own education. That's what happen with myself and my two brothers. We all started taking primary responsibility for learning as we matured, and going into high school only occasionally leaned on our mom for assistance in a given subject.

The important thing here isn't that you as a parent know everything, but that you as a parent are willing to leverage the resources at your disposal and to invest time in learning when you need it.

Yes, I suspect this would depend quite a bit on both the quality of the parent as a teacher, as well as the "real" teacher we're comparing against. I've seen shocking extremes in either direction, for both individuals. I might be a bit biased in one direction, as my parents (and broader family in general) are quite knowledgeable, and could easily outdo the average teacher (as a broad average over the ones I encountered - full public school education in two different countries) on just about any topic, let alone their own areas of specialty.

It might have a worse fool to student ratio.

I find this trained educator comment awkward. For universities the main thing needed to be a professor is a PhD. While graduate programs will often require some amount of TAing (typically two semesters) that's not universally true in the US. You can complete a PhD in some schools without ever TAing. And then as applying to be a professor is judged at most schools mainly by your research and not your teaching experience it is conceivable to teach a class without prior study of teaching. The more typical case is you have been a TA for a couple semesters. I don't really consider that a high bar. My college allowed undergrads to TA for classes and I did that mostly for fun. Is that enough for me to be considered an effective teacher? I'd lean towards no, but it's pretty comparable to what graduate students typically would end up having.

As for education at high schools/middle schools, that also really depends. States usually have a teaching certificate/degree as needed, but sometimes a math degree is fine for teaching a math class even if you haven't taken any classes on education. Typically this happens in cases where there's a shortage of teachers for a subject. It doesn't help that a lot of states pay pretty mediocre for teachers.

I can say personally one of the high schools I went to, most if not all of the teachers had not done a degree in education and their background was pretty much entirely having studied the associated subject in college. I think for my other high school my teachers typically had education backgrounds, but even there I remember my chemistry teacher did not (she happened to be excellent anyway). My chemistry teacher had a chemical engineer background instead and wound up choosing to teach.

Extra anecdote I know my dad has been teaching for decades now as a professor, but back when he got his PhD he never TAed. He had 0 teaching experience/education until he taught his first class. I think TA requirements are less common in europe which is where got his PhD, although he did get it awhile ago so maybe things have changed since then.

I'm American and I was home schooled by my parents out of Ideological incentives. I also know a lot of home schooled families. My experience is anecdotal but real and somewhat informed.

Home schooling has a number of outsize advantages that neither public nor private school has:

* Individualized attention and instruction especially in the early grades.

* An emphasis on self learning and self instruction in the later grades.

* It is more time efficient allowing young children more time for play.

* It encourages development of social skills by imitating adults not you peers. In my particular circle of home schooled children this resulted in being more comfortable holding a conversation with other adults and in general less problematic social behaviors with other children.

* In many of our cases including my own personal case it resulted in a better education than the public school was capable of providing. (I was on the path to failing if my parents had not intervened in this way.)

The trade off is that our family had to be single income for most of my childhood and thus very low income. We were poor though I didn't know it at the time. My mom and dad had to sacrifice quite a bit to make it work. Home schooling requires a large investment in money and time to be done efectively.

I by no means think that home schooling is for everyone. My wife and I had to choose a different route for our family due to a number of personal circustances. However for those who are prepared and capable of doing what it takes it can be a superior education for many children.

I also do not think that public school is evil. It's an incredible tool to empower people to better themselves. But like homeschooling it's effectiveness is a function of the community and society they are in being willing to make the tradeoffs and sacrifices needed to have an effective education system.

For those families who are in a society where that is not the case home schooling can provide a way out where there might not have been any other way.

"It encourages development of social skills by imitating adults not you peers. In my particular circle of home schooled children this resulted in being more comfortable holding a conversation with other adults and in general less problematic social behaviors with other children."

When learning a language, the worst thing you can do is practice with fellow learners. It encourages propagation of mistakes, and can result in a miniature broken dialect among your group. I can see an argument that socialization is similar.

Of the children and adults I have met who were home schooled, most were inquisitive, thoughtful and open people which I found to be a stark contrast to those who were educated in institutions.

I believe that a side benefit of home education is that the process does not destroy a persons respect for learning and accomplishment.

There is a massive selection bias at play. People who need both parents working, and single parents, cannot homeschool. School is largely a matter of resources, whether it is a traditional school or homeschool.

And if you’ve never met a religious homeschooler then your sample size is quite skewed. According to the Department of Education they account for more than 66% of homeschoolers.

Outside of a few affluential areas, public school is dismal. I took the most advanced class for literature in my high school, and one of the projects was to decorate a book cover out of a cereal box. This was called "AP Literature" and was supposed to effectively be a collegiate-level class.

Interesting Caveat

affluential = affluent + influential


There is a definition of caveat that means portmanteau?

huh, TIL. interesting

...so? There is nothing in that description that is alarming. Sounds like a fun and creative project to show what you know, while giving less-verbal learners a chance to express themselves differently than an essay. I wish I went to your school!

The project wasn't chosen in order to assist less-verbal learners, it's because it was a school in an impoverished area where elementary teachers drank alcohol during work and the building itself hadn't had any renovations since the 1970's. No one gave a shit, and they didn't challenge their students, and many of them ended up with barely grade-school level knowledge by the time they graduated. You do not wish that you went to that school.

In case I wasn't clear in the above - if you went to school in a middle or upper class area, count your lucky stars, and consider the fact that your experience may not be representative of everyone's.

Many public school programs are set up more as 'day care for older kids' than 'a place for kids to learn'. It's highly dependent on what part of a city/county you live in, at least in the US, as to whether you'll have a healthy/positive learning environment in a school.

In addition to the other problems GP describes, top-level literature classes should not include "less-verbal learners."

> socializing

This is probably the biggest factor.

I can't imagine being schooled and not being socially mal-adjusted.

The big problem is that most of the socializing we know, is never explicitly taught, rather it's implicitly imprinted on us as we go through the same stages of life. Skip one of those, and it becomes immediately visible.

In a less egregious example, in Grad School, it took less than an hour of knowing someone to intuit if they have ever had to share their private space with someone else before. (ie. if they dormed in UG or shared rooms growing up). Similarly, spending your formative years in a non-standard environments leads to mannerisms that people similarly pick up on. Often, the differences are not taken kindly.

This argument crops up pretty often when the subject of homeschooling is brought up. I'm not sure I understand it really.

Socialization has never been the exclusive domain of the School Building/Environment. I would expect the most significant factor in any person's socialization skills would be the parents, as those are the people the child spends most the first 6 years of their life interacting with. And that doesn't change when a child goes to school. They'll still spend a more significant amount of time around their own family than with other people.

And who says that a school building is the only place that a child is going to encounter people who aren't in their own family? Churches, sports, a child's own neighborhood, and a wide array of social opportunities exist outside of school yards and classrooms. All offer opportunities for a child to encounter people who are different from them.

And, though anecdotal, I have met just as many socially maladjusted people who have gone to public or private schools as I have in the homeschool communities I've been a part of.

"Because that's how everyone else does it," or "other people will think you're weird if you're different," don't seem like very good reasons to mandate a society-wide rule on how to raise a child. Not to mention those arguments would have precluded the development of classroom schooling itself in the first place.

You are just saying the idea of public schools align with your ideological incentives.

A lot of schools function effectively as childcare for parents to go to work (or do their own thing). You can hear that in what some parents are saying now that schools are closed.

You can get more effective education from a couple of hours employing an educator to work 1-1 or in small groups; you can get more effective socializing from going to sports and hobby clubs which don't have to be segregated by age and where you can leave if it isn't working out - this teaches you how to value your time.

> You can hear that in what some parents are saying now that schools are closed.

This. I haven't read a single comment on Facebook from anyone complaining that their kids will get less knowledge this year.

One obvious benefit of home schooling is that it protects children from pandemics. Mark my words, there will be more pandemics in the coming years. Maybe the next disease will hit children harder, and the quality of a child's education doesn't matter so much if they're dead. (Even if it hits adults harder, your family dying is often a serious distraction from education.)

If this flailing response from the US gov't is typical, we can expect incompetence and denial to make coordinated response to outbreaks impossible. Even a sane administration would have limited options without universal healthcare, a strong social safety net so that people can survive without jobs, and dare I say a Green New Deal to drive the economy and avoid the next catastrophe.

Antibiotic resistance is a looming threat to modern healthcare, and covid-19 may worsen it: https://www.wired.com/story/covid-19-may-worsen-the-antibiot... If antibiotics lose their effectiveness, the world will not be the same.

It's also not possible to understate the threat of the potential spread of anti-science sentiment, including anti-vaxxers. Good policies could be defeated by enough people simply refusing to follow them.

TL;DR: The benefit of home schooling protecting people from disease will remain relevant.

Or some people will realize that remote work isn’t for them and others that hadn’t previously considered it will realize that it does work for them. I’ve been remote for 8 or so years now and in terms of work this pandemic period doesn’t feel different. So that leads me to believe that there will be other people who were previously working from an office but also have a space in their home that is conducive to remote work will decide that they want to continue working this way.

That describes my case quite well. I'd still prefer to be in an office or coworking space, but I've learned that I'm still capable of getting work done at home.

I might look at working remotely more often after this is over. My commute isn't bad, around 30 minutes (half of it's walking, which is nice to stretch my legs), but it might be nice to work from home just to have my own space and wear nothing but underpants for a day or two a week.

It would also be nice to go on some "workations", visiting another city/country and working during the week and doing vacation things in the evenings and weekend. I've got friends and family I want to visit, but I only get 4 weeks of paid leave a year. Most of them also work during the week so it would be a good way to spend my time.

> It would also be nice to go on some "workations", visiting another city/country and working during the week and doing vacation things in the evenings and weekend.

I haven’t visited other countries, but I do working visits every other month when I see my family. Best benefit is keeping normal structure/routine while having more time to visit.

I've done some WFH days each week in the past and been quite productive. I've been doing quarantine work for 7 weeks now and I feel like it's fucking with my head and I can barely get any work done. This sucks. I'm considering asking for a week or 2 of unpaid vacation.

The biggest challenge for me is that I've lost that sense of urgency in banging out action items. I don't have the looming deadline of getting in the car to start my commute helping to motivate me throughout the day. Now, I'm like, eh why not watch another random YouTube video, I'll just take care of that critical task later today. Before I realize it's 6pm and I still have a couple hours of work to complete before I can log off. (Haven't made up my mind yet if the extra "quarantine whiskey" is helping or hurting)

Getting into a good work pattern is very difficult. It's also hard to push yourself to communicate to the level that is required when you are at home. I've been working remotely for the last 5 years (and before that I'd done another 2 year stint a long time ago). WFH days are basically the optimal situation for a programmer I think -- you get some good time to put your head down without distractions. Full time remote can be like sensory deprivation if you don't know how to deal with it.

One of the things that a lot of people used to say before the pandemic was that chatting on Slack is wasting time. However, without something like Slack your productivity can just go down to zero. To be fair, I'm completely happy with IRC. I'm also completely happy with email. But you need to be spending time typing out those thoughts and receiving thoughts from your teammates. It seems counter-productive, but it's really important.

Especially because I'm 9 timezones away from my colleagues it's particularly tough -- there is nobody to chat to when I'm working. So what I do is just start a monologue on IRC. I start a thread (if I'm being kind... sometimes I forget) and I just type what I'm doing: "I've started story X. I ran into problem A, but I fixed it with technique T. Boy this part of the code stinks. What do you guys think about refactoring next time we get a chance? WTH??? How does B work? It just looks borken. Oh... Derp. I figured it out. I thought it did R, but actually it does S".

This makes a massive difference. One thing it does is show your colleagues what you are doing. It also shows them that you are doing something. It also forces you to do something even when you don't feel like it. But it also allows your colleagues to join your monologue and turn it into a dialog (I wonder if it used to be spelled dialogue...). Even if they only type "LOL! I know, right? That code is the worst!" it's enough. Someone has touched you. Someone cares.

In the best cases you get, "Oh wait! You need to do Y when you do that otherwise the data will be corrupt" followed by, "Hey, let's get together in chat and take a look at this together". Because otherwise you get your PR in and people are shitting all over it and you think everybody hates you (and they feel exactly the same way). In the absence of information, the mind imagines a hostile environment. I don't know why, but it just seems to work that way. So if people are not regularly touching minds, then you just end up getting more and more grouchy.

