Homeschooling is on the rise, and reports have found some fascinating insight.
Over the last few years, homeschooling rates have been consistently climbing upwards, but the pandemic caused the numbers to soar in the last year alone. The numbers went from 3.4 percent of students being homeschooled to nearly triple at 9 percent from Fall 2019 to Fall 2020.
Once the pandemic started and the shift went from in-school learning to home-based, parents were met with new obstacles. Families everywhere had their daily routines wholly disrupted. This led to parents being able to get a first-hand glance at their child's education structure.
Some parents found that their child excelled outside of the classroom. Kids have more time to focus on their strengths and learn what interests them. When learning within the home, they aren't bound by constant testing or other distractions common in public schools.
Now that schools are re-opening everywhere across the U.S., some families are opting for homeschool instead.
Some parents have concerns over how school systems handle safety measures regarding social distancing and keeping COVID exposures low. The parents feel it is too soon to rush back to in-person learning when COVID cases are still rising. Schools and districts are beginning to draft their guidelines on how best to handle the outbreak. For example, if a parent refuses an immunization for religious or medical reasons, schools will not accept that child into the classroom until the requirement are met.
Other families have concerns over the material their children are being taught and want them to learn from a faith-based curriculum instead. Many parents feel the advantage of a faith-based curriculum for their children is that they learn about the families' perspectives and worldviews.
Home education allows parents to adapt the curriculum to the student's needs. Also, parents have a say in how the student will learn and what they will learn about. The most significant advantage of home education is flexibility regardless of what curriculum you choose to teach to your children.
The Home Educators Association of Virginia had to increase its staff to handle the spike in calls from parents.
"In Virginia alone, we have seen over a 48 percent increase in homeschoolers for the last school year. We went from 44,000 to 65,000 homeschoolers. Lots of parents have done this and say their child has done so much better or they're not being bullied." Said Yvonne Bunn, director of homeschool support and government affairs at the Virginia association.
Yvonne also commented that the remote workers' parents are most eager to keep their kids at home.
"I do think a lot of parents are going to continue homeschool. They're not happy with what's going on," she said. "Parents are wanting to move in the direction of doing something else ... even the parents who work. We've been amazed by the number who want to continue to work from home so they can continue to teach their children."
A report from the U.S. Census Bureau found that Massachusetts had the highest spike with going from 1.5 percent households enrolled in home education to 12.1 percent.
Caucasian families already make up the majority of families being homeschooled, but those numbers are slowly changing. African American homeschool rates grew the highest out of any other race jumping to 16.1 percent. The National Black Home Educators program reported having just 5,000 members before the pandemic began and more than 35,000 after.
The findings tell us that homeschooling is no longer radical but instead has become a more common choice for parents everywhere. And although homeschooling is very common in rural areas, rates are now climbing in more urban cities like Los Angeles.
"One of the reasons that homeschooling has become more widespread is because it's a good fit for many families. It's not hard to understand why parents are choosing this option. They're looking at their work options and their child education options, all of which can be very personal decisions," said Jonathan Vespa from the U.S Census.
Many other factors played a part in the switch for parents, from their child being bullied to special needs that educators couldn't meet or handle.
Even though bullying rates dropped during the pandemic, some parents felt their child was safer at home. They no longer had to suffer being ridiculed or taunted by not-so-nice peers. Children that experience bullying are more likely to have problems with depression, anxiety and sleep-related issues. More severe effects include eating disorders, low self-esteem and suicidal ideation (thinking).
In an interview with CBN News, mother Heather Pray from Phoenix, Maryland, made the switch because of her son's autism. She felt his virtual classes weren't meeting his needs and saw dramatic improvements.
"My son did great (with homeschooling), even with just two hours of schoolwork a day," Pray said. "I got him into piano lessons, taught him to read."
It's the flexibility for most parents. Their children have increased exposure to on-hand skill-building sessions with more field trips.
Sometimes homeschooled children are better socialized than their school counterparts. Especially if they attend a family-centered co-op, where children interact with adults as well as other children. Or if the families in class schedule outings together, even ones just for adults to be together with their children (going out to eat or volunteering somewhere)
Your children can move faster through material and assignments and stop spending more time on topics they don't understand. They have you as their sole instructor without a class full of kids who also need help, making learning difficult material easier.
Some parents think that homeschooling helped their family learn to appreciate education more, and they chose to get out into the real world and expose their children to more math, art, science and history. Daily trips to museums, art galleries, or even local libraries are helping children flourish more than their public school experiences ever have.
While there are many positives to homeschooling, there is also a downside to think about before making the jump. There is no doubt that it takes a lot of dedication to homeschool your children since you are both the teacher and the parent. Some parents have found it very difficult to be in charge of their child's education full time and still work, run errands or find time for themselves.
Some of the challenges homeschoolers face are less social interaction with peers, which could affect their attitude. You have to make sure you have the resources to support their needs at home and also have the time. You don't want to rush through material and assignments or not even have the necessary resources for their curriculum.
You can talk to other homeschooling parents of similar ages about how they manage the school day and help you figure out what works best for your family.
Homeschooling means the parents take on the role of the teacher, and with that will come stress. It's essential to find balance when managing your day-to-day responsibilities.
If your child is athletic, you will also need to adapt. Most school districts won't allow homeschooled children to play on their sports teams, so you will need to plan with local recreational leagues or programs. Some programs will let you sign up for a year and not require a helpful attendance sheet.
Research your options and even make a pros and cons list for the decision process, but remember that your child's education should be best for your family at the end of the day.
Also, remember that your child's education is the one area in life that you do not get a redo on.
So pick wisely and move forward with confidence.