Homeschool pod

As part of a homeschool pod formed by multiple Ellensburg families, students formed a band through their music class.

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Students across the nation faced new challenges with the coronavirus, in Ellensburg, they had to adapt to a hybrid schedule and remote education, which is why some students decided to not deal with it at all.

Eight former Morgan Middle School students and their families created learning pods, a form of homeschool education. These eight students would attend classes created by parents, covering all subjects required and as well as some extras such as woodworking and ceramics, the kids even made their own band (the “All Rights”) during music class.

Natalia Parker, the parent of one of the students said they were already taking classes part time at MMS before the pandemic. Her family had also started working with others to educate their kids, and when the pandemic hit they started homeschooling full time and brought in more students.

The students in the pod said they enjoyed the year a lot more than attending class at school. With a small class size, they got to know each other well and had more one-on-one time with their instructors.

“We got to go at our own pace, so we didn’t have to get slowed down or get sped up,” said Lindsey Yaap, a student in the pod.

To celebrate the end of the year, the students and their families held a celebration where the students could showcase everything they had learned. This included their ceramics work, their filmmaking talents and even a live show from their band.

“I think it’s a really important thing for kids to not just do their work but be able to share what they are doing with their family members or their community members when they can,” Parker said.

The parents used their different skills to teach their students different subjects. Parker said she had a background in teaching writing, so she taught the writing workshop.

“Every family took a class they thought they had some expertise or space for. One family was teaching a cross-fit P.E. class because they had a gym in their garage,” Parker said. “One family offered a ceramics and art class because they actually happen to be ceramicists and they have a studio.”

The families would also hire professional teachers to give the students lessons in topics they were not experts in such as science and social studies. Math was done individually by each student for the most part, but they all had the same tutors.

Parker said the year was not without its struggles, which will always arise in a school environment, and between parents and their kids. As a result, conflict resolution became an unofficial lesson throughout the year.

The students also were able to stay safe during the coronavirus pandemic by taking care to social distance and wear masks. According to Parker, nobody tested positive for the virus throughout the year.

Parker said not only did this pod system work for her family and the others with her, but she got the idea by looking at other learning pods across the country. She said the pandemic has given the nation another way to look at education, and students should access to more diverse ways of learning.

The students loved the learning pod homeschool model, and despite many moving to high school next year, they said they wanted to stay in the learning pods. This was something that all the students agreed on, but something Parker said the parents were still considering.

“A lot of these kids are moving into high school and there are definitely concerns about making sure kids are meeting their credits and things like that,” Parker said. “Not sure what all of the kids will do… we’ll just have to see how that continues to play out for kiddos, but I think high school does change people’s ideas about how flexible they can be.”

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