Being at home during the school day, isolated from classmates is a new experience for many students forced by the pandemic to make adjustments to their routines. The changes have been much less pronounced for those kids already being homeschooled, but their days are different, too.
Parents homeschooling their children may have taken them on outings, for instance, but such options are limited these days. Helping her peers find ways to keep their kids connected to others is the goal of Elmira’s Jennifer Shouldice, a mother and occasional teacher.
Homeschool Kids Unite, is a weekly hangout held for kids in a homeschool setting – held virtually – so those who are new to the homeschool system, or who have taken part in the practice for some time and just want to connect with others, can have the chance to have fun and reach out to others during this time of staying apart.
Shouldice says she started this because she wants connections with other kids who are home this year.
“I am hungry for connections with other children who are home this year. Some children are home this year because of COVID, others have been homeschooling for a long time. This is our first year homeschooling, so my kids are not as connected with other children who are also homeschooling, and some of those other regular meet-ups are more difficult this year because of COVID, so this idea of doing Google Meets inspired from working with kids,” said Shouldice. “I thought this could be fun for kids who are home; since this year I am homeschooling, we can try this also. Mainly this growth is out of the hunger for connection, I want to get connected with other kids who are at home.”
Her initiative started earlier this week and will run every Tuesday for the foreseeable future. Each week there will be a different theme for kids to take part in, so kids can share fun and interesting stories with each other while having a chance to connect, even if it is over the internet.
So far, Shouldice says there are about 13 kids, including her own, who will be participating in the meet-ups. She has already planned each week up until Christmas and hopes that more and more kids will join in on the fun.
Shouldice says by doing this she hopes that she is able to provide a little more consistency for kids who are homeschooled, as not every family has the same structure.
“I do hope that it could provide something that is consistent for kids that are home… [so] they can know at this time on this day that I can see another kid or have that opportunity [to meet with others],” she said.
Homeschool Kids Unite takes place every Tuesday at 12:30 p.m.