As parents nationwide prepare to help their children with more distance learning, a small but quickly growing number are deciding to take matters entirely into their own hands and begin homeschooling.
Some are worried their districts are unable to offer a strong virtual learning program.
For others who may have been considering homeschooling, concerns for their family’s health amid the coronavirus and the on-again, off-again planning for in-person instruction are leading them to part ways with school systems.
Mindy Kroesche, a freelance writer and editor from Lincoln, Nebraska, had been leaning toward homeschooling her 12-year-old son, who has autism and ADHD diagnoses that made middle school a challenge. But she always felt her 10-year-old daughter was “built for school.” Now, with the pandemic raging, she is pulling them both out for the year.
“We just saw that with her wearing a mask for the entire day, that would make learning more difficult for her,” she said. “It was going to be such a different environment. We didn’t think it would be as beneficial for her.”
Homeschooling applications are surging in states including Nebraska, where they are up 21%, and Vermont, where they are up 75%. In North Carolina, a rush of parents filing notices that they planned to homeschool overwhelmed a government website last month, leaving it temporarily unable to accept applications.
There were about 2.5 million homeschool students last year in grades K-12 in the U.S., making up about 3% to 4% of school-age children, according to the National Home Educators Research Institute. Brian Ray, the group’s president, is anticipating that their numbers will increase by at least 10%.