Taking some vacation can help to get your head in a better place, but just make sure that you look at your work situation and realise that you need to change it to make it better. Thinking that you will work harder (or better) and that it will solve the problem is the typical mistake. Once you have a work habit that works for you, it will not be difficult. You do not need to work harder or concetrate better. You need to work differently.

Hope that helps you out. Feel free to email me if you would like other pointers. The way you seem to be feeling is really common and I have a lot of experience with it ;-)

I think now, a lot more companies will be open to it, and will be prepared for it. I know many companies who have maintained they REALLY need onsite, but now realizing that wasn't actually a hard requirement. I'm sure some are having negative experiences. Also I think it is actually easier with everyone remote rather than some in office and some remote.

> but now realizing that wasn't actually a hard requirement.

There's going to be a lot of that. I know a couple people working in big orgs where major decisions like going paperless on certain forms -- which they had begged for for years, and had numerous meetings to work out how they could ever be paperless, and what the path to get there would look like, target dates, etc. -- suddenly happened one day to the next, because it had to be done.

Will be interesting to look at business management changes in the future. What do decisions look like if you just say they simply have to happen?

> Also I think it is actually easier with everyone remote rather than some in office and some remote.

I agree with that and would add that I think a huge part of the difficulty comes from a rift in culture. If a CEO does not consciously make an effort bridge the culture between remote and in-office work, it creates a strange divide that chokes collaboration and can even be catastrophic to turnover.

Having a mix of remote and non-remote can work great, just keep in mind there's a particularly difficult dynamic that will constantly need management and maintenance.

Speaking as someone who works remotely on a team that is only partially remote, the pandemic has made my life considerably easier. Suddenly all of the water cooler talks have evaporated and I'm on an even footing with everyone else. A colleague was also saying that he normally hates remote, but he's been finding it quite nice this time -- because the entire business has to communicate this way.

Still it's hard for people who aren't used to it.

It's worth distinguishing between homeschooling and the current situation of "at-home schooling" or remote schooling, which is quite a different beast.

My kids are being schooled by their teachers remotely, not by me - this process has little in common with "traditional homeschooling" other than the room it happens in, everything else is different.

> people will think that this is what remote work is like

Oh man, this is the truest thing I've heard since the quarantine started.

I loved that my team had a flexible WFH policy year round. On days with chores, I could stay at home and get some work done. I could travel while working. If I work up late or on the wrong side of the bed, I could avoid the trouble of dressing up and just login while brewing myself a coffee.

But now, I hate it. I've realized, I love remote work precisely because I can work from the office the rest of the time. The loss of productivity, communication and socialization doesn't feel like much if it is 1 day a week.

But, all the time. God No!

Just curious, what exactly is not representative?

For me personally, I can do my work just fine, I just miss being around other my coworkers and having a clear separation between my work environment and my home environment. I look forward to returning to my office when it's possible.

>I just miss being around other my coworkers

One outcome I expect will be fairly common is that some subset of people will happily rush back to the office as soon as it's safe to do so. And they'll find out that many of their coworkers aren't in nearly as big a hurry to shift back to the office full-time and will shift to continue working remotely a significant percentage of the time.

Will depend on the company and the work of course. But I suspect that people who really like to have their whole team physically with them on a day-to-day basis aren't going to like the shift that will happen in many cases.

Given the context of the article, one obvious difference is regarding kids.

For example, I had a good experience working from home before Covid 2-3 days of the week while the kids were at school and kindergarten; however, in the current circumstances the work from home is very, very different due to the need to combine it with doing childcare at the same time.

I mean, consider evaluating the merits and drawbacks of working in an office during a mandated "bring your kids to the office" day.

I'm more optimistic. I think there will be quite a lot of people who try home schooling for the first time and are pleasantly surprised. Doubly so for remote work.

Of course some people will hate it, but horses for courses.

I've been wfh for the last 12 months and now people are telling me "you said it aint that bad, but it's terrible", and yeah it's been terrible to be wfh AND isolated. This should not count as a real experience for anyone.

I honestly don't understand how home schooling is supposed to work. I mean, primary school maybe (though even there I seriously doubt the capacity of most parents, but whatever, we could handle that). But secondary school & beyond? Like, we're lucky that we can explain path, physics, chemistry, grammar to our kids & help them, but we struggle on some of the subjects (& gave up on others - e.g. chemistry - at highschool level). But it's one thing to help them on some subjects - and a whole different things to be able to actively teach everything: not only those, but history, geography, foreign languages, arts, music etc - that's far more than one full-time job! The only reason why teachers are able to do it is that they teach a single subject (to an entire classroom). Yeah, in primary school you (mostly) have a single teacher for the class, so home-schooling is plausible. But beyond that, I just don't understand it.

Kids who are homeschooled their whole lives quickly get used to learning from a textbook rather than a teacher. Furthermore, homeschooling textbooks are written with this in mind, and tend to be more easily accessible without a teacher present relative to mainstream textbooks. I know that by the time our child was in 2nd grade he was already doing most of his lessons without any adult intervention, calling on us only when he didn't understand something. I imagine that by the time he reached high school he would have had no trouble tackling something like Chemistry without trouble.

Furthermore, it's not uncommon for homeschooling groups to arrange to have adult tutors for some subjects, especially in the higher grades.

My kids don't really learn without some form of supervision and/or encouragement - what I have seen times and times again is kids learning from textbooks on _some_ subject, which it typically after a good teacher created interest for said subject.

> I know that by the time our child was in 2nd grade he was already doing most of his lessons without any adult intervention,

You're very fortunate. For my kids that kinda/ sorta true for the high-school one. And from what I've seen, they're not the exception. It even gets worse with teenage children, because they'll challenge your authority - so while they may work on stuff that teachers gave them, they won't easily take suggestions from you (e.g. what to study, for the high-school exams).

Adopting homeschooling as the way to educate your children involves a paradigm shift on a number of fronts.

You switch to being a single income family.

One parent, most usually the mother, gives up their career progression for the duration of their children's education.

Actual homeschooling isn't that difficult for the simple reason that there is a massive amount of resources available online - from distance learning organisations or individual tutors offering tuition on specific subjects, to distance learning organisations handling the whole curriculum, to mixing and matching DIY learning together with enlisting the help of distance learning organisations for more 'difficult' subjects - think Maths, Chemistry and Physics (the route we took).

It just depends on how deep your pockets are and your level of commitment i.e. if the homeschooling parent is willing to put in the hours to prep ahead of lessons or they'd prefer to leave it all up to a distance learning organisation and they just act as the facilitator.

We're currently putting our two girls through UK GCSEs, it's a mix of my wife teaching them English and a couple of others subjects and me teaching them Computer Studies, and us then also paying for online tuition in Spanish and the services of a local Music teacher.

I provide remote tutoring professionally but as a sole trader, and I'm quite interested in what your experience is (good and bad) of distance learning organisations.

If you, as a (presumably) successful graduate of a public school system, can't understand the textbooks and other modern resources well enough to help your own child learn basic chemistry, what did you actually get out of your public school education? And why would you want to send your child to spend years of their life there?

It's one thing to thoughtfully decide that it is best for your family to outsource education for various reasons. It's quite another to think that it is, by default, impossible to do it yourself.

Because just because I'm a computer scientist doesn't mean that my child can't be a doctor or chemist. I haven't touched organic chemistry in 20years+ ... is it really surprising that it'd take me a lot to understand? I don't have the same amount of time to invest in (re-)learning everything.

> It's quite another to think that it is, by default, impossible to do it yourself.

It's not, if they chose the same career path as I did, or my wife did. But I don't see how we could plausibly expose them to different options. Case in point - the older child plans to study architecture; the exam involves quite specialized drawing skills. Both of us would have extremely limited knowledge to guide her.

Your average high school chemistry teacher has a chemistry degree. They didn’t just take one class in chemistry in high school and become an expert.

This is a ridiculous comparison. There are a lot of things I took a class or two in that I am not qualified to teach.

Most people are not qualified to teach most subjects at s high level.

I’m a professor and there are only certain topics that I am an expert in. I could tech myself high school chemistry again, but it’s been a few decades.

What our child's secondary school is doing is giving lessons with Microsoft Teams on these kinds of subjects, then he has to do school work based on those lessons. We aren't required to "school" him at all actually. Our 6 year old on the other hand requires constant supervision and teaching for her material, and that stuff is of course quite manageable.


Tbh I’ve never liked homeschooling so that would be ok. But agree with you on remote work.

Agreed. Both are not representative of what they actually are because of the context!

Really? Because it seems to me like the only thing people are going to realize is having kids to take care of 24/7 is a real pain in the ass, and maybe we shouldn’t be having so many.

I’d say the majority of people who are still employed and have no kids are having a fairly pleasant time at home.

Relatively speaking, yes. But even under the best circumstances, it's still draining. I just worry that it will color their perception of remote work.

School is designed to force kids to grow in areas they do not naturally enjoy.

True. But it also teaches kids to work on schedule, follow rules, and do what they're told.

Whether that's beneficial or not is open to interpretation.

These are the de facto rules of living in society. You may criticise the rules themselves but you can't really criticise teaching the rules, you have to give kids the tools they need to navigate in a society, once they know what the default rules are they're free to expand and/or break them.

School is, for the vast majority of kids, a good framework for life.

It depends on how those rules are taught. If students are merely informed about or given examples of the rules and expectations, I would consider that to be more beneficial and neutral than my experience, which was to be harshly informed of these rules as if they were absolute necessities for existence, and punished excessively for alleged violations.

I was aiming for neutrality ;)

Back when public schooling started in the US, I gather that it was about preparation for factory work. And military service, I guess.

But I do agree with the dead comment that it tends to kill off creativity, curiosity and playfulness.

I don't know if it kills off those things, so much as make things unpleasant for people possessing them. You can very well end up with those traits intact at the other end of a high school education, you just won't like it. Then thankfully, the format and contents of a college course tends to be a little more amenable to those types.

I think it does, in the sense that people in the middle of the curve get used to not using them, which affects their work negatively.

Though it does suck to work in modern society without those qualities, or at least to be able to fake them.

Sounds like a great way to beat the hacker out of a hacker teen

Forces them to "learn" things they dislike and will never use in adulthood.

In early January, I broke my ankle and worked from home for something like 5 weeks. My job is software development and support for a manufacturing company, so I normally spend a fair amount of time on the production floor dealing with issues. That month, without kids at home during the day, things were way different than the last month. January was super productive, but I was also couch-bound for the most part.

Lately I've been working a couple hours in the morning, then a lot more after the kids go to bed a few nights per week.

We started the first week of the stay-at-home order here with a 6 hour/day schedule for the kids (including reading time, neighborhood walk, etc), but that fell apart after about 4 days.

At this point, we try to have them do something fairly educational in the morning for an hour or two, and then just let them play. We've only barely touched the surface of what the teachers are sending us. Obviously this isn't going to put them behind, being 5 and 7 years old. The Zoom meetings with their teachers are mostly just to stay connected to their friends, and I think that is completely fine.

This morning, my 7 year old learned about calculating area by figuring out how many pieces of yarn she'd need for a "latch kit" rug thing. She didn't even know she was learning math!

“Reading and writing are the most important skills” Interesting I think the same but my 8 yo girl says she enjoys doing math more: story problem, xtramath and IXL seem to occupy her more than reading and writing, except reading comics I would say.

Reading comics is still reading. Any reading is good at that age. Your brain needs the time to build up the pattern recognition engine :-)

Amen - just focus on being your child's parent, the rest is details.

Children are a lot more resilient than we give them credit for, they will bounce back education-wise.

Plus, even the adults are struggling to maintain productivity. Stressful times are not conducive to consistent performance.


This comment seems really extreme and over-the-top. Most parents are not professional educators, and even many professionals would struggle to take over an entire curriculum on short notice, mid-semester.

That doesn't make them unfit parents!

> Ensure your child is happy and healthy. Those are the most important measurements.

A cat, a goldfish or even a houseplant are 'healthy and happy'.

I'm hoping we as human beings strive to move beyond a simple vegetable existence.

Can you really prove that a houseplant is happy or that "we" can make them happy?

That would be interesting.

Being unhappy causes a variety of issues that effect your cognitive ability. Humans simply perform better when they are happy.

I never said that being happy is not needed. 'Happy' is a baseline for existence, not a goal to strive for.

> 'Happy' is a baseline for existence

How do you define happiness ? If "happy" is the baseline for existence a lot of us don't even exist.

