A recent survey by RealClear Opinion Research published on May 14 delivered some surprising results for families dealing with shutdown-mandated online learning. While popular wisdom suggests that home learning is considered a stressful, difficult necessity, a strong percentage of respondents report that the experience made them more likely to continue alternative methods of education for their children, even after lockdowns end and schools reopen.
Of all responding families, 40.8 percent said they were more likely to enroll a child in homeschooling, co-op or virtual school after lockdowns end, compared to just 31.1 percent who said they were less likely.
The strongest interest in learning alternatives was seen among ethnic minorities.
Of those asked if they supported diverting portions of their property tax payments to support school choice, 64 percent supported the idea. This high level of support was generally consistent regardless of age, ethnicity or political affiliation.
Additionally, 69 percent of respondents supported Federal Education Freedom Scholarships (tax credits for individuals and businesses who donate to scholarship organizations that offset part of their donations). Empower Illinois is the program available in this state.
The survey's reported margin of error is +/- 2.31 percent.
While some families consider options, others find validation
While the survey did not address the specific reasons for interest in exploring other education options, the numbers are surprising. Tawnie Cisneros, whose child is enrolled at Joliet Montessori School (JMS) in Crest Hill, has found that this home learning experience only reinforced her choice of schooling.
Like most parents, Tawnie was caught by surprise when circumstances required an almost instantaneous switch to remote learning. Being a Montessori school, JMS traditionally de-emphasizes technology-focused instruction in favor of a proven, century-old individualized curriculum that gently guides students as they explore their own love of learning.
"Montessori isn't a screen-based learning model," Tawnie says. "So when we had to move to Zoom-based instruction, we really didn't know what to expect. But almost immediately, I saw that the self-motivation and resilience that my son had learned in a Montessori environment had prepared him to deal with the curveball of in-home learning."
JMS Head of School Heidi Geiger explains why. "The first principle of Montessori is empowering a child's independence, giving him or her the freedom to explore their world and the confidence to build success on top of success along the way. The result is a more resilient child, one who isn't dependent on close supervision or any specific system, software or workbooks to make academic progress."
Heidi adds, "This lockdown gave us a rare opportunity to see how the Montessori method keeps children engaged and hungry to learn, even under unusual and stressful circumstances. While the daily Zoom meetings and small-group lessons were important, most of the actual schoolwork and independent research were conducted by the students on their own time and by their own initiative."
About online instruction, Tawnie says, "My son had to quickly learn about Google Classrooms and email – things that grown-ups take for granted. But he was curious and confident enough to take responsibility for his own accounts, to-do lists and work schedules."
Tawnie adds, "I also loved how we saw the Montessori principles of grace, courtesy and responsibility show up at home. Our son was used to having community responsibilities in the classroom, and that translated to a helpful kid who wasn't grouchy about chores at home. Being stuck in the house for weeks, those extra hands and extra smiles really helped our family work together and stay positive."
Online open house on June 25th at 4 p.m.
For local families interested in more personalized and intuitive education for their children in the 2020-2021 school year, JMS is currently accepting applications. Heidi Geiger, Head of School, will host an online open house and virtual tour at 4 p.m. on Thursday, June 25th.
Sign up for the open house event here.
JMS is also offering private tours of the school facilities, either in-person (observing necessary distancing guidelines) or virtually.
View the original article: https://patch.com/illinois/joliet/40-families-considering-alternative-education-after-lockdowns