Nelson’s Teresa Wiedrick has home schooled her four children for over a decade. From left: Madelyn Wiedrick, Hannah, Zachary, Jim, Teresa and Rachel. Photo: Louis Bockner

From classroom to the living room: B.C. homeschooler has advice for parents

Teresa Wiedrick has already learned what many parents are trying to work out during the pandemic

Teresa Wiedrick figured out years ago what many parents are only now beginning to understand — a home is not a school.

But that doesn’t mean kids can’t learn at home just as well as they might in a classroom. Wiedrick, who has homeschooled her own four children, says that begins by changing expectations placed on kids as well as with predetermined ideas of what education has to look like.

“If it’s a really academic child then no, they are happy to have that really strict routine. I have that child and she was asking for academics early on,” says Wiedrick.

“And then I’ve also got the child who was like, let me do whatever I want, I’ll be fine if I just read a magazine and put Taylor Swift lyrics up on my wall. And yet she’s the one who right now is going for a Masters degree, so go figure.”

Wiedrick has plenty of advice for those trying to balance the new parenting reality. The Nelson resident is the president of the BC Home Educators’ Association, which advocates for the rights of at-home teachers and their families. She’s also written a book about home schooling, hosts a podcast on the topic and maintains a blog on life as a mother-teacher.

Homeschooling is having a moment right now, albeit one born of necessity. Kitchen tables, bedrooms and front yards are the new classrooms for students unable to attend B.C. public schools due to the COVID-19 pandemic after in-class learning was suspended last month.

The Ministry of Education meanwhile launched an online tool based on the provincial curriculum to assist parents while also directing its 60 school districts to continue classes through digital options such as the video conferencing app Zoom.

But as parents are finding out, education via the internet isn’t easily done.

“Often they have more than one child and have tons of appointments for their kids, but most of them have either just lost a job or they are also trying to work at home or having to create their own businesses at home and all of that together they are also supposed to manage their kids education,” says Wiedrick.

“Oh and by the way, there’s a pandemic.”

Wiedrick has homeschooled her kids for 12 years, and what she’s figured out during that time is how key the relationship between a parent and child is to making the situation work. The actual school work? That’s the easy part.

“Nobody believes that until they’ve homeschooled and been with their kids long enough and recognized that an education isn’t because a teacher gives a child stuff to learn. It’s because we as humans are learning animals and we’re interested in learning.”

Practically, that means understanding who a child really is and what their passions are before looking for what Wiedrick calls learning opportunities.

A walk outside to find and study a frog? That’s science class. Online guitar lessons? That’s music class. Wiedrick says one of her kids is taking an online class on human anatomy through Yale University. Another started a YouTube channel and plays online chess with friends.

The key, she says, is to consider ways children can be taught even when the textbook is closed. “You can think about subjects in more of a loose learning kind of way.”

Wiedrick also advises against setting a strict schedule for children, which she says can negatively change how kids feel at home.

“I did that for sure in the beginning of my home school years and realized we’re not trying to create a school in our homes,” she says. “If we do that, we cross that teacher-parent role and we really make it challenging for ourselves and for them to relate to each other.”

As for parents turning to screens to educate and watch their kids, Wiedrick advises screen time is effective if limited and used with a purpose.

That includes giving parents a break. For people trying to work at home, Wiedrick suggests a communal time during the day when everyone is expected to do a quiet activity. Another easy idea for people with older children is to set an alarm clock outside a closed door. When it goes off, the kids have their parent’s undivided attention.

Which, in the end, is what she says will matter most.

“You have an opportunity right now to reshape your perspective of family and really your purpose in life as well. … You are going to be able to watch how your kids are learning, you get to learn about learning, you get to learn about their interests, their challenges, their aptitudes, you get to reconsider what is an education.”

Related:

Nelson and COVID-19: everything you need to know

Schools re-open in Nelson and Creston, but only for children of front-line workers

Preliminary talks underway for ‘potentially’ reopening schools, pending OK from B.C.’s top doc

‘Back to school, in a virtual way’ for B.C. students in COVID-19 pandemic



tyler.harper@nelsonstar.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

CoronavirusEducation

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Stikine provincial election candidates (clockwise from top left): Nathan Cullen, NDP; Darcy Repen, Rural BC Party; Rod Taylor, Christian Heritage; and Gordon Sebastian, BC Liberals.
‘Where is Annita McPhee?’: Cullen under fire from opening salvo of all-candidates forum

Four Stikine candidates spar during online debate from Prestige Hudson Bay Lodge in Smithers

(Wet'suwet'en Access Point on Gidimt'en Territory Facebook screenshot)
Ceremony a right at proposed CGL pipeline drill site: BC Union of Indian Chiefs

Indigenous land defenders cannot be criminalized and targeted, argues UBCIC

(File graphic)
Man dies in Gitlaxt’aamiks (New Aiyansh) after being taken into police custody

IIO and BC Corners Service conducting independent investigations

Dan Stuart (Christian Heritage Party - BC photo)
Strong values underpin Christian Heritage Party candidate

He’s also suspicious of the COVID-19 pandemic

Advance polling begins on Oct. 15, 2020, across B.C. in the 2020 snap election. (Black Press files)
B.C. VOTES 2020: Advance voting in Vanderhoof begins today

Advance voting runs from Oct. 15 to Oct. 21 in B.C.’s election

With local MLA Adam Olsen looking on, BC Greens leader Sonia Furstenau said a Green government would convert BC Ferries into a Crown corporation Wolf Depner/News Staff)
Green leader Sonia Furstenau promises to convert BC Ferries back into Crown corporation

Promise comes Monday afternoon with five days left in campaign

A passer-by walks past a COVID-19 testing clinic in Montreal, Friday, Oct. 16, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Canada ‘yet to see’ deaths due to recent COVID surge as cases hit 200,000

Much of the increase in case numbers can be attributed to Ontario and Quebec

Police confirm human remains were found in a recycling bin in Vancouver on Oct. 18, 2020. (Black Press Media file photo)
Human remains found in recycling bin floating near Vancouver beach

Police asking nearby residents to see if their recycling bin has gone missing

B.C. Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson visits a North Vancouver daycare to announce his party’s election promises for child care, Oct. 9, 2020. (B.C. Liberal Party video)
B.C. parties pitch costly child care programs in pandemic

B.C. Liberals say they’ll deliver on NDP’s $10-a-day promise for lower-income families

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

A B.C. man decided to create a website to help people find family doctors accepting patients. Because Victoria is considered high-demand, clinic openings can’t be posted publicly. (Unsplash)
Vancouver Island man starts website that connects B.C. residents with doctors

Nanaimo man started project to help people find family physicians accepting patients

Voting station at Tzeachten Hall in the riding of Chilliwack-Kent on the first day of advance voting in the provincial election on Oct. 15, 2020. (Paul Henderson/ Chilliwack Progress)
B.C. VOTES 2020: 380,000 British Columbians head to polls in first 4 days of advance voting

Some of highest voter turnout so far has been seen on Vancouver Island and in Shuswap

Grant and Barbara Howse, in quarantine in Invermere. Mike Turner photo
Denied entry into U.S., Kootenay couple still forced to quarantine for 2 weeks

The rules around crossing the U.S. border led to a bizarre situation for an Invermere couple

Most Read