Some people spent their lives working on this very topic:



> 'Happy' is a baseline for existence

Unfortunately it is not.

It's one of the most common goals in life, but it's not so widespread as one might think.

Many live non-happy lives, still exist and still try to make their lives better, one way or another.

The problem is that homeschooling and schooling in a classroom environment are two fundamentally different things. Tasking parents with mimicking a school environment and school schedule at home is a recipe for failure that teaches parents that they can’t teach their kids.

We have been homeschooling our eldest son for a year now and can never imagine going back to full time school. It has brought an immense amount of freedom and bonding to our family, not to mention an incredible amount of life experience for him with various activities (grocery shopping, museums, parks, hikes, etc). However, it was miserable to start primarily because we tried to mimic the exact school environment and schedule at home; a complete disaster! Schools are designed to teach a large amount of children; parents and homes are designed to teach individual children.

Would you use an entire cafeteria kitchen to cook lunch for your kids?

You have to remember, the main purpose of school is to provide babysitting so all of the adults can work and keep the economy humming.

If you take a hard look at the time spent during school, you will see tons of filler. If you were _only_ going for schooling, you wouldn't need homeroom, lunch, PE (get your activity at home), and several subjects.

Not to mention, at home you can tailor the lessons to your kids, and you don't keep getting interrupted because some kids out of 30 in your classroom are being disruptive.

> You have to remember, the main purpose of school is to provide babysitting so all of the adults can work and keep the economy humming.

I know this is a popular opinion but it’s ahistorical. Compulsory education was introduced in the late 1800s when about half of Americans still worked in agriculture, by far the largest sector of the economy at the time. Most families did not need childcare outside their home.

Today, school ends well before the professional workday does—pretty poor childcare.

The fact is that the main purpose of school is to educate kids, which is necessary to prepare them to live in a complex society. But, to teach kids you also have to care for them, hence the “fillers” like lunch and exercise.

Sadly, it’s true that for some kids, school is a major source of food and care in their lives. This is a failing of society, not of schools specifically.

> at home you can tailor the lessons to your kids, and you don't keep getting interrupted because some kids out of 30 in your classroom are being disruptive.

Which is why it’s legal to home school your kids if you want to, even when there is not a global pandemic. :-)

> The fact is that the main purpose of school is to educate kids, which is necessary to prepare them to live in a complex society.

90% of secondary school is not necessary for living in modern society.

As long as you can do arithmetic, percentages and fractions and can read and write? You've got all you need really.

If you want particular jobs there may be extra requirements of course.

I couldn't disagree more. Modern democracies only work if large parts of the population are educated enough to hold informed opinions on matters of public policy, at least in the topics they care about. A lot of the problems we see today can fundamentally be attributed to the failure of reaching that goal and leaving room for demagogues, misinformation and outright lies to manipulate people into voting against their own interest and the common good.

As you point out, school fails horrifically at this goal.

It teaches a huge amount of stuff in a manner that does not help at all in forming opinions on public policy while failing to instil the most important basics, such as an understanding of sampling bias and appreciation for nation-level scale.

> Which is why it’s legal to home school your kids if you want to

This is far from universal btw.

> the main purpose of school is to provide babysitting so all of the adults can work and keep the economy humming

This point has been especially proven by the fact that a lot of countries right now have reopened schools, but only for children whose parents can't supervise them at home because they have jobs that require them onsite still.

That just proves that school also provides babysitting. Which is a good and great thing, there should be more of that.

It does not proves that is the purpose of the school is babysitting. Moreover, schools are currently doing online education for kids at home. As flawed as it is and as it requires involvement of parent, it is organized by the school.

Then there's the rest of us, couples who both have to work 8hrs / day from home as well as look after 2 young children. It's really tough.

> you don't keep getting interrupted because some kids out of 30 in your classroom are being disruptive.

That depends on if you have multiple children and one starts flipping out.

Overall your point is pretty valid though

Is this a bad thing? Birth rates in developed countries are low as is. Take away the free day care and they will likely drop further.

> and you don't keep getting interrupted because some kids out of 30 in your classroom are being disruptive.

and you will grow up unprepared to real life facts, such as people interrupting.

Precisely. We have homeschooled our three kids from the beginning and learned a lot. It only takes a few hours to go through the curriculum for three kids of different ages. It might take a bit longer if they are being difficult or going thru a new concept but rarely. After that we have various activities around the house / neighborhood they will participate in on their own. We would also have activities outside the house, piano lessons, P.E. classes with other homeschooled kids etc. They are kept fairly busy but not with the busy work you would typically find in public schools.

How did you manage 3 at once from the beginning?

We're debating what to do come August. We have a 5 year old entering Kindergarten. We live in a good school district, but we don't want to be part of an experiment as they figure out how to do online learning. Online learning for 5 year olds sounds disastrous too. So we've thought of trying home schooling.

The thing is, that 5 year old comes with twin 2 year olds. And the 5 year old has a huge attitude when dealing with us, but not teachers. She is way more productive when it comes to learning stuff in pre-school than with us because she flat out ignores us at least half the time. Can't imagine how my wife would manage that along with twin toddlers running around destroying everything.

Days are already frustrating as hell for her. A majority of the day is spent with at least one of them crying over something. Trying to stack learning on top of it sounds like a recipe for bad times.

Edit: especially with social distancing. Any other time we could lean on grandparents or local families in similar situations. Right now we can't. Not everyone can use extended family in normal times, much less the current problems we're facing.

I was home educated from the age of 11, until the age of 18. I knew about 50 - 150 home educated children, among those I knew of only a couple that couldn't read or write.

The one, couldn't read or write until the age of 8 or 9, when his mum found books under his pillow he had decided to learn because he liked the subject matter, she left him alone and provided help when he asked, and within 7 months he could read and write and was completely and utterly fluent, moreso than some adults I have met who have a complete schooling.

The other, was not much of a reader, and was barely fluent, picked up reading and writing at around 9. He read lord of the rings at around the same age (10 or 11) and ripped through the series in a handful of months.

A lot of people treat learning as something you have to sit the child down to do, but that cannot be further from the truth were they removed from the exposure of school.

Personally for you I would look up Autonomous Home Education, and Unschooling. Children are extremely gifted at learning -- I mean, they're built to learn -- and if left to mostly their own devices (which is extremely terrifying at first), and occasional passive action (like say, buying interesting books, not communicating it, and leaving it on the shelf to be discovered -- brains are good at picking up when the environment changes C: ), they will find interest in learning and discovering subjects of their own accord.

(Do note, however, that many parents find that you have to give them a rest from learning and allow them to recover from the stress of school and discover their own rhythms! the average is 6 months, in my case because of a mathematics teacher that got me so stressed out I was unable to perform the act of adding up numbers in my head, it was 2 years!)

And even if they don't, a lot of people treat childhood as the absolute holy grail of learning -- if you don't understand it as a child you are doomed! However think about how much adults could learn if they decided they wanted to make a concrete effort, muted the distractions, and sat down for 2 hours total a week? They cannot because they find learning to be a chore! Ultimately your job as a parent is to make sure the adult that forms is capable and able to continue to learn. At best, schools fail disastrously at this, at worst, they actually hinder and set the resulting adult against learning forever more.

To clarify: By "Barely fluent" I mean to say that the second child mentioned was barely fluent at reading and writing, not that he was barely fluent in English as a whole.

In order to be successful with multiple children, you need to find a balance between self study (worksheet) and teaching. The younger the children, the more hands on you need to be. You need to figure out a good rotation so they are not all waiting for time with you.

It takes some adjustment because they may be used to having you full time. You can also start your 3 year old doing "school work". They can look at books, play with toys, watch leapfrog letter factory, color a page, etc.

The other thing to remember is that a 5 year old with attitude is always better than a 15 year old with an attitude. If you don't deal with it now, you are just going to push it off till they are older.

Note: we homeschool our 5 kids.

We had kids aged 2/5/7 at home while we were working in recent weeks; schools stayed open here in South Australia but many who could work remotely pulled their kids out as a precaution.

The 7yo is fine. 5yo is learning to read and can look after herself with some programs but needed help now and then - she also learns better with teachers. The 2yo disrupts everything unless you put her in front of an iPad for hours on end. The older two went back to school today and the 2yo back in childcare a couple of days a week. Depending on your work situations, I'd suggest leaning on formal schooling and get the 2yos in childcare a day a week to get a break for work or even just catching up around the house.

I think it'd be difficult to do the 5yo's homeschooling justice with 2yos helping.

I'm in this situation too; in VIC, Australia with 3/5/8 year olds. It's the 3yo who's hardest to deal with by an enormous amount. Given that the situation in Australia is about as under control as it's possible for it to be, I'm quite confident that schools will re-open within six months. And my gut feel is that we as a family would be better off (mentally, emotionally, and quite possibly even educationally) by treating this as a holiday from formal schooling rather than trying to make this work across such varied ages.

Schools are open here and I would've thought they'd open sooner than six months in Victoria?

The problem with treating it as a holiday holiday is that campgrounds are closed, restaurants and attractions are closed. So it's a home-bound holiday heading into winter. Otherwise I'd happily get the kids out of school again and drag them around AU or even just SA.

That said, you could just do 3-6 months of mucking around at home. Cooking, gardening, stay up late, informal learning, projects. I don't think kids would be catastrophically worse off from something like that.

I don't have any advice on homeschooling but I can sympathize with your kiddo situation (ours are 12, 10, 10). It can be rough with 3 that close in age, sometimes you just do what you need to so you can get through the day. You've probably already learned this but making loose plans with plenty of flexibility built in is key. At any one time 1 kid may be doing what they're supposed to (if you're lucky), 1 kid will be wandering off randomly, and 1 kid will be possessed by Satan. Hour two, they rotate. Good luck brother, you'll get through it and make sure to enjoy the crazy, chaotic, awesome times along the way cause before you know it, you'll be shipping them off to college.

I feel your pain. We have a 5 year old and twin 3 year olds. Our 5 year old will be entering K this fall too. Though, who knows what exactly that will look like. Right now the school which our 5 year old attends is having 45 min zoom calls with each pre-school class twice a week. It's not the same as having a whole day of activities and socializing but I respect what they have managed to do with the constraints that they are dealing with. Outside of that we've been reading to them a lot. But, there is a special force of nature weight that the twins somehow wield. And that is just tough. The way we've tried to spin that is to attempt to inspire them by feeding whatever their latent interests seem to be at the moment. And get that momentum in a productive direction. It does not always work.

That’s been the hardest part for us the last few weeks. The older 2 you can manage and get them to sit down to learn something, it’s the 1yo running around being distracting that makes it hard. 9, 6 and 1.5 = children with very different needs.

You don't have to wait until a certain date to try — there is nothing magical about August or September that makes it a good time to start learning.

Do you have any concerns about your son’s social development? If so, how do you address these? Personally, I would be worried about accidentally isolating my kids and causing them to miss out on certain soft skills.

- martial arts class gives (non-parent) teacher-student setting w/ same-age peers

- play groups gives play time w/ mixed-age kids

- piano lesson gives (non-parent) teacher-student setting

- living every day life has child interact with adults for various things (e.g. ask the cashier if they have X for you to buy)

- tight knit parish community gives very diverse age range (babies, toddlers, teens, seniors, etc) for both play, service, hikes, etc

- siblings close in age

Full disclosure, I was very skeptical of homeschooling to start and am myself a product of one of the best Bay Area private schools. I only chose to give homeschooling a try as I had a flexible remote-work situation and thus a year of not being tied to a school schedule seemed worth a shot. It has been a success beyond my imagination and my son is not only ahead of where I expected scholastically, but also socially.

How do you mix work and homeschooling? How many hours do you work / week, and what do your kids do during that time?

Thanks for your response, I'm glad to hear things are going well. Judging by your response, your son seems to be (relatively) young--do you have any plans to reintroduce him into the schooling system during his high school years, e.g. for college preparation?

Also, where I live, driving around to all those activities would add up to a lot of time. I assume you live in a more urban area where those things are in close proximity/within walking distance?

Cool. I'm wondering though, personally I've had STEM teachers and met experts that have inspired me to do what I do now. Have you introduced things like science/robotics clubs to him? If it's not a secret. I'm just very curious.

Do you have any concerns about the social development of kids who go to traditional schools, where they interact solely with other kids close to their own age or teachers who are much older than them and whose interactions are rigid and artificial?

