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Concerned mom withdraws kids from local school

By DAWN HANKINS - dhankins@t-g.com
Posted 8/15/20

About a thousand Bedford County families have opted for virtual learning cohorts and the rest have chosen to send their kids back to the classroom. Local parent Brittani Reynolds withdrew her two children from Bedford County Public School System this fall, choosing to home school...

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Concerned mom withdraws kids from local school

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About a thousand Bedford County families have opted for virtual learning cohorts and the rest have chosen to send their kids back to the classroom. Local parent Brittani Reynolds withdrew her two children from Bedford County Public School System this fall, choosing to home school.

She discussed recently how she got a taste of Bedford County’s virtual learning program in the spring, when the schools had to close, due to COVID-19. She realized then how the public school system’s local distance learning cohort wasn’t going to work well for her two children, Landen, a sixth grader, and Estella, a first grader.

“Trying to navigate the online platform . . . getting them to refocus after being out of school for so long was challenging,” she says. “We had online platforms they had to work on, packets we had to print off and workbooks. I was trying to teach things with very little guidance and little to no preparation. It was not a conducive learning environment for me or my children.”

Her children previously attended Community Elementary; they miss their school and friends. Still, Brittani felt her best option was to withdraw her kids and commit to an online curriculum unassociated with Bedford County.

“I couldn’t justify them sitting in front of the computer for 6 hours, which is the requirement that I was told about. We have about 2-4 hours of online work.”

Tennessee Department of Education does require that students Landen and Estella’s age fulfill a minimum 6.5 hours of daily instruction. Bedford County Central Office supervisors said recently that virtual students are not required to spend the entire day in front of a computer screen; they may be involved in other classroom activities.

Brittani estimates she only has to spend about 2 hours instructing her kids, depending on the subject matter. She has the choice to spend the remainder of the school day reading to her children, including daily devotions if she wants, as well as involving them daily in writing, penmanship via journaling, and art.

“Considering I have 5 children, two school-aged that I’m teaching, a 4-year-old, a 2-year-old and a newborn, it definitely puts a lot more pressure on me.”

The home school programs chosen by the family are Aaron Academy/Time4Learning, whereby her kids are instructed largely through interactive games and videos. The online educators also complete her daily lesson plans, she explains.

“If schools end up closing again, I don’t want there to be gaps in their education. There is no uncertainty. We know what we are doing. I don’t want them having to play catch up. I’m just glad that I am given the opportunity to choose what is best for my family, because I know most parents don’t have that luxury.”

The mom of five said there are certainly perks to teaching your children at home. She does enjoy the aspect of what she calls “freedom in learning.”

“We don’t have to start at 8. When they get ansie, they can take a break if needed. Also, with my daughter having [Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder] ADHD, I’m able to sit one-on-one and keep her focused and engaged.”

She is sympathetic to what other parents are going through, that is, trying to decide on virtual vs in-school instruction. “This is a difficult time for everyone. Personally, I cannot believe all of this is happening. I want my children to have structure and stability. There is no telling what will happen in the schools. The rules or protocols could change however many times. I just hope by next year, everything will go back to normal.”

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