Cheryl Celebi and her husband determined last fall that the best way to keep their four kids safe and learning during the pandemic was to switch to homeschooling—but the decision came with a catch.
Both parents are engaged in demanding careers. Cheryl recently bought a business that markets radio frequency, microwave, and fiber-optic components, and her husband, Kaan, works in construction—which means he can’t telecommute.
These responsibilities in turn reduced the Celebis’ ability to flex their schedules in order to homeschool.
No matter. Just as homeschool families have been doing for decades, the couple got creative and recruited the help of a retired teacher and that teacher’s husband—who also happen to be Cheryl’s mom and dad.
Ready and Willing
“When she said she wanted to homeschool, we immediately said—‘What can we do to help?’ ” recalled Beverly Adams, Cheryl’s mother.
She added: “I had been saying for years, after seeing the changes in public schools, that if I were parenting now, I would hope to be able to homeschool.”
Cheryl admitted that, over the years, she, too, had thought about withdrawing her children from public school and starting to homeschool. But it wasn’t until she saw the alternatives to full-time, in-person learning the local district was offering during the pandemic that she took the plunge.
“I didn’t want my kids spending so much time on the computer learning who knows what,” Cheryl insisted.
Setting a Schedule
The challenge then became setting up a workable schooling routine at home.
Though Beverly and her husband Phil were anxious to provide hands-on help, that meant driving from their home in North Carolina to where the Celebis live in northern Virginia. Since September, they’ve been making the trip about once a month.
Cheryl explained that this arrangement has developed into a sort of dual schedule for her children: Alara, 13; twins Aleyna and Maya, 11; and Darya, 9.
They begin with family devotions more or less at eight in the morning. Time for schooling then varies as Cheryl makes conference calls for work. On these days, the kids focus on core subjects.
When the grandparents are there, “we tend to have a stricter start time,” said Cheryl.
Visits by the grandparents allow for more relaxed—but comprehensive—schooling sessions. Phil helps with math, and Beverly tutors for about an hour apiece on the remaining subjects.
Even so, there’s still time for extra activities such as music and lacrosse. When the grandparents are there, the family also studies German together.
“We’re planning a trip to visit Christmas markets in Germany,” Cheryl explained.
She added that homeschooling has allowed the family more flexibility to travel locally and do special things together.
But that doesn’t mean the children’s academics have suffered.
“They’re doing great,” Beverly insisted. She said all four children recently took a standardized test, and the two older ones scored, on average, two grades above their actual level.
Beverly added that what really makes her happy is that homeschooling puts her daughter and son-in-law in charge of what their children learn. This includes teaching them Christian values, reading classic books, and tackling academic skills that are being abandoned by public schools, such as writing in cursive and diagramming sentences.
Still, Beverly said, there’s room for improvement. She would like to find ways to provide more one-on-one instruction on those occasions when her grandchildren find a topic difficult, and to teach them to help each other more.
As for whether they will continue with home education come the fall, Cheryl admitted that she hasn’t decided.
But for the present, she said she’s grateful for the haven that homeschooling has provided. And she’s especially gratified that it has allowed greater interaction between her children and her parents.
When her mom and dad first started coming to help with the schooling, Cheryl said, it was simply a way of dealing with a crisis.
“But it’s turned into a lot more than that, which is great for me,” she concluded. “And it turns out it’s great for them.”
All photos courtesy of the family.