Sorry to sound snarky, but the idea that homeschool kids are somehow socially stunted is a myth that needs to die. If anything, it's the other way around. Homeschool kids are exposed to a much wider variety of social situations which develops a broad base of social skills and preparation for adult responsibility much more effectively than the stifling and artificial environment of public schools does.

> Sorry to sound snarky, but the idea that homeschool kids are somehow socially stunted is a myth that needs to die.

I'm sorry, but it's not a myth. It's something that can and does happen in many cases, depending pretty much entirely on the attitude of the parents. I was homeschooled. My religious parents viewed it as an opportunity to shelter me from the evils of the world. I now have social anxiety, difficulty relating to other people, an inability to make and keep friends, and several other mental health issues.

The majority of "homeschooled" students I knew (and know) were barely homeschooled - starting in middle school or high school, most of their classes were taught co-operatively by other homeschooling parents, or paid community college professors looking for some extra money. (I took several math and science classes this way.) Full homeschooling (where every single "class" from K-12 is done in the home) needs to be undertaken with extreme caution, if at all, especially when the kids get past grade school, and need to be hearing the ideas and input of peers as they relate to the things they are learning. The also need to be having social experiences with peers many times per week, which becomes very difficult even for dedicated parents.

Are social problems more prevalent amongst homeschooled kids, due to homeschooling?

We don't do education otherwise, we wanted to flexischool (UK) but the teachers vetoed it. However, we know quite a few families who homeschool and they have an incredible bunch of socially active, artistically skilled, intellectually capable kids. Socially, they seem to be ahead of other groups, to me, because (I contend) they get/got a lot of inter-age interaction. There's probably a lot of selection effects too.

My own kids seem, in contrast, to have gotten more out of clubs fitted in around schooling, as opposed to their socially fulfilling time seeming to be more co-terminous with educational experience.

One thing I'm concerned about with school is that up until 12yo the kids only regular day-time contact with men is the janitor ... it's a slightly orthogonal issue, but I guess in general "you can't pick your teachers" applies for most people and even in our pretty nice neighborhood a couple of the teachers have had lasting negative effects on our kids.

> Are social problems more prevalent amongst homeschooled kids, due to homeschooling?

My guess is yes, but I have no direct evidence of that. The thing I think I can say with certainty is that there's a long tail of parental effects on socialization for homeschooled kids. Very severely conservative or religious parents are very likely to have kids with these problems to a moderate or strong degree. And quite a few homeschooling parents in the United States are like this - you might very well be in a liberal or urban bubble if you don't see this in your local homeschooling community.

> My own kids seem, in contrast, to have gotten more out of clubs fitted in around schooling

I don't mean to sound like I'm totally opposed to homeschooling. I actually think it can be much better than public schools with the right parents, the right environment, the right amount of money, and so on. I'm not clear on exactly how old your kids are, but I would warn that I do think it's significantly harder to encourage the best social development once they become teenagers.

> a couple of the teachers

By "teachers" I assume this means you are hiring outside instructors or doing co-op classes with other homeschooling families where your kids and there kids are being taught at the same time. This is a very different kind of experience and not what I referred to as "full homeschooling" in another comment in this thread.

    It's something that can and does happen in many cases, depending pretty much entirely on the attitude of the parents.
Or, in other words, it's not actually the homeschooling that is the problem. It's the attitudes of the parents. And it turns out that when you have cruddy parents, public-school outcomes aren't good either.

Well, yes, but it has the important difference that being in public school can hardly fail but to give you a certain minimum level of social skills and in most cases one or two friends at least. And on the other hand being homeschooled by bad parents can hardly fail to have a bad outcome for you.

Also, can you use ">" to offset quotes instead of four spaces? Because HN uses that for code, it's not readable for mobile users.

Hmm, plenty of people have an awful time in state schools. Parents who are so bad they leave their kids to do their own education sometimes inadvertently give them a great environment in which to grow (but it seems super-rare). I think you're more right on this second part than on the first.

> plenty of people have an awful time in state schools

For sure, I'm not denying that, I'm just saying there's a difference between the possible outcome of having an awful time and being so socially abnormal that you get panicky talking to the cashier at the Burger King and can't make any friends.

In my experience, the worst possible outcomes in each case tip the other direction: I have never heard of a homeschool kid committing suicide because they were so unprepared for Burger King, but public school kids commit suicide because of how incredibly awful their social experience is all the time.

The absolute worst-case, most socially-awkward homeschooler I ever met ended up just fine after a couple of years of college, which fully made up for any socialization deficiencies he may have suffered from being isolated from his public school peers.


>Our preliminary research suggests that homeschooled children are at a greater risk of dying from child abuse than are traditionally schooled children.


>In a 2014 study published in the Journal of Child & Adolescent Trauma, Knox seemed to confirm that. Examining cases of severe and fatal child abuse, Knox found that 47 percent of the young victims had been removed from school to be home schooled

This is the sort of thing that is really subject to selection bias.

There were multiple sever abuse cases children in families where kids were homeschooled to cover abuse. It happens.

I can relate to your experience growing up homeschooled and dealing with social struggles as an adult. I don’t think homeschooling automatically leads to these issues, but I agree that there’s a risk and parents need to be mindful of the impact of their decisions.

I agree with everything you’re saying about social experiences. I think making sure kids have plenty of opportunities to interact with people outside of their immediate circle is super important. It’s just as doable with homeschooling as with traditional schooling but it requires more intentionality because it might not happen naturally in the same way.

On the other hand, I can understand the frustration that homeschooling parents feel when other people assume that homeschooling will cause their kids to grow up weird.

I’m also annoyed when a discussion about the pros and cons of choosing to homeschool one’s kids leads to people citing cases of child abuse (further down the thread; I’m not talking about any of your comments).

The fact that some parents homeschool as a cover for abuse isn’t relevant to my decision on whether or not homeschooling is a good path for my kids.

I plan to homeschool my kids. My parents did a decent job with me, but I can do much better with my kids (in part because of my experience with my parents’ choices).

I'm an only child and had plenty of adult interactions outside of public school. If I was homeschooled I would have been miserable, even if I met people through sports and other activities.

This site is filled with introverted engineers -- not exactly a representative sample. 3.4% of kids are homeschooled, 64% of which are doing so in order to provide religious instruction.

And I have no reason to doubt you. Homeschooling definitely isn't for everyone... but that is not the same as saying that homeschooling is across-the-board inferior to public schooling. Public schooling also isn't for everyone.

Can't agree more!

If you’re home-schooled, then how do you make childhood friends? How do you meet that dreamy girl, that you remember after all these years, just because she did something nice for you once.

Most friendships are based on serendipity and closeness and repeated interactions.

While public schooling does have its drawbacks, and some bad bullying scenarios (we’ve all been there), it also does have some good things. And you meet a variety of other kids, that comes from different walks of life, that may positively (or negatively) influence your own life.

Sure, you can supplement your kid’s social activities with going to church, or karate, or ballet, or piano, or other extracurricular activities, but it’s not quite the same.

Church, for one, is too cohesive, and results in groupthink. And that’s if you really want your kid to worship a bible, instead of understanding science. The other extracurricular activities on the other hand, lacks cohesion, that you don’t build lifelong friendships through that.

The other thing is, home-schooling tends to shelter your kids. You need them to build the toughness and mental resilience, from peer competition with other kids at school, in order to face the real world.

Because in the real world, you now compete with other adults, and a lot more is at stake. And you tend to learn these lessons along the way, as you grow up.

    If you’re home-schooled, then how do you make childhood friends? How do you meet that dreamy girl, that you remember after all these years, just because she did something nice for you once.
You meet kids in your co-op. Or in your extracurricular activities (if you don't have access to non-school-related options like karate classes, dance classes, community sports leagues, etc., plenty of school systems still permit homeschooled kids to register for their extracurricular programs). Or by hanging out with your parents' friends kids. Or by playing with other kids in the neighborhood after school.

   While public schooling does have its drawbacks, and some bad bullying scenarios (we’ve all been there), it also does have some good things. And you meet a variety of other kids, that comes from different walks of life, that may positively (or negatively) influence your own life.
Yes, it does. And for some people, public school is the best option. One of my sisters, for example, has a mix of kids in public school, private school, and homeschooling, because each of them has different needs and different approaches to schooling have ended up working out better for each child. But the fact that each option has its strengths does not mean that homeschooling is deficient.

    Sure, you can supplement your kid’s social activities with going to church, or karate, or ballet, or piano, or other extracurricular activities, but it’s not quite the same.
Of course it's not the same. That's the whole point. But "not the same" does not mean "worse".

    Church, for one, is too cohesive, and results in groupthink.
Depends on your church.

    And that’s if you really want your kid to worship a bible, instead of understanding science.
Again, depends on your church. I grew up in a religious family, and made many friends through church, but I still got degrees in two scientific fields, as did several of my siblings, and I don't think you could accuse any of us of "worshiping a bible" or "not understanding science".

    The other extracurricular activities on the other hand, lacks cohesion, that you don’t build lifelong friendships through that.
You have no evidence for that. My nieces and nephews, and homeschoolers I know of my own generation, would say exactly the opposite.

   The other thing is, home-schooling tends to shelter your kids.
No. Homeschooling is sometimes used as a tool b people who want to shelter their kids to give them greater control. But it does not in and of itself result in excessive sheltering. Some of my niblings have online homeschool classes with kids from all over the country, with way more diversity than they would get in their local public schools.

> Some of my niblings have online homeschool classes with kids from all over the country, with way more diversity than they would get in their local public schools.

Is an online class with a diverse crowd a sufficient replacement for actually going out, interacting, and being next to people of various racial, ethnic, religious, and economic backgrounds?

I've spent half of my life on online communities. If I went out into the world thinking the average person I interact with online was the same as the average person outside, I'd be very stunned by the reality and very ill-equipped. The types of people I encounter on Hacker News and other communities/groups I participate in online, well, I've almost never encountered similar people outside.

    Is an online class with a diverse crowd a sufficient replacement for actually going out, interacting, and being next to people of various racial, ethnic, religious, and economic backgrounds?
Probably not, but like I said, that's not an option for them, so it's not a fair comparison. The local public schools would not provide significant interaction with or proximity to people or differing racial, ethnic, religious, or economic backgrounds. Is an online class better for that purpose than a public school classroom in Fairfax, Virginia? No, absolutely not. But they don't live in Fairfax, Virginia, or in New York, or in California, or anywhere else that's reasonably diverse.

I think you vastly underestimate the diversity and types of people you'd find even in monocultural small towns. Being born in a town of 1000 people and moving all around the world, it's pretty strange the way people tend to look down on some places. There's plenty of variety within people that you'll quickly become aware of when you sit down are and expected to deal with them.

Why do you think I underestimate the diversity of places where I or other members of my family have lived, where we have gone to school, and where most of my parents generation have been school teachers?

I know there is plenty of diversity in small monocultural towns. But it is of a qualitatively different type.

Online or offline communities beyond 20 people are garbage. Being in a tight knit community is more important than the mechanism that is used for communication. It's the same reason why urban environments are so lonely. You meet way too many people.

I don't think it's a myth so much as it really doesn't reflect the broad range of both possible and actual home schooling scenarios.

When home schooling is used as one aspect of minimizing broader social contact for your children, it can be an issue. But it's not the home schooling per se that is the problem, but the attempt to narrow their world. And I agree it's totally unfair to paint every home schooled child with that particular brush.

But they do exist, and where they exist, most would highly benefit from traditional schools if for no other reason than it breaks the bubble a bit.

Having know a bunch of people who were home schooled in various ways I think your claim of clear superiority of preparation for adult life is also a bit too strong. On the whole I'd say it's a bit of a wash.

Exactly. There are certainly socially-stunted homeschoolers. But in those case, it is not the homeschooling that is the problem.

> Homeschool kids are exposed to a much wider variety of social situations which develops a broad base of social skills and preparation for adult responsibility much more effectively than the stifling and artificial environment of public schools does.

You need to elaborate, it is not at all clear how homeschooling will lead to a kid being exposed to a much wider variety of social situations.

The variety of social situations in typical schools is narrow and artificial. Once you leave school, never again in your adult life will you be forced to endure such a stifling environment.

If a homeschooled child never leaves the house, then yeah I can see it being a problem. But if they are allowed to go out and experience the world with their parents then they learn social skills by interacting with people of all ages, but mostly with adults who (most importantly) are already socialized and therefore model proper behavior instead of the insanity that goes on in age-segregated classrooms.

But by primarily socialising with adults, they aren't as successful when it comes time for socialising with people their own age.

