As September quickly approaches, and parents are forced to make a decision of whether their children are going to return to school, many are choosing to stay home.
Multiple Edmonton and area school districts are offering parents an option for remote learning, completed through the district. For many parents new to the homeschool community, or searching for a way to continue distance learning without the isolation, the choice of homeschool cohorts or pods can help to replicate the classroom community.
The idea of a homeschool cohort is simple enough. It’s a limited group of kids, adults or families, that are seeing each other on a regular basis and limits contact with others outside of the cohort. It’s where several families come together and either hire an educator to lead the children, or come together for social or community gatherings, field trips and experiences.
Setting up a Homeschool Cohort – Setting the Ground Rules
- Who is going to take part in the cohort or pod? What types of limitations on visits with members outside of the cohort are going to be set?
- What types of meetings are going to be arranged? Are children going to come together to learn and complete the classwork, or are the meetings going to be completed for extracurricular activities, and social experiences?
- Who is going to be responsible for safety components like hand hygiene, sanitizing, and social distancing protocols? As most of the children in our cohort are elementary age, we’ll have active encouragement for frequent hand washing and sanitizing.
- Where is the learning or experience going to take place? Is adult supervision required? This could be a time where parents can set a schedule and allow time for working at home, without interruption.
- Keep the group relatively small, we’ve decided to keep our group within four families, and 13 children. To reduce our risk, we will limit contact with all other families, and friends, once our cohort homeschool group begins.
Structure – What Will Yours look Like?
For us, the children are going to come together for learning, and enrichment, on a rotating schedule between four households. This enables parents of the household to connect regularly, about programming, be on hand for questions and assistance with learning (as we have elementary age children who require a higher level of support), and also enables parents to have ‘off time’ where they can work from home, uninterrupted, two days a week.
Families can come together for social activities online, using the morning to complete the class work at home, and come together in the afternoon for social activities, or enrichment, or meet less frequently.
You need to find a structure that works for the comfort level of the group, work needs of the parents, ages of the children and the level of engagement preferred by the families in the group.
Finding Cohort Activities
Many local studios and experiences allow for small group bookings, and even traditional programs like local dance studios have opened up their programming to make room for small groups that can register in their own program, like a homeschool or distance learning cohort.
There are many lower-risk activities and opportunities for social interaction that families can take part in. During the fall. Bringing activities outdoors can reduce the risk of spread, and also allows you to experience local trails, attractions and the like. Worried about going outdoors all winter long? Bundle up. The kids will be fine, and better for it.
With a small group of children, there is the opportunity to enrich their education with experiences for one or multiple children in the group, based on their special interests.
Find the Right fit for Your Family
What works for us, with a group of four families, may not work for you. Find a cohort arrangement that works for you and you’ll have the benefit of community for the children in the homeschool cohort, but also for the parents – because if the last few months has taught me anything, it’s that we really are all in this together.