By KEITH TAYLOR
GLASGOW, Ky. – The new normal is an everyday routine for Corey and Hollie Wood.
As most public and private school children, employees, teachers, and administrators in Kentucky adjust to a non-traditional schedule through the ongoing COVID-19 crisis, the Woods are used to having their children at home on a regular basis.
Members of Calvary Baptist Church in Glasgow, Hollie Wood serves as a homeschool instructor for their children: Miller (13), Evie (12), Grant (10), Nora (7) and Nash Wood (6).
“This is our normal,” said Hollie Wood, also serves as president of The Academy of Glasgow, a non-profit homeschool cooperative and support group.
“When we homeschool, we can easily leave the house,” Corey added. “That aspect is different and the mental aspect of the virus is different but, as far as day-in and day-out, it’s pretty much the norm.”
Even for homeschool parents, Hollie Wood said it’s also a challenging time for educators across the commonwealth and added: “The last few days have been kinda like everybody else.”
“We’ve just been trying to process everything and trying to get back into a routine as best we can but, for the most part, we have a routine and an order of how we do our daily routine, not necessarily a time, but an order of how we do things,” she said. “There’s not a certainty for about what the timetable is for all of the changes that are happening and so it’s really hard to maintain focus and motivation to move on.
“We’re overwhelmed and we’re kind of programmed to set goals that we are working toward. Homeschoolers have co-ops and people that meet with regularity and are accountable to and all of those things are gone right now. It just makes it really hard to maintain a sense of motivation and everybody across the board is struggling with that, homeschoolers and other children in schools. It’s just been a challenge to keep that focus.”
Hollie’s biggest advice for parents and caregivers with children in public and private schools is to schedule class commitments and activities with plenty of room for flexibility.
“I think making things consistent and set up a daily routine (is important) and know what’s coming,” she said. “You need to also be flexible. If you know (he or she) needs to have a break, let them have a break and go outside if they can.
“Homeschooling works differently than at school and there can be some more flexibility. It shouldn’t take as log because you don’t have as many kids. Short periods of time with a lot of breaks is helpful.”
Corey, a Spanish instructor at Barren County High School, said encourages children and parents to seek independence.
“Another key is when a child is able to do something themselves, you have to do it all (for them),” Corey said. “At a certain age, kids become self-motivated. When they can read the instructions on their math (homework), we don’t have to be sitting there looking over their shoulder as a teacher when they can do it. You can always help troubleshoot things.”
The Woods said it was an easy decision to homeschool their children and the couple hasn’t regretted it.
“We made the family decision for her to be a stay-at-home mom as much as possible,” Corey said. “It just naturally (led us to homeschool the children) in between changing diapers and those kinds of things.”
“It became our way of life,” Hollie added. “We like the freedom to slow down in the day and we look forward to doing activities together in the evening. It’s different from the typical norm of being gone and doing extra-curricular (activities) at night and we have time to focus on family. We have a lot more time and a cushion to spend in God’s word and training and those things. The time is short and our kids are only young for a short time at home. We wanted to be able to focus on that during the times that God has given us to be with them.”
“I think parents have always been their kids’ best teacher and sometimes they forget that and God has given them the role to be the best teacher. Even if they are in (pubic) school, (the parents) have always been their first and primary teacher and there a lot of resources they can seek out and talk to the teachers at school and they should feel encouraged and not be discouraged. They have the ability to find resources to help their kids.”
One of Hollie’s resources is her own husband.
“He’s a great teacher,” she said.
The Woods hope the increased time at home helps parents and children “re-evaluate their priorities.”
“I hope the Lord helps people to just slow down and really enjoy each other and draw closer to him, not show panic, appreciate the time to know each other and slow down our lives,” Hollie said. “Focus on him and how he can help us help people that might be really worried. It’s definitely a weird time and nothing like this has happened in our lifetime.”