Real life socialising is done with adults who are probably not exactly the same age as you. The kind of interactions a homeschooled child will have are a much closer model of the kind of interactions everyone has post-school than what happens in school is.

That's not what the previous poster said. They were talking about socializing with people your own age, which is critically important. When I was 18 if I acted like a 40 year old I would have never made friends or found a girlfriend.

But relative age is not what makes the difference. Interacting with 20 year olds as a 20 year old is much more like interacting with 20 year olds as a 10 year old than it is like interacting with 10 year olds as a 10 year old.

Depends. Will you know the slang your 20 year old peers use if your main source of socialization is 30 year olds? Did you go through all the same cultural crazes and fads?

A shared culture is important, and each generation has their own touchstones.

That’s not what dating or friendships are like though, which are pretty damned important for happiness.

The difference is between peer relationship. Adult friend is not a peer and has different level of authority.

How's this at all different from traditionally schooled children? Nothing you said applies to homeschooled kids at all.

You're basically just saying "if your parents socialize you then you'd be socialized." Sure, but if your parents don't socialize you then at least you'd have a slight chance to pick it up at school, if you're also kept away from school then you're just completely fucked.

I'm speaking as someone whose parents didn't socialize me.

Homeschooling typically involves very little sitting at home, doing traditional schoolwork. As others have noted, and my extended family's experience supports, it only takes maybe 4 hours max to get through the basic curriculum--usually less--when all the ceremony of public school is removed. That frees up a ton of time for a combination of self-directed learning, engagement in extracurricular activities with other children of a variety of ages (e.g., may nephews have done karate for probably ten years now, started learning with older students and progressed to helping teach younger students) and regular "field trips" (e.g., when there isn't a lockdown in effect, my kids go to the aquarium at least once a month, and interact with the... zookeepers? fishkeepers?... there to ask questions about the animals, pet the rays, etc.), and navigating the world with their parents. Now, a parent can still isolate their kid from responsibility, by, e.g., taking them along on an errand to the bank and the grocery store and making them be quiet and Let The Adults Talk, but they don't have to, and those who choose to homeschool generally don't. Heck, my kids aren't even school-age yet, but I still let them hold the credit card, talk to cashier, stick the card in the chip reader, take it back out when it beeps, and grab the receipt. And since they are around the house with their parents, they also tend to get to know many of their parents friends, which is conducive to learning how to interact with adults, who are not your teachers, socially.

On top of all that, even when engaging in core curricular study, homeschool kids are usually doing so in mixed-age groups, according to subject ability level--especially if they are part of a co-op.

All I can say is there are several times in my life I’ve encountered a teen/adult that I instantly knew was homeschooled.

Personally, I don’t think the occasional shared class or meetup with their peers compares to 8 hours every day being around hundreds of different personalities. Sometimes it can be hell, but you learn a lot about social interaction.

All that said I live in an area where most people that homeschool do it for religious reasons, so that could definitely be skewing things.

It is likely that there are far more times in your life that you've encountered a teen/adult that actually was home schooled and you never knew.

Are you telling me that a homeschooled kid will get exposed to more social situations than one in a public school where every race, ethnicity, and social strata are represented?

Homeschooling today is very different than 20 years ago. Since it has become more mainstream, there are so many more activities and support groups. My kids have a better social lives with a more diverse set of people than any of our friends that send their kids to school. When their kids come home from school AND finish their homework, that is when they get a little bit of time to play with my kids.

Unless the homeschooling parents went out of their way to isolate their child, it seems like the amount of interaction with people of various ethnicities, social strata, etc. is going to depend more on the community than whether a child is homeschooled. There are plenty of public schools with very little diversity.

I'll argue the other way, even if the parents are social butterflies, they end up socializing with people who belong to the same income strata. I live is a HCOL suburb in the San Jose bay area, and even here, 20% of kids are from low-income families.All races and ethnicities are represented.

You can cherry pick in both directions. Are you telling me that a kid at a socially homogeneous local school of kids all within the same age bracket will be exposed to more social situations that a homeschooled one who regularly deals with shopkeepers, tradesmen, and people of all ages and all walks of life?

What does interaction with shopkeepers, tradesmen, and people of all ages and all walks of life have anything at all to do with homeschooling??? Kids can (and do) go to school and do all that too.

I don't get it, do you think kids in public school do not interact with shopkeepers?

Is he running a home business or just being home schooled? Just to prove your point you're now resorting to daft arguments.

But they're all the same aged or very closely aged. Having genuine interactions with an non-authority-figure adults is important for children (and was how most of the world worked until the invention of modern schooling).

Learning from, and teaching, other kids at different stages and with different abilities too. Peer-teaching doesn't seem to happen much in schools.

All of my friends who were homeschooled did boy scouts, church programs, etc. and almost all of them have better-than-average social skills. I wasn't homeschooled but, based on the outcomes I've seen, I'll be homeschooling my children at least until high school.

A potential confounding variable is that homeschooling doesn't happen without a good home environment with dedicated and involved parents, and that the student would be just as successful in a traditional schooling environment for those reasons alone.

It can happen without a good home environment, and then the results are very poor indeed.

People are very opinionated about this topic, and I’m sure that’s because there’s not really an answer to “does homeschooling have negative impacts on social development?”, beyond “It depends.”

I’m saying this as an unschooler, who was entirely without a mandated curriculum from 2nd grade until adulthood.

A lot of it depends on the reasons for home schooling. My mum was just hippie-crunchy enough that when 6 year old me said I didn’t want to go to school, she just let me leave at the end of the year.

I’ve met incredibly awkward homeschoolers who were not in school due to religious parents. I’ve met families who just travel so much, it was easier on everybody to just homeschool their kids - these kids tend to be more socially developed than average IMO - May be because that lifestyle rewards kids for being outgoing. I’ve noticed many more trends, but there is ALWAYS an exception to the rule.

I should note that “successful” homeschooling does seem correlated with economic and social privilege; for me this was the case - I had the privilege of being raised in the greater Boston area, near enough public transport I could go into the city whenever I want. Personally, I can’t imagine raising kids in a rural environment where they can’t take bus anywhere, and don’t have easy access to other kids their own raise. But, of course, I know several people who were raised like that and are way more mature adults than most. I think this point is obvious, but traditional homeschooling also requires the privilege of having a parent who is not working, or the money to hire tutors (unschooling and co-op based homeschooling obviously has less of a dependency here).

For what it's worth, among me and my siblings, the one with the best social skills, the widest circle of friends, and who is still most in contact with childhood friends is the one who was homeschooled.

No, that wasn't me. I certainly spent a lot more time interacting with other kids my age during weekdays, but quantity isn't quality.

I'd be curious to know if there's been any long-term research on this subject, but I'm not aware of anything.

Virtually all homeschooling families are extremely active in at least one social group.

This is the most common question we homeschoolers receive.

1. Students and teachers are not always good role models and schools are not always a good environment for learning soft skills. Some schools are quite toxic. I'm sure many here can relate.

2. Who better to teach you social cues than your parents who love you and will be patient with you?

3. It depends on the child and the parents. Our oldest daughter is extremely introverted and was homeschooled yet has better social graces than her mother and I combined. Our middle daughter (extrovert) has a strong network of online/offline friends through various programs and activities. She will be starting a private school in the fall.

4. Homeschooled children get used to interacting with adults who are not in a school environment and tend to communicate in an adult like manner (IMHE).

5. The successful homeschoolers tend not to advertise it, yet they are everywhere. Unsuccessful home schoolers often become the subject click bait articles or books (ala Tara Westover's experience).

School for me was a horrible experience socially for me. I wish I'd been home schooled.

1. Parents are not always good role models and homes are not always a good environment for learning soft skills. Some homes are quite toxic. I'm sure many here can relate.

The most toxic of toxic schools don't even begin to compare to the toxicity of my home life. I would rather be in school getting bullied by other kids then home getting told that I ruined my parents life and they wish I didn't exist.

Truthfully, the bullying by other kids didn't even bother me in the least because it was so mild compared to what my parents dished out non-stop.

Exactly! It's more difficult (for most) to become a teacher than it is to become a parent and I think we can agree the average teacher is better at their job then the average parent.

While homeschooling can work wonderfully in some places, it is exceedingly irresponsible to advocate for unregulated homeschooling while knowing the terrible home life some children have.

The assumption that parents love and treat their children well is a quite a big assumption by homeschooling advocates.

My mother is a teacher. She has become surrogate mother to so many kids because their home lives are trash.

School could easily be considered a negative social experience. Unnaturally spending 6+ hours/day with kids of the same age under loose social guidance. A home-schooler has his neighborhood and extra-curricular time which are more than sufficient, but also one huge advantage: the potential to spend time in the real world with authentic relationships with people of all ages.

There is no chance that a homeschooled kid is going to learn all the social, leadership skills that a kid who goes to a public/private school does. The diversity of people that you get to meet in a school, is pretty much impossible in a home school setting. What about the freedom to be away from your parents and run wild? I imagine a homeschooled kid always tagging along with his parents.

As if every kid that goes to public school learns social leadership skills (hint: the vast majority don't)... and as if a bunch of delinquent kids running wild without adult supervision is always a positive thing...

There are plenty of ways to intentionally foster and coach leadership skills without putting your kid into a public school, and there are plenty of ways to give your kids freedom without them running around and getting into trouble.

These things are in no way things that are strictly exclusive to the common public school experience. If anything, you are more likely to have success by being intentional with your approach in a homeschooled environment that is free from things like peer pressure and drugs and lack of supervision.

I disagree based on my school at home experience with 2nd and 4th graders.

IMO the two big issues are teachers who have difficulty with the online model and more importantly parents or caregivers who cannot control their kids.

We’re lucky in that our teachers get it and are doing a college like schedule with weekly assignments and three days with 2 one hour live sessions with two days of office hours and recorded sessions.

It is a weird position at the moment too where you are home schooling but you know your kids will be returning to school and the schools are still setting work, so you are forced a bit into the 'school at home' thing. We're trying to get a balance - doing an hour or so of the set work each day and doing other more stealth educational stuff at other times. Unfortunately a lot of the staples of homeschooling such as museum trips (other than virtually) are obviously out at the moment!

Interesting (to me anyway) that (it seems?) you decided you wanted to home-school separately and before you decided how?

I suppose I just imagine most people have an idealised view of their child's education, and then decide they need to home-school to realise it. But perhaps that just wrong, I've no experience, first-hand or otherwise.

>>However, it was miserable to start primarily because we tried to mimic the exact school environment and schedule at home; a complete disaster

They had decided how, it just turned out they found a better way after giving it a try.

>I suppose I just imagine most people have an idealised view of their child's education, and then decide they need to home-school to realise it. But perhaps that just wrong, I've no experience, first-hand or otherwise.

They do, and they also have idealized views of their children. If you go into home education with a rigid plan of execution, you (and your children) are likely going to have a bad time.

Teaching is hard. Striking out on your own vector of pedagogy is a large risk that, if done well, can yield very large rewards...it can also be a disaster.

Just curious, how do you deal with socializing the kids?

The irony is that for kids that are actually homeschooled, they spend maybe 2 to 3 hours per day doing schoolwork. That kids spend so long in public school is not to their benefit, but to the benefit of those that need to keep their parents away from them for 9+ hours a day.

I can barely attend several hours worth of digital meetings, and I'm an adult. Imagine a 7-year old trying to do the same thing. Ridiculous.

Much of modern public government education is part baby sitter, part indoctrinator, part time waster, and part money waster. The topics public schools waste time on are not something you would catch private elite academies getting caught dead teaching their pupils.

I feel like public schools are more interested in just ensuring an equitable lowest common denominator result at the maximum budget possible to satisfy economic, social, and political grievances.

Parents of kids in public schools have dropped the ball on education. They rubber stamp yes votes on budget increases yearly, and never ask themselves why it continues to fail and get worse year by year.

In California, the answer to that last question is proposition 13 cutting the legs off of school district funding in the face of a rising population. That's why there are always education bills, because schools have been short on money for 50 years.

There are some benefits to public education that I think many on HN gloss over due to their privileged perspective when they make sweeping generalities.

Fitness and access to a nurse is a benefit. For some kids, gym class is the only time they are physically active, and a checkup in the nurses office is their only source of medical care. Access to role models is another function. Sometimes a teacher or coach is the only positive role model a kid has in their life. Another benefit of schools are that they are a safe space for kids from abusive households.

Families in poverty also rely on meals from their school district. In the face of this crisis, LAUSD is still making meals for students and their families, at times giving away 500,000 meals in a single day (1).


Claiming lack of funding is the "answer" to why public education falls short ignores a variety of issues.

Public education employs a rigid, inflexible curriculum focused on large scale standardization. Teachers unions ensure there are no performance evaluations for teachers; the only relevant metric is tenure. Teaching performance is dissociated from reward. Teachers also have expensive long term pensions which drag down balance sheets and create demands for even more funding.

Private school is able to avoid many of these issues, and charter schools are attempting to expand that model with government funding, although not without heady resistance from entrenched interests.

Public Schools have been short on money for multiple reasons. Pension obligations, building costs, union interests, grift, and they have replaced education with welfare programs.

Property taxes can only pay for so much school if you have a large population not paying into it, and if the earmarks for the money aren’t actually going towards quality education, well, you get what you get.

My local school district, Mesa Public Schools, used portables when I was a child, and many campuses were simple, boxy, and ugly, now the campuses each resemble mini colleges. I can’t imagine the extra cost this has added while the education has arguably declined and budgets have sky rocketed.

We were just dinged with a huge property tax increase that was voted in because the schools claimed a funding shortfall. Their response to passing the vote was a huge pay increase to administrative staff and bonuses that resulted in the superintendent quickly and quietly resigning.

It’s these things you see in public schools that raise the ire of people and why they don’t mind chopping the legs out.

Conversely, these same parents are happy to pay money into a private school because they know what they are getting. Quality and their moneys worth.

How shameful it is to look at the failings of public education and respond by leaving school districts even worse off than before. What is the point of that degenerate logic? It's punitive to the kids more than anything, and not a worthwhile protest.

Proposition 13 in particular was quite insidious to public education in California. Overnight, school district funding was slashed by a third. California public schools went from the best in the nation before prop 13, to like 38th in the nation today. The school district budget deficit has never recovered even after all the education bills passed since 1978.


This argument goes nowhere - one side says the system will never work, and aims to minimize it with cuts to funding and propping up of alternatives. How dare the other side put bad money after good. The other side says the issue was simply the cuts to funding in the first place, and how dare the other side not value children, etc.

Neither argument is rooted in critical thought, and neither argument is interesting - much less persuasive. In fact, critical thought really only leads to one outcome: this back and forth certainly doesn't work - ie: the education system should not be at the whim of the political system.

In other words, your argument helps convince me _against_ the point you're trying to make.

All that said, I find it fascinating (economically) that schools are rife with drug abuse. The public good of education appears to follow the public rules of the war of drugs less than any private property I've ever set foot on. I should add, emotionally, that I do not find it fascinating at all, and I miss a lot of lost friends.

The argument you're making, that schools simply lack funding, couldn't possibly ring more hollow to me. If you care about children, you should see those florescent-lit, cinder-block prisons for what they are.

> degenerate logic

Logic is logic. There is no logic for "degenerates".

Don't forget schools are also designed to keep kids off the labor market until they're ~18.

Imagine what giving all those 13 year olds $2/hour jobs would do to the labor market.

Don't worry, we have minimum wage! So it's illegal to hire anyone whose work is worth less than 10$/hr (or whatever, I think LA (CA) would be 15). But no basic income, because then businesses might actually have to negotiate with people who aren't desperate for any way of affording basic necessities.

Giving everyone UBI just means the cost of living goes up.

I was one of those teenagers at 13.

I appreciated the work training from early experience in the job market. The skills learned from getting mentored by the business owners for the small business I worked for as a teenager was invaluable as I got older.

I wouldn’t have traded that for anything. Teenagers now only get their head filled up with lofty ideas as to how it should work, then go into the market at 18 with no experience in a job, no employment training, and no real concept of what it means to actually work and run a business.

> then go into the market at 18 with no experience in a job, no employment training, and no real concept of what it means to actually work and run a business.

Either at 13 or at 18, the thing is the same though. With the difference that at 18 they’re suddenly expected to know things that weren’t ever taught to them.

Decrying the advent of child labor protection laws is an certainly a less common version of “kids these days!”, I’ll grant you that.

The school isn't just about the academic part. It also teaches you invaluable soft skills. How to handle conflicts, how to present in front of the audience, how to make friendships, how to respond to bullying, how to find like minded people. All those skills are extremely important in your average team environment, and learning them as a kid is much easier than guessing why you've been laid off, while your useless, but very empathic colleague got promoted instead.

School doesn’t teach those skills from my personal experience.

I was a product of public schooling, the my way or highway attitudes of some teachers, the social isolation, cliches, bullying, teasing, all severely stunted my social development until I was a teenager and began competing in sports team environments, working jobs, and interacting with the public outside of school.

After a couple years I was far more developed socially than anything the school environment provided in the decade prior to that.

When I hear this reason often used, I fear it’s from people who enjoyed their social life in school due to reasons not actually involving the school, and place too much value in those social dynamics, ignoring the really ugly parts of it that hamper growth for a lot of students, including themselves.

My own experiences show they lack any real application to life outside of school. I’ve never had a decent job that worked socially like any school environment I’ve been in, and the one or two I did have were quickly left.

I didn't learn a single one of those skills from attending public school. Every public school I attended (and I attended several, since my parents were chasing the accelerated learning program every time it moved) was not only a huge waste of time, but actively psychologically harmful.

Based on the data I've seen, what I describe is a typical or even better-than-average public school experience.

Private school was infinitely better once I started going, and my homeschooled friends (who I met at university) are, on the whole, vastly better adjusted than the people I attended public school with.

Let's be honest - public schools' primary functions are to act as a daycare center and subsidized food distribution site. If you child is at all intelligent, you're probably better off leaving them at home with some books than sending them off to PS17851. I know I would have been better off that way!

> Let's be honest - public schools' primary functions are to act as a daycare center and subsidized food distribution site. If you child is at all intelligent, you're probably better off leaving them at home with some books than sending them off to PS17851. I know I would have been better off that way!

Would you have been though? There's a core curriculum that I really doubt most kids would learn if they had their own way. Even with intelligence there's lots of stuff kids would never learn as it never interests them. What are the odds that a child is interested in Shakespeare, civics, biology, and trigonometry? We're drug through a lot of it kicking and screaming (to an extent), but it has value to have gone through it.

> There's a core curriculum that I really doubt most kids would learn if they had their own way.

Insofar as kids learn (and retain) things at all, chances are they were going to learn it on their own anyway.

The preponderance of evidence suggests that it basically doesn't matter what you forcibly try to teach kids between the ages of zero-13; their later academic outcomes aren't going to change much anyway.

This matches my anecdotal experience; kids who end up being good in some field are always way ahead of what public schools (which are forced to cater to the lowest common denominator) can teach them anyway, and kids who end up not being good at a field will probably pick up the same information they're being taught naturally, at a more natural and less painful pace.

> What are the odds that a child is interested in Shakespeare, civics, biology, and trigonometry

High? Lots of kids choose to read books on various topics with their free time and focus, which they would have more of if they weren't swamped with pointless make-work.

Plus, it's not like you're actually going to get a comprehensive or even useful understanding of any of those things from the bottom 80% of schools.

> but it has value to have gone through it

Even if this is true (but I suspect the "kicking and screaming" might actually be net counterproductive), I really doubt it's worth the cost of spending something like 25% of your waking hours in Factory Labor Simulator for the first 13 (or whatever) years of your life.

Most students in public schools do not learn any meaningful amount of Shakespeare or trigonometry, regardless of whether it’s part of the curriculum.

The chronic stress of having to complete bullshit assignments on subjects I had no interest in does not justify it. If I could make one law by fiat, it would be illegal to tell a child “You have to learn to do things that you don’t want to do” as justification for the mindless hours of frivolous work. Honestly, judging by the amount of stress it caused me as a child, I’m tempted to call it psychological abuse. Children are human beings too.

How can you possibly compare a small group of friends to everyone at our public schools? Clearly you have a bias. If public schooling was doing such a poor job at adjusting children we probably would have noticed by now.

On the flip side, I can't possibly imagine how an average parent can homeschool their child in advanced calculus or chemistry. The knowledge simply isn't there. And saying it can be replaced with videos or books is missing the point of education.

> If public schooling was doing such a poor job at adjusting children we probably would have noticed by now.

We did notice! How have you not noticed? Almost everyone comes out of public school marred in some way that they then have to unlearn as a young adult.

It's just a rough, toxic place. Sure, while it is harming you (some mildly, some significantly), it also delivers some benefits. But it is a net loss.

School can indeed teach those other skills. But mostly only by mistake and much more it does the opposite.

Because in fact I learned bullying in (high) school. How to be bullied and how to bully others. (I actually remember being given a informal class about how to to it properly, by other pupils) There were allways at least on person in class who was the bottom of the social order, who would get everything. But everybody got its share, who showed any weakness or lack of "coolness" which could mean anything at that time, like not smoking.

And I know many people who never sing anymore, because they have been traumatized in the school singing presentation. Likewise with other presentations. I could always sing without problem, as I learned singing from my mother, but others whose parents did not sing with them, were always scared of the singing and embarrasing themself in front of everyone, but accepted that as a 2 times a year ritual and just reinforced their trauma every time.

But in compensation I got a trauma with presentation. I don't know exactly how it started, but probably with a teacher who liked to destroy childrens self confidence, if they were not perfectly prepared for the boring assignment and a class who was either sleeping or annoying. Got me a stuttering habit, too.

Today I can give presentations, but I had a really hard time learning it later in life.

So I am not sure what I will do, once my baby gets old enough, as I am located in germany and germany does not like homeschooling and I also would want other homeschoolers to be around, because I also think, that learning in small groups mostly beats learning alone or one on one.

Those goals make sense to me, as I think they're all valuable, and I think some people do learn those skills while in school, but I'm not sure they learn them because of school. As the old saying goes: "what gets measured gets done", and schools only really measure test scores and years attended. I am not sure that schools really help people learn many social skills.

Have you seen evidence that schools contribute more to social skills than their alternatives might? I'd like to agree with you, but I am a little skeptical.

If that's one of the primary purposes of school, then schools should have four hours of recess per day, because recess is where you learn all of those skills (except presenting in front of an audience). Most of the rest of the time, you're sitting still in a classroom listening to a teacher, not interacting with your peers.

I know my anecdata is just that but my experience to date is the all the homeschooled people I've met are far more social on average than the average non-homeschooled people.

No idea why that would be but of the 12 or so I've meet they've stood out as above average.

This is simple dogma, so I would encourage you to research and listen to the experiences of those on different paths.

The overwhelming number of websites utilized for an elementary school education drastically overcomplicates attempting to complete my son's school work..

Just for math alone, often times to complete a single day's activitiy, four different websites are involved, usually all requiring different login/password information.

Get assignments from Google Calendar Watch instruction on youtube. Do lesson on Zearn.org. Watch video on Khan Academy. Complete quiz on iReady. Take picture of your scratch work so you can upload to google calendar.

I am a technology junkie and always have been, but I definitely miss the days from my own schooling where everything I needed to both learn and do in Math for the day was in a single textbook... It's sad how much we have complicated things with technology.

Now they have completely changed how math should be done, require many extra "steps" that seem to be unnecessary that parents were never taught, and do not provide a book at all for reference of what these new methods are. It almost seems like they are trying to make learning as frustrating as possible.

Oh god, so much this. If they'd just use books and worksheets and the occasional Youtube video maybe, it'd be so much better. We had prepped worksheet packets for the first couple weeks and it's been hell since those ran out.

I'd also love just a simple (please, just the plainest of HTML, it does not need to be another fucking app or "webapp") checklist of what's due for the current week, per day, with a check for "submitted", a check for "received/acknowledged", and a check for "graded" (so don't bother submitted or updating if you didn't already). Maybe make the name of each thing linkable when relevant.

[EDIT] Oh and

> Now they have completely changed how math should be done, require many extra "steps" that seem to be unnecessary that parents were never taught, and do not provide a book at all for reference of what these new methods are. It almost seems like they are trying to make learning as frustrating as possible.

Yes. Ugh. "Word sentence". No. It's a fucking equation. I swear I can't figure out what they even want half the time because they're using weird terms. And this is first grade math.

Edit option’s gone but I meant “number sentence”, of course. Heh. And yes that’s really what they call them. Half the kids can’t even kind-of tell you what a sentence is in English and they’re using them as a metaphor in math. Clearly a good and useful idea.

I also have real concerns about the use of gamification in these online learning apps. It seems to really encourage an unhealthy obsession with points, collecting awards etc. to the point where learning is secondary. To be clear, I'm not suggesting that e.g. a child doesn't learn maths or a language etc. using these apps, but I think there are other things that are being learnt as well. If tasks are not game-based, they're now boring, and are to be avoided. If they require serious focus and thinking with no immediate rewards beyond just learning, they're avoided. What's become more important is immediate gratification and the dopamine hit. I really worry that the over reliance on gamification is encouraging very negative behaviours in young children.

I share your concern that too much gamification in school helps normalize Skinner-boxy manipulation in other venues (Fortnite, slot machines, etc.).

I do think gamification can have positive externalities as well, though. Comparing high scores in Number Munchers was the first time in my early 90s grade school that it was socially cool to stand out academically. That can be socially liberating for smart students afraid to be uncool (or academically liberating for cool students afraid to be seen as caring about school). I don't think you get the same effect if the status signal comes in the form of praise/grades from the "uncool" teacher.

The simple textbook is impossible because of companies like pearson looking to monetize every character of every page through licensing of online textbooks.

They could implement this tomorrow but choose not to.

Lots of kids in LA seem to be spending all day skateboarding 20 people deep on the less crowded streets, playing full court basketball and soccer matches with hundreds of spectators at the supposedly closed public parks. Summer break began when LAUSD went online for a lot of kids.

And its no wonder. 15% of students have yet to be in contact with their teachers during this survey period (1). In south central, 16% of students lack basic internet access. It's hard to imagine this perspective for a lot of the HN demographic, where we imagine internet has been ubiquitous in the U.S. for decades, but this is still not the case for low income areas in one of the largest cities in north america.

1. https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2020-04-22/getting-...

Wasn't it obvious from the start that that would be the result? The idea that children should study at home during the school closure is ludicrous. I'm almost 40, have a Master's degree and have self-studied my whole life but I often have trouble being efficient when I'm home. So no way children seven to fifteen years old can do it.

Maybe children with academic parents will get some home-schooling, but children from poor backgrounds won't. Those are the ones who will be paying the price of the lock down. Two, three months without schooling will significantly hamper their development.

When my state decided to go to 'e-learning' for the rest of the year, those of us who are located in rural, or low-income districts were terrified. The high-income districts couldn't be more excited; they're biggest headache was making sure each of their students' school issued laptops were appropriately tagged before being handed out.

This will further bake in the inequities already present in our garbage education system. Those that have, will have more, better experiences due to involved parents (because they have flexible or even just able-to-be-completed remotely jobs). This will be an enrichment period for those students. If I had a high achieving middle schooler at a high income district, this would be amazing for their development. For those that don't have, they're losing 3-6 months of education, at a minimum. For my child, even with two highly educated parents, due to a lack of resources and access to technology, this will be a loss.

Source: My career in rural, urban, and suburban education, both k-12 and higher education.

> The high-income districts couldn't be more excited

This is a very unfair characterization. I live in a "high income district" and have a strong relationship with several of my kids' teachers.

None of them is "excited" about this, and neither is the district. It's a shitty situation and they're doing the best they can. That it's possible for them to do it is great but even in high income districts, you have kids who can't attend , and the impact of the delivery is weak compared to in-classroom (double for special needs kids).

Everyone is losing out, and some kids in rural or low-income districts are going to greatly suffer education-wise.

Few, other than with a dedicated non-working parent will benefit from this.

Speaking up for a household that has one “non-working parent”: they aren’t benefiting either. Nobody is.

We have three kids (8, 6, and 3) and my wife and I are just happy if we can get through the day without anyone breaking an arm, which I’m sad to say we failed at a few days back. Oops!

> Those that have, will have more, better experiences due to involved parents (because they have flexible or even just able-to-be-completed remotely jobs).

There's a lot of us that are able to do our jobs remotely, but are still struggling to home school our children. Sure, it's better for us than it is for people that must go in to work, but please don't portray it as some sort of utopia. It's physically, emotionally, and mentally draining doing your normal, full time job AND home schooling your child.

Plus, I'm a horrible teacher.

> This will be an enrichment period for those students

It certainly isn't for my child. We're trying; we're trying really hard.

> "Plus, I'm a horrible teacher."

not to minimize the struggle you and other parents face, but that seems to frame the problem as one of being able to structure the learning in a certain, standardized way.

kids are innate, natural learners. they'll learn things by you just letting them be a part of whatever it is you're doing, for even part of the day (totally understand needing a break from kids too). this kind of learning also reaches farther down into, and better engages, the whole brain vs. classroom learning. it's ok if they don't perfectly learn about past participles, acute triangles, and the magna carta this school year.

I am not able to involve my child in my job. If I tried to do so, I wouldn't get anything done. I'm either working with her or doing my work. We try to find a balance by setting her up with lessons for the day (some specified by her teacher, some by us), helping her out when she encounters hurdles, and checking in on her now and again to see how she's doing. Then we discuss what she did during day later that evening.

It's worth noting, her teachers have been great. As much as I'm frustrated by some of the online stuff, they're doing a great job with very little time to prepare for it.

I'm not sure what you mean by "excited". No one seems to be excited by the current situation. Parents in high-income districts aren't excited at either losing their jobs, or having to work from home, and still doing home-school on top of all of that.

I see the point you're trying to make about rural areas having it even worse, but it's inflammatory to paint the picture in the stark contrast you portrayed.

If it's really so great for the high income students, then maybe the schools there should be shut down permanently so the money can be redirected to where they are necessary.

Then the dual income parents would have to find another place to put their kids in during the day.

The only real reasons schools exist in the first place.

I'm a teacher, so I know I'm biased, but I definitely don't agree with this (and didn't even before I became a teacher).

First off, there's a sizable chunk of the US that can't access online learning, whether it's due to poverty or just living out in an extremely rural area where all you can get is satellite internet that may or may not work.

Second, there's something to be said to being there in-person learning something. Having the teacher explain it to you and go over it with you is something that just can't be done as well on video for all students. Yes, some can get it and do great with self-directed learning and video explanations, but some students do need the extra work that they can get in school; there's more to school than just babysitting, even if some parents (and others) don't think so.

That said, if we could guarantee students had internet access, I'd totally be for a flipped classroom, especially in math and science. Students could then practice with the teacher present and able to give feedback and correct understanding during the school day, without having to use two days for a topic (which is what I currently do; one day explaining a concept, the next letting students practice it with me answering questions).

I don’t know what your feelings on qz.com are but it disagrees.


> Factory owners required a docile, agreeable workers who would show up on time and do what their managers told them. Sitting in a classroom all day with a teacher was good training for that. Early industrialists were instrumental, then, in creating and promoting universal education.

We shouldn't confuse aspiration with environmental constraints. Just because some company says their product, XYZ, was designed to change the world and increase IQ doesn't mean you can go around stating that XYZ changed the world and increased IQ, or analyzing the various characteristics of the product solely in terms of the claims. Rather, in reality almost everything of substance about such a product follows from exogenous constraints--cost, feasibility, etc.

To explain the seemingly arbitrary and stifling demands of a typical Prussian-style universal education system, the obvious place to look first would be cost--instructors, facilities, organization, etc.

Also, the beginning of industrialization coincided with the end of serfdom in much of Europe. Were capitalists trying to create and exploit compliant workers, or were they trying to create workers, period? That is, there were no workers beforehand, just serfs or recently emancipated serfs, depending on territory. Social reforms were so wildly successful in Prussia that they swept the Western world, even places like the U.S. where industrialization (but not universal education) was already well under way. Was that because it produced virtuous, Christian workers, or just because it was efficient at improving basic literacy?

Literacy & numeracy rates prior to widespread public schooling would disagree with you on this.

I'm going to go out on a limb here and say there are a couple of other reasons.

If I recall my US history class, universal public education (in the US) was a Great Depression policy created to prevent children from taking jobs from adults.

Nope, by 1918 every state had mandatory public schooling. And a significant push for education came from industry, which needed more educated workers, and had nothing to do with the Depression. The ability for teenagers to drop out & enter the workforce went unchanged throughout the depression (and long after). Though I have heard that places with job openings often reserved them for people with families to support.

By 1900, 34 states had compulsory schooling laws; four were in the South. Thirty states with compulsory schooling laws required attendance until age 14 (or higher). As a result, by 1910, 72 percent of American children attended school. Half the nation's children attended one-room schools. By 1918, every state required students to complete elementary school [0]

[0] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_education_in_the_Un...

Middle-class families are not just the state's tax livestock.

> a high achieving middle schooler at a high income district, this would be amazing for their development

the builders of tomorrow are getting even better education right now? is that what you're saying? that sounds great

So that's the positive, but you completely ignored the negative. I know you did it on purpose, but I don't know why.

The kids who were already statistically bound for a positive outcome due to family and income are fine, and locking that in even tighter. The kids who have hurdles have EVEN HIGHER hurdles now.

why do people need to be consumed by the negative all the time? must everybody be an activist? what do you realistically expect people to do besides talk about it online? is this really the place to virtue signal?

Are you only allowed to be a “builder of tomorrow” if you’re a high achiever from a high income district?

That would be a sad indictment of our society if true.

> That would be a sad indictment of our society if true.

You say that like it's evidence against (rather than for) it being true.

Let's assume it is true that richer areas have more builders of tomorrow. That's going to be true whether or not they get better schools. And giving them better schools does a disservice to the population. So "it sounds great" is severely misguided.

Giving better schools to students that highly achieve at least has some justification, but is probably unnecessary if we get all the schools up to 'competent' and have some money for various kinds of advanced placement programs.

I meant that "[You are] only allowed to be a "builder of tomorrow" if you're a high achiever from a high income district[.]" is, at least approximately (there are almost always exceptions of course) and in practice, true. I wasn't making any claim about whether that was good thing, either normatively or pragmaticly.

That is probably true though.

Would you like to continue your line of thought all the way and return to having poor children work in factories?

I think you're using poor as a proxy for uninvolved parents.

I'd actually be interested in the data if anyone has it. If you have no dad and mom is working then you're at a huge disadvantage no matter what.

These same kids ruin school for everyone else. Dead beat parents treat school like a day-care and ruins the learning experience for everyone else.

Also poor kids go to poor schools. 35 kids to a class, teacher who has mentally checked out 3 decades ago, gang activity in the halls, books are literally falling apart.

Going to a poor school sucks more than learning from home. Bullies and gang activities are rampant. School administration doesn't care because those stats make the school look bad. Yuck

I went to a poor school. 42 kids to some classes, not enough desks, couldn't bring the literally falling-apart history books home because we only had one classroom set of really old ones. Did full IB and went to Caltech and then got a PhD, myself. Another friend/classmate is an astrophysics prof now, and another runs social interventions to prevent gang violence for the city, and another is a DJ at our local music station, another's a veterinarian, people went to Princeton MIT Cornell and fine community colleges, blah blah blah. The people I just listed are men & women, black white Asian, from immigrant and non-immigrant parents.

There were definitely racial and socioeconomic biases baked into my high school, but despite being poor we have produced a great community and great people. High quality education can be provided even to poor kids, and it makes a difference. Public schools can make a difference.

Teaching yourself English from YouTube works for some, but it's not the norm. Education matters.

I agree.

Source - hopped around 6 poor schools

> Two, three months without schooling will significantly hamper their development

Are you sure about that? Having gone through lots of school, I'm fairly certain that missing three months of it would have no negative effect on anyone's development.

Not sure if this is just snark, or really just that cynical, but it seems clearly false regardless. The senior in high school missing their last 3 months probably isn't going to experience any negative effects, but there are plenty of younger students at various parts of the learning curve that will definitely experience negative effects.

Reading, especially early on it life, has been found to correlate with academic and life achievement. Kindergarteners and 1st graders who have parents or caretakers able to keep them reading and learning at home will be better off than those who don't. Even if the absence just causes some delays in learning, it can easily lead to bullying and self esteem issues.

Is it going to destroy their lives irreparably forever? No, probably not; but suggesting it has no negative effect (the opposite extreme) is also wrong.

Yes, I'm sure. On your seventh birthday, you have lived for 84 months. So three months for someone seven years old is as much additional life as 17 months is for someone 40 years old. That is how much time of both schooling and bonding with friends that they lose with no easy way to catch up. It's a fact of life that the older you get, the harder it becomes to learn new things so you can't just extend the kids schooling with an additional three months.

I'm positive the quarantine will be noticeable in student assessment programes. The longer the quarantine, the larger the drop in test results.

In this case, we have an existing study. Some countries habitually have a three month gap, with schools closing at the end of spring and opening at the beginning of autumn. Overall, a three month gap in schooling results in sliding back by one month's worth of learning. So, missing three months of school results in being four months behind where students should be.

Source: http://www.ldonline.org/article/8057/

I believe the previous comment was implying that progress in school and personal development are not the same thing.

As a generalization for people reading these comments, that may well be true. Heck, many might do even better than they would have under normal circumstances. But, for others on the edge, they may basically lose a year in school, maybe not graduate high school as a result, and have a poorer life as a result.

I asked a teacher friend of mine. Her thought is for most of her kids losing two months of school isn't going to matter much. Most kids have years to catch up. And a lot of kids get some learning at home just from their parents. She's more concerned for her students that are in trouble already due to bad home environments. Those students will need a lot of extra help.

Especially if it's not single students missing 3 months, but large groups of students.

"The idea that children should study at home during the school closure is ludicrous"

This sounds like a cultural failing, not some law of nature.

Let's not be too harsh. It's hard enough for the parents to WFH.

This is why officials in many states, even ones that were gung-ho social distancing like California and Washington, were reluctant to close the schools. It was predicted that a large number of kids would instead just be congregating together on streets, defeating much of the point of closing the schools. But they were caught between a rock and a hard place. If they didn't close the schools, the kids become an infection vector that undoes much of the sacrifice of having people wfh, avoid social gatherings, and cancel large events.

It's refreshing that the attitude you're describing in parts of the USA aligns with what we saw and heard in AU -- almost every comment is about the health and wellbeing of the children, and rarely included any consideration of the risks to the administration and teaching staff at the schools, the public transport workers moving the children to and from the schools, or the risks (mostly from) the parents doing pick-ups and drop-offs.

Small children aren't a significant infection vector. Sweden didn't close primary schools.

[Citation needed] Small children are absolutely a disease vector.

Any anyone who's worked in a school knows how quickly diseases spread there. Like, my district, and all the districts near us, routinely close down every February come flu season as kids come to school with it (or other diseases) and they spread like wildfire. We take 3 days off, give the school a deep cleaning and let the kids pass their infectious period or get to the doctor, and then come back. Diseases spread like wildfire in schools.

This paper[1] on a Lancet sister publication disagrees, on the basis of literature review, that in this specific case the schools are a major part of SARS-CoV-2 infections. Of course there are many caveats in the discussion section.

[1] https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lanchi/article/PIIS2352-4...

From your source: "Recent modelling studies of COVID-19 predict that school closures alone would prevent only 2–4% of deaths" a 2-4% reduction in death rate implies quite heavily that children would be a disease vector.

Yes, and worse if the teachers die, since they're obviously at a higher risk of being in that extra 2-4% of deaths if schools do not close.

Sweden didn't close restaurants, shops, nor schools: https://www.npr.org/2020/04/26/845211085/stockholm-expected-...

> I'm almost 40, have a Master's degree and have self-studied my whole life but I often have trouble being efficient when I'm home. So no way children seven to fifteen years old can do it.

I do have problems now that I'm older (than you even). Things were very different when I was K-12 age. We sure weren't rich, but I was naturally curious and had reasonable access to books. All I really needed from the school system was for them to stay out of the way.

That said, I was baked in my parents' near-reverence for education. There are a lot of parents who probably regard academics the way my parents regarded sports (i.e., as useless), and those kids largely aren't going to do well.

My entire childhood of homeschooling disagrees. No my parents are not academic.

Don't you think the situation might be a little different comparing parents who made a conscious choice to homeschool versus parents who were thrust into it with little to no warning?

I'm pretty sure the stats show that even parent(s) who are bad at homeschooling produce kids who score in the top 50% of their cohort.

Not having to deal with bullies, constant distractions, sharing the teacher with 30+ other kids, most of whom would rather be anywhere else, doing things at your own pace, is no small thing.

>constant distractions

The problem is that parents who are being thrust into the homeschooling role typically _do_ have constant distractions, including their day job, watching other siblings, worrying about their financial situation, etc.

Given that there is a change from the norm, yes it may be harder and there will be adjustments. But claiming that children cannot study at home during school closure is wrong. Also, a parent has a duty to educate his children. It should not be so foreign a concept.

It's more about designated environment. If you think you can study in the same place where you play video games, it's not going to work unless you have extreme self confidence and control.

But if you build a discipline slowly and steadily, change what you associate your current environment with then you can effectively focus on things that should matter.

There is lots of evidence that videogames are helpful for kids' development. Complaining about videogames sounds a bit like adults in the 19th century complaining about kids wasting time playing chess or reading novels.

I think you are reading too much into the comment than there is. I didn't imply or said anything about video games.

Did you even read what the person you're replying to was saying, or did you ctrl f 'video games' and just assume anyone mentioning them is attacking them?

> Two, three months without schooling will significantly hamper their development.

Only within the rigid schedule set for them in the default school curriculum. I doubt they’re ultimately going to notice a difference of 3 months.

Teacher here (kindergarten/first grade). This is so important to underscore. Curriculum doesn't serve children or society if it becomes an arbitrary yardstick to measure children's development. Thank you for calling this out!

To some, probably. I'm pretty sure the British government realized this from the start, but despite their efforts to resist school closures they were strong-armed into doing it anyway by the teachers and the press.

The poor British government, forced by its accountability to the public not to turn children into vectors that would kill their families?

Children aren't major vectors for this particular disease, though. It was pretty obvious even at the time, and the evidence for this has only got stronger - they just don't seem to transmit Covid-19 very well, not to parents or to other kids. Also, closing schools risks them all starting to socialize in much less controlled ways all day outside of school, as the comment that started this thread points out is already happening, which means that they might end up being more of a vector for transmission rather than less. Then there's the impact on key workers and nurses, the child abuse epidemic caused by not having schools as an early warning system...

Pressuring the government to do something that's a terrible idea on the basis that they must be wrong because they're the government isn't "accountability". It's making the world a worse place for profit.

I thought 6-8 weeks ago we didn't know that children aren't major vectors (let alone that it was pretty obvious), and I'm not even sure we know that now. Can you provide some of this 'evidence that has gotten stronger' for this claim please?

Suggesting that closing schools is pointless because they 'might' be more of a vector because their parents lack the competence to instruct or control their children seems unnecessarily pessimistic. Were I in a position of authoring public policy around this kind of event, I'd a) vigorously adopt the precautionary principle, and b) assume we could convince the parents and the parents could then convince their own children.

I'm confused by the last claim you make -- I thought the 'for profit' camp was very much against closing schools (or indeed closing anything for very long).

> Children aren't major vectors for this particular disease, though.

That's a big claim. Care to provide a reference?

Just because kids don't die of it does not at all establish that they don't transmit it.

This study says kids have the same viral load as adults: https://twitter.com/c_drosten/status/1255555995671150597

> So no way children seven to fifteen years old can do it.

You shouldn't generalize from your own experience like that.

I'm a teacher in a low-income rural area in the South and, try as I might, there's still some students I haven't been able to get ahold of. They don't have phones, or just didn't join Remind for whatever reason, and their parents didn't give me an email address. Hell, I've tried calling some on the numbers the school has on file, or that they gave me, to no success. It's quite frustrating from the teacher's perspective too, as I really just wanna make sure they're doing OK and that they get their stuff turned in... Though our administration did pretty much assume to expect nothing once we went to packets/online work, despite how much they threatened to place any students who didn't do it in in-school suspension or even fail them.

> Summer break began when LAUSD went online for a lot of kids

Summer vacation is highly beneficial and better than typical schools in so many ways: getting to choose more of what you want to do and pursue your own interests, under your own motivation, without stressful testing and evaluation, at your own pace. You also get more exercise and the chance to play less structured games that aren't organized or controlled by adults.

But even if kids sit at home and play video games all day, I'm pretty sure their math, language, and problem solving skills will improve more than they would if they spent the same amount of time in a typical LA classroom.

I vividly remember 35 years my kindergarden having a leaking roof, and the ensuing 'chaos', with all groups together and all toys spread around, led to a sense of freedom and interaction and play I hadn't had otherwise. Similarly I fondly remember many stretches of extended free time during my school years but also times of pressure, boredom and a sense failure at school.

I believe that this sort of exceptional free time does wonder for the psyches of those kids. The sense of "occupying" the public parks that are usually dominiated by grown ups is something kids these days don't often have. Back in the days we still wandered around in groups and had a chance to explore a forest or whatever.

While Internet makes life a bit more convenient, there are books and telephones. We can do something vs just "no education is possible!"

For example, see "school of the air", an Australian rural education program that used to run over radio.


Australia has long been a world leader in distance education, likely because they had such a large problem, and a head start on solving it.

Our school barely has enough books to cover three classes, let alone the entire grade. Likewise, I've tried calling students on the numbers their parents listed both on the syllabus and on the official enrollment forms have still have sometimes had it unanswered.

Yep. Post service is still working. People have been homeschooling their children long before the internet became ubiquitous.

The kids will just retreat to their study? At a lot of homes, there are much bigger challenges than just internet access.

Internet in US is not "ubiquitous", but joke. Monopoly everywhere, data caps...

I don't have land-line internet available at my home in greater DC metro. We survive on LTE hotspots. Praying for the success of StarLink!

Yup. I can only get Spectrum in my apartment, the fastest plan available is claimed to be 100mbps and doesn't hit anywhere close to that in reality, throttles aggressively. 4G coverage is pretty shit here in LA too. Crappy coverage, slow, and drops the connection all the time.

My options are deal with this, move, or have no internet. Internet provider choices will weigh heavily when I'm apartment hunting after this lease.

Is this due to people being unable to afford it, or telecoms being unwilling to build infrastructure?

The US has an obsolete, anti-competitive regulatory regime. In many states, the system allows local governments to grant effective monopolies each to a cable video and telephone provider. So many communities have, at best, two internet providers, and cable video service is far from universal. So a lot of places only have DSL over copper phone lines and that's rarely at broadband speeds. In my community the monopoly phone provider is bankrupt and has not repaired lines, meaning not even DSL is available to some homes.

My impression is that it's a mix -- telecoms only want to upgrade wireline infrastructure where it's profitable (so, more affluent areas), and in my experience, in SF, there is some degree of NIMBYism about internet infrastructure at the street level ("green boxes" and the like) so even if the telecom is willing it can be hard to get consensus from the neighbors.

> telecoms only want to upgrade wireline infrastructure where it's profitable


> (so, more affluent areas)

no. criteria is population density, that's what makes it profitable.

Hahahahaha dream on, I’m in the middle of a pretty dense part of a city, but not a rich part, and I have exactly one internet option and it is ass.

Ray Nagin got released yesterday and I get cold sweats in bed thinking if Cox hires him back to unleash some new fresh hell

The most valuable and scarce resource for many parents right now is time. Even parents who theoretically have "time" due to a recent layoff or furlough are under stress of trying to apply for various benefits while paying the bills somehow, so the task of organizing their kids' home academic schedule is just daunting, leaving aside the issues of lack of internet access or computers.

It was challenging for me and my spouse, despite both having jobs that switch to WFH and flexible schedules, plenty of computers, and internet access.

I think you replied to the wrong comment. I was asking about home internet availability.

Internet availability is an issue, as is device availability. Even poor families who have a computer may only have 1 for the whole family.

It's in the middle of a huge city. If nothing else, they could use mobile data hotspots. The school district has been handing those out to kids with no stable internet at home where I live in Oregon, or trying to, at least.

Not everyone has laptops, and the school may not have the resources to provide devices. Zoom is one thing, but doing any serious learning on a phone is difficult - and that's assume the parent is OK with letting the child use theirs for a large part of the day.

Yes, you would have to ensure that everyone has a device of some kind.

4G is not very reliable in LA.

Oregon !== South Central

If education is a basic right/requirement, then so is internet access.

Are the parks actually closed? I only saw them closed for Easter weekend.

Yup! All parks are closed, but you can't even tell if you drove by say MacArthur park right now.


“Parks still remain open for walking or running”

This is what I suspected. I couldn’t imagine parks and rec or LAPD not shooing people away and putting up physical barriers if they were actually closed.

If social distancing guidelines are maintained, that is. Note the next line about recreational group sports which are my biggest issues with the parks right now. It would take 1 cop to tell everyone playing basketball and soccer to go home, although with the trongs of spectators on bleachers maybe a couple cops on horses would be